The Battle of Bishopthorpe

Last Tuesday saw hostilities return to the village when once again the annual darts match between the Ebor Players and the combined might of the Parish Council took place. The Ebor Players had won the trophy for the past two years and it was palpable that the ‘Parish Council’ team had only one aim in mind. Revenge! Now it would be only to easy at this point to paint the Parish Council (PC) team as some kind of pantomime baddy, ….  So let’s just do that!

Darts_2011I am not sure what eligibility criteria was needed to be included in the PC team but it would appear it would be much more difficult to qualify for the Welsh or Irish football team. Let’s just say that any links would appear to have stretched the word tenuous to breaking point!! If the church bells ever fall silent due to the lack of campanologists, one has only to look to the PC darts team, there were any number of ‘ringers’ available. No such accusations could thrown at the Players however, thespians to a man or woman or both?? However they were to receive yet another shock as they witnessed the unedifying sight of their newly elected chairman, in his first public appearance, walk in and ‘high five’ the PC team. It would appear that at some point in the past and in a drunken stupor, he had once said hello to someone from the Parish Council and so he qualified.  So with dark mutterings of ‘Judas’, ‘traitor’ and ‘wait until the next committee meeting’, the match started.

Darts_2011_2First up was the ladies and in a tense match Cayley Godfrey and Jo Bewley secured their first victory for the PC against a valiant try by Chris & Diane from the Players. First blood to the PC.

Next came the men’s doubles and the Players captain Liam Godfrey was paired with dart’s debutant Paul Brook. Brook claimed to have never played darts before and after his first dart it was easy to see why. Not for him the silky smooth wrist action of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, he was more like Steve Backley auditioning for the Lion King. I understand that a passing impala on Main Street had to be treated for post traumatic stress disorder! Given this and Godfrey’s abysmal track record in this event, it was no surprise that father and son Chris and Michael Dale triumphed despite some woeful throwing by Dale senior. 2-0 to the PC

Into the fray stepped Stewart Harrison and Cath Bruce for the mixed doubles. They were paired against Julia Sykes and part time cross dresser and unbeaten David Rose. Despite some fierce barracking and intimidation from Harrison and Bruce, Sykes and Rose triumphed to give the Players a glimmer of hope. 2-1 to the PC

The fourth match was a sight to behold, the men’s singles was between Steve Poulter for the Players and Dave King for the PC. It would appear that King qualified for the PC team by fitting a light bulb in the village hall during a PC meeting. This was a quality match with high scores being traded by both participants. King got his nose in front and then Poulter rallied with some terrific scoring before King finished the match 3-1 to the PC

The fifth match was a humdinger (yawn) between Tracey Patrick for the Players and ex Players Chair Lisa Thornton (is there a pattern emerging here?) for the PC . Thornton started well but then, as is her want, he went on and on and on almost letting Patrick back into the match, before somehow managing to score the 11 she needed for victory.  4-1 and the match to the PC

The sixth match was now purely academic but pride was at stake and the Players team of ,Steve Patrick and Kay Redhead were determined. None more so than Patrick who stood -resolute against Ian Jemison and Cayley Godfrey (again) and finished strongly. 4-2 to the PC

Last and most definitely least the ex and current chairperson of the Players, Davis and Thornton (again) had a hollow victory over Players debutants John Redhead and Lisa Beadle

Darts_2011_3The jubilant scenes that followed showed how much this victory meant to the Parish Council team, although albeit with a team whose qualification criteria was somewhat dubious.

The next instalment in this battle will be the annual cricket between the Players and the Ebor Players in the summer.

With the selection criteria the PC use you can expect to see KP (and I’m not talking about the nuts!) playing for the Parish Council as his brother’s, girlfriend’s, sister in law’s, mother once ran into Stewart Harrison’s cousin’s,  best friend’s, goddaughter with a trolley in Waitrose in East Grinstead!



A Railway Station for Bishopthorpe?

It’s OK – you haven’t missed anything – there are no plans to build a railway station at Bishopthorpe!  It’s just that recently, a Bish-dot-net reader asked if a station or goods yard had ever been built near the nurseries on Appleton Road.  Taking a look at the old Ordnance Survey maps of the area soon established that no railway station was ever built at Bishopthorpe – but it wasn’t for the want of trying!

Bish_RailwayThe North East Railway slicing through the Bishopthorpe fieldsMay Hill took this photograph in the 1930s looking south-east from Bishopthorpe Bridge to Naburn Swing Bridge, which can just be seen in the distance.


On the 2nd January 1871, the North East Railway Company opened its York to Doncaster branch, providing a new link on the East Coast route to Scotland.  This shortened the distance between London and York by about three miles.  Since the line sliced through the fields on the edge of Bishopthorpe, the provision for a local station was obviously discussed, but rejected.

According to an article in the Yorkshire Evening Press of 1907, the “station question” had exercised the minds of villagers on several occasions.  Apparently, Dr. Thomson, who was Archbishop when the line was built, had frowned on such a scheme.  No doubt he did not wish to encourage even more tourists to visit his peaceful home parish than those who already travelled here by foot, horse or steamer to view the ancient palace of the Archbishops of York.

However, with the arrival of the twentieth century, a different man of influence brought his feelings to bear.  In 1902, Mr. Arthur Toward Watson, a wealthy coal owner from County Durham, came to live in the village.  He employed the fashionable York architect Walter Brierley to build a splendid house, known as The Garth, on Sim Balk Lane.  Mr. Watson who, at one time was chairman of the Parish Council, travelled daily to Newcastle on business.  He was described by his son, John, as “a man of unlimited energy” which is not surprising as he cycled to York Station every weekday morning to catch the 9.30 a.m. train and returned at 7.30 p.m.

Mr. Watson, who understandably must have tired of the journey, gained the support of the village in his quest for a railway station at Bishopthorpe.  In 1905, he and his wife were joined by the vicar, Rev. Pennyman, and farmer Mr. Lofthouse, when they presented a petition at the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway in York.  Apparently, the petition had been signed by every householder in the village with the exception of four. Despite this popular appeal, it held no sway with the directors of the railway company.

Fifteen years later, Bishopthorpe Parish Council supported the local farmers and market gardeners by making a formal application to the N.E.R. board for a station and siding but, once again, this was turned down.  The plentiful gooseberries, peas, and potatoes that were grown in the area therefore continued to be transported to market by horse and cart.  After 1920, the idea seems to have been dropped but, if the N.E.R. had agreed to build a railway station all those years ago, no doubt it would have been closed in the 1950s for economic reasons, just like the stations at Naburn and Copmanthorpe.  If it hadn’t been made redundant then, it would have certainly disappeared with the opening of the Selby Diversion in September 1983.  But that’s another story.

Linda Haywood


Yorkshire Evening Press: 19 April 1907, p2.

Lest We Forget, C. E. W. Brayley (1975), p31.

Bishopthorpe Parish Council Minutes: 4 January 1920.