Investing to protect York’s medieval Bar Walls

City of York Council’s investment of over £100,000 to protect and preserve York’s historical Walmgate Bar Walls, which date back to the medieval period, will reach a key milestone this week.

Walmgate bar

For the first time in its history, the timber-framed rear extension at Walmgate Bar will be lifted up slightly (by 10mm) by using a sophisticated jacking system in order for important works to be carried out. These will involve replacing the capitals of the two supporting columns and relocating the way the weight of the structure is transferred to the stone columns.

The Bar is the most complete of the four medieval gateways in York and the walls themselves are the best example of medieval city walls still standing in England today, which over a million people walk across every year.

Originally built as defences, the focus is now on conservation and the council is working with Historic England to carry out a number of improvements to Walmgate Bar to help preserve over 1,900 years of history.
Walmgate Bar is a gatehouse to the city and is the only bar to still have its barbican, portcullis and wooden inner doors.

Works to restore these and other significant parts of the gatehouse started last year. This includes installation of a unique system which will support the timber-framed extension should either or both columns be struck by a vehicle, repair works to the roof (including restoration of the balustrade) and windows, and re-rendering the timber-framed extension.

Thermal insulation will also be improved through the use of a lime render that incorporates hemp. A discreet viewing platform will also be placed on the roof and a hand rail will be installed on the Barbican walkway. The scheme has been discussed with and agreed by Historic England.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism at City of York Council said: “The City’s Walls are one of York’s most treasured and significant historical features which is why it’s so important we continue to invest in preserving them. Over a million people a year take a walk through 1,900 years of history on the City’s Walls and we hope through this investment many more visitors will continue to enjoy them.”

John Oxley, City Archaeologist at City of York Council, said: “The repair and restoration work at Walmgate Bar has turned out to be much more complicated than we envisaged when we commenced work earlier this year.  Once we had stripped all the render from the building, we realised that important original features were no longer supporting the structure adequately.This has meant that we have had to carefully reassess parts of the restoration proposals.We have had great support and assistance from experts at Historic England. We are all now very pleased that this essential work can now be completed.”

Further works will continue throughout the month and will require road closures in the area on 22 September.  Details of this will be made available nearer the time.

The City Walls are open every day from 8am to dusk. To find out more about the Walls or about the Walmgate Bar project

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