Cow wallopers and Nurse Harvey’s gripe water – a Nunnery Lane history

LOCAL historians have released a fresh batch of images from their award-winning book about the history of Nunnery Lane.

The book – Nunnery Lane and Clementhorpe: Exploring old shops and pubs in York, by the Clements Hall Local History Group – was originally published late in 2021.

Last year, it was joint winner of the ‘best community publication title’ in the national CILIP Alan Ball Local History Award – the history group’s fourth national award in four years.

The book is still on sale – and group members have now released a new set of photographs, some of which we reproduce on these pages.

As the title suggests, the book – which the history group spent several years researching – is mainly a look back at the many old pubs and shops which were once to be found in the Nunnery Lane and Clementhorpe area.

Group member Susan Major said: “What does Nunnery Lane mean to you?

“For some people it brings up lots of old memories of a thriving shopping street.

“For others it’s a street that you pass along, to get from one side of town to another.

“Older people remember the smell of the shops, the distinctive aromas, and even the tarry tang of the roads. They talk about traditional medicines from local chemists – Syrup of Figs, Croskell’s Yellow Mixture and Nurse Harvey’s Gripe Water.

“We heard about cow wallopers driving cattle along the lane, and trams passing along there, taking workers to local factories until the 1930s.

“With the redevelopment of the Caroline Street area in the 1960s, families were moved into other areas of York though, and the community behind Nunnery Lane disappeared. We hope to remind those families of the area.”

Nunnery Lane and Clementhorpe: Exploring old shops and pubs in York is available, priced £8, from Pextons, Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop, the Slip Inn and the Swan in Nunnery Lane and South Bank, and from Waterstones and the York Explore Library shop in the city centre. For mail orders contact

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