Gathering Place: A Visual Blog by Claire Boardman

I’m dyslexic and for me this means it’s often easier and quicker to share my thoughts through images rather than words. I was very happy then, after participating in one of the My Castle Gateway project’s ‘Gathering Place’ events, to be asked to create a visual blog … I have no idea what one of those is but I hope it’s something like this … (It is! – Phil B)

Theatre (architecture and activity)

My first reaction to the plans for new buildings on the Castle car park and along Piccadilly was not exactly positive. I didn’t like the thought of the space and skyline being foreshortened and I thought it might feel a little like being in a canyon but when I sketched it out what I actually saw was a stage.


The ground floor of the new building to be built at the rear of Coppergate (the Fenwicks building) will be given over to purely commercial activities, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean just ‘more of the same’. Still a little concerned about the new building encroaching into open space of the current car park, I started to think about the semi-open style of Medieval market halls. This reminded me of the flexible design of the restored Scarborough Market Hall where traditional stalls, kiosks and small shops give way at times to performance and other social events. Let this commerce be small scale, independent and dynamic; following the seasons and/or the city’s festivals

The Other York Castle

At Baile Hill in Bishophill, a small tree covered man-made mound is all that remains of the other York castle. Standing near the bottom of Clifford’s Tower steps, that part of the city is completely hidden at this time of year, behind the mature trees of Tower Gardens. From this point of view though, would (re)moving the trees actually reveal the other castle site or would we just be left looking at the converted warehouses on the opposite bank? If we can’t see it could we imagine it and perhaps use technology to help us?

The Eye of York

In the middle of conversations about shopping and entertainment I think it’s important that the dark and difficult past of this place is not hidden or forgotten but acknowledged and honoured.

York has declared itself a Human Rights City and a City of Sanctuary but there’s no focal point for these initiatives nor dedicated public space to consider and discuss what this means practically for the city. I wonder if the Eye of York area could provide this.

By the end of the walk, I realised just how important vistas – being able to see places at a distance – are to me, even in the middle of a busy city but vistas require open spaces and in cities these don’t occur naturally or arbitrarily, but are lost or created through the process of urban design and development.

Claire Boardman – July 2019

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