Explore Your First World War Heroes

The centenary of the First World War years has set many of us exploring the role our relatives played during those years of conflict.  Although access to online digitised records has maWW1_Ancestorsde the search easier, not all our questions are answered.

If your WW1 ancestors are proving to be a challenge, come along to Bishopthorpe Library on Wednesday, 17th and Saturday, 20th June, when Ken and Linda Haywood will be holding a First World War Family History Help-Desk Event.

Ken and Linda, who have been helping researchers for many years, will bring several finding aids and sources of information with them.  In particular, they will have the City of York World War 1 Card Index.  This invaluable Index lists the details of more than 10,000 men and women from the city who served with the Forces.

The research assistance applies both to those who survived the war and those who did not.

Bring your details and Ken and Linda will do their best to help you find what Great/Gran or Great/Grandad did in the war.

To make your search even more enjoyable, coffee and home-made cakes will be provided by the Library at a small charge.

Bishopthorpe Library:  Wed. 17th June (10.00am to 12.30pm & 2.00pm to 5.00pm) and Sat. 20th June (10.00am to 12.30pm)

Chairman’s Report 2015

Annual Parish Meeting held 28 April 2015

Report of Chairman for Financial Year Ended 31 March 2015

I would like to thank Cayley Godfrey, our Clerk, for bringing all our meetings together, making sense of our discussions, producing minutes, maintaining our financial records and still remaining sane! This year-end has been particularly busy for Cayley because we have been randomly chosen for a full external audit which involves further work over and above our routine annual accounts.

I would also like to thank all the other residents of the village who undertake various tasks around the village including Keith Thornton, Caretaker of the Village Hall; Marie Addinall, Village Hall Bookings Secretary; Linda Holland and Margaret Christie who open and close the Sensory Garden and Becky Clarke who opens and closes the Keble Park Play Area. I would also like to thank the volunteers who help out on various committees along with local contractors who undertake all kinds of work for us and are also prepared to respond at a moment’s notice when we have the occasional emergency.

As I said, Cayley maintains our accounts and during the past financial year we have spent £58k out of an income of £59k so we are managing to keep within budget.

We have continued to waive the rent for the village hall for the local Brownie Group and Bishopthorpe Playgroup/Tots to enable them to use it free of charge.

We have also provided £300 to the History Group to allow them to purchase of a new computer and we part fund the use of Ferry Lane facilities for the local Play Group and Football and Cricket Clubs.

Our current reserves are approximately £40k. We have therefore agreed to maintain the precept at the current level of £28k for the next financial year. One change next year to our accounts will be the start of a separate fund to allow for replacing major items within the Keble Park Play area and we intend to start this fund off with £5k.

Overall we will continue to maintain a reserve of approximately one year’s precept and by purchasing relevant insurance we believe we are fully covered in the event of an exceptional occurrence within the next financial year.

We started the financial year with a full complement of 10 on the Council but due to family reasons or work commitments Gillian Clifton and Mike Elsworth both resigned during the year and I would like to send my thanks to both for the time they served the village.

We have operated during the last few months of this financial year with 8 councillors but will be joined by Mark Askew after the election on May 7th.  We are still looking for a further councillor to bring us up to full complement for the next financial year – so if you know anyone who would be interested please ask them to speak to one of the current councillors.

Perhaps I should also mention that we are unpaid volunteers trying to maintain and improve the way of life of their friends and neighbours in the village to the best of their abilities – that’s my get-out if we have done or do anything you don’t like!

So what do we do?

We hold monthly meetings and these may be attended by residents to ask for help or clarification about some issue in the village and, as all Councillors live in the village, we are often asked questions during normal village life along with receiving letters requesting clarification or help on numerous subjects. Hopefully, the vast majority of queries have been taken on board and the issue is resolved it to the satisfaction of all concerned.

We have a achieved a good attendance record for our monthly meetings but of course these meetings only form a small part of what we do with several supporting committee and one-off meetings as well as meetings with third parties. And, of course, none of us are afraid of rolling up our sleeves to plant trees, mend fences and gates, rake over the bark and sand surfaces in the play area or undertake any of the other one-off tasks that come our way!

Our routine meetings review:

  • Planning Applications
  • Management of:
    • The Village Hall
    • Ferry Lane Pavilion and Sports Field
    • Allotments on Acaster Lane and Appleton Road
  • Support for the Young, Disabled and Elderly of the Village

Specifically during the past year we have had plans drawn up and are in the process of receiving quotes to upgrade the changing rooms and showers in the Sports Pavilion on Ferry Lane.

Successfully negotiated an agreement to move the Post Office from Main Street into Maynews on Sim Balk Lane.

Helped to co-ordinate the improvement to the Council Houses on Beech and Maple Avenue.  This work has resulted in an offer to upgrade the kitchen facilities in Vernon House free of charge by the contractor Keepmoat.  Along with this we have potentially negotiated a charging solution with City of York Council to ensure the long term future of Vernon House.

We also maintain links with other Parish Councils, City of York Council and various organisations to ensure we are compliant with both existing and new legislation.

This has included a requirement to allow anyone to record either sound and/or vision of all Parish Council meetings – why anyone should want to do so defeats me – but the process is now in place.

All in all I believe we have had another successful year and look forward to the future where we can further develop plans to maintain and improve the village in which we all live.

Stewart Harrison


A Brief History of the Bishopthorpe Postal Service

 Glynn_Drummond_POThe Post Office

Post Master Glynn Drummond outside Bishopthorpe Post Office in Main Street, just a few months before he retired.  (September 2014)


When Glynn Drummond announced he was going to retire as Bishopthorpe Postmaster, a tremor passed through the village. No one wished to lose the Post Office. However, as we now know, the P.O. has re-opened at the newsagent in Sim Balk Lane, and a collective sigh of relief was heard for miles.

It would, indeed, have been a great disappointment if the Post Office had closed down, bearing in mind that a postal service has operated in Bishopthorpe for 171 years. On 6th January 1844, just four years after the introduction of the Penny Post, the Postmaster General decided to establish an “official Post” for the residents of Bishopthorpe and surrounding area. A foot messenger set out from York Post Office each day at 6.00 a.m. delivering letters to the receivers of mail at the Mount, Dringhouses, Middlethorpe, Bishopthorpe, Acaster Malbis and across the ferry to Naburn. He returned to York with the day’s collection by 6.00 p.m. having reached Bishopthorpe at 4.45 p.m.

During the first two years, deliveries were also made on Sundays, much to the disapproval of certain inhabitants. It was not stated if Archbishop Harcourt’s influence prevailed but, following a communication sent to the Postmaster General, the Sunday post was withdrawn. The service was not re-instated until 1912.

The foot messenger was paid 14 shillings a week and the receivers, £4.00 per year. Letters were not delivered to individual properties, only to the receiving offices. These collecting points were located in existing businesses such as blacksmiths’ and wheelwrights’ workshops. The proprietors looked on this as a lucrative side line – not for the small P.O. allowance they were paid, but for the extra custom it brought through their doors when villagers called in to post or collect their letters.

PO_1899The building on the right of this photograph is now known as Chestnut Cottage, but it used to be divided into two separate buildings.  The left-hand side was the Post Office for at least fifty years until 1899.  The telegraph wire can just be seen jutting from the chimney stack.

The Sub – Post Mistresses

Unfortunately, the identity of Bishopthorpe’s first receiver is not known but, by the time the1851 Census was taken, Mrs. Jane Dobson, a widow, received mail at the house we now know as Chestnut Cottage in Chantry Lane. Mrs. Dobson died in 1865 and her successor was another widow; Mrs. Ellen Hawkridge, who supported her family by dressmaking. She lived near The Woodman but later moved into Chestnut Cottage.

Mrs. Hawkridge served the community for more than thirty years but not without trial and tribulation. During that time she coped with the new telegraph service which was connected to her premises in 1889.   Five years later a burglar smashed his way into the office stealing just £2 because Mrs. Hawkridge had already taken the week’s proceeds into York. When she retired in 1899, Archbishop Maclagan unsuccessfully appealed to the Postmaster General to provide her with a pension. However, sub-postmasters/mistresses were not considered to be full-time employees and therefore not eligible to receive a pension. There were no exceptions.

Gertrude Johnson set up the next sub-post office in the extension at the side of her brother’s house in Main Street [now no. 50, next door but one to The Ebor]. In her time, the business grew more complex: she dealt with insurance, savings, money orders, an express delivery service and, from 1908, the state pension. Her sister, Evelyn, served as the telegraph clerk which was just as well; in 1901, the Postmaster General offered the Parish Council the use of the telegraph at night, “in cases of urgent necessity.” The Council accepted the proposal at a charge of 10 shillings [50p]. Fortunately, all this extra work eventually earned Miss Johnson a half-day’s holiday on Saturdays, but not until eight years later.

In the 1920s, Joseph Bulmer merged the Post Office with his grocer’s shop in Main Street, eventually moving into the property we are familiar with, next door to The Marcia (see Glynn, above). After many decades, the Post Office has moved again where we hope it will continue to serve the people of Bishopthorpe for a long time to come.

Linda Haywood


Post Office Archives: Post Office Minutes: Post 35.

Bishopthorpe Parish Council Minutes.

1851 Census: HO107/2354/ f350, p2.

Slater’s Commercial Directory, 1855.

Wm. White’s Directory, 1867.

Steven’s Directory, 1881.

Yorkshire Gazette: 5 May 1894, p7.

After 171 years, Bishopthorpe Post Office Survives Closure Threat

Bish_POGlynn Drummond photographed in front of Bishopthorpe Post Office, Main Street, which closed in February 2015.


When Glynn Drummond announced he was going to retire as Bishopthorpe Postmaster, a tremor passed through the village. No one wished to lose the Post Office. However, as we now know, the P.O. has re-opened at the newsagent in Sim Balk Lane, and a collective sigh of relief was heard for miles.

It would, indeed, have been a great disappointment if the Post Office had closed down, bearing in mind that a postal service has operated in Bishopthorpe for 171 years. To read about the history of our local postal service, see the article in Local History.