The Clifford’s Tower Area

Contributions under the CliffordsTowerCastlegateway tag on the My Castle Gateway Flickr site

What is the space now?

It is the road from Tower Street into the Eye of York area, along with the space around Clifford’s Tower, including the entrance to Clifford’s Tower.

What did the Castle Gateway Masterplan / English Heritage masterplan say?

  • Steps will take people up to Clifford’s Tower
  • There will be a van to welcome visitors to Clifford’s Tower

In the future Tower Street Approach, what are people doing?

Many thousands of visitors each year come to learn the story of Clifford’s Tower, stopping at the English Heritage welcome van to find out more information, be welcomed and buy tickets. #GatheringPlace #GatheringHeritage

People read an information board which interprets the stories of the English Heritage site so as that many people as possible understand the significance of Clifford’s Tower – including the significance of the daffodils.  #GatheringPlace #GatheringHeritage

Groups of visitors meet and gather outside Clifford’s Tower – buying tickets and chatting to the English Heritage staff – before climbing the stairs to experience the refreshed visitor information inside the tower and take advantage of views from the roof deck. #GatheringPlace #GatheringHeritage

People mill across what was a road but has become a pedestrian area with the distinction between pavement and road minimised. #GatheringPlace

People who are blind and partially sighted can navigate easily as the route up into the area from the bus stop is carefully designed. #GatheringPlace #GatheringOnTheMove

People sit and enjoy the view towards the river Ouse and are able to appreciate how the landscape has a definite rise and fall, and then realise why this was the perfect place to build the castle. #GatheringPlace

People notice that trees mark the route towards Tower Gardens and the Ouse and point towards the other part of the Norman defences at Baile Hill. #GatheringPlace #GatheringHeritage

People in custody are delivered to Crown Court in a way that minimises impact on the other activities going on in the area. #GatheringPlace #GatheringOnTheMove

In the morning – before the area gets busy – the museum is serviced by vans. #GatheringPlace #GatheringOnTheMove

The place where the new drop was – and where the Luddites were executed – is marked and visitors move over toward the back of the Court to read and understand the histories of their trail and execution. #GatheringPlace

The experience of walking up into the area is one of a slowing of pace as the impact of traffic is lessened and of entering a new space where histories can be explored. #GatheringPlace

In the early morning, when the area is quiet, people run through the area and walk past Clifford’s Tower on their way to work and appreciate its form and what it represents. #GatheringPlace

Design Challenges

The design of this space needs to respond to various challenges:-

  • This space is complex in that it needs to combine ease of pedestrian and necessary vehicular movement with gathering and waiting.
  • The design of the space needs to respond to it having two important views in opposite directions – up towards Clifford’s Tower and beyond, and across Tower Gardens towards the Ouse and Baile Hill So, for example, seating and waiting areas need to enhance both.
  • Discussion of the significance of Clifford’s Tower has made it clear that for many, simply passing “The Lowry Test” is most important, meaning minimising visual intrusion upon the current view from Tower Street.
  • A need to create a sense of arriving into a different space as you walk up the hill from Tower Street, for the area to feel a bit quieter and for people to be encouraged to slow down.
  • The space is bounded on one side by Tower Street, with a pedestrian crossing and onwards route through a narrow entrance into Tower Gardens. This raises many issues, including:-
    • Noise and disturbance from traffic
    • The pedestrian crossing is offset from the current route down to the road, making the route to Tower Gardens and the river indirect
    • Tower Street is effectively four lanes in width, with a central reservation on the adjacent section, making it a major visual (and physical) barrier
    • Separation of pedestrians and cycles at the crossing / Tower Gardens entrance is indistinct

None of these issues falls within the current scope of work but all have a bearing on the Tower Street Approach. Design of the space will need to work with current issues as identified, but should also allow for possibilities of future further works which address them. So, ideally…

People on foot walk easily across Tower Street and directly into the area with a new crossing area and an inviting route to and from Tower Gardens that lines up with the Tower Street Approach.  #GatheringPlace #GatheringOnTheMove