What’s on in York: Bomb Happy D-Day – A play about ordinary men in extraordinary times

by Everwitch Theatre

14th, 15th and 16th June

York Army Museum, 3A Tower Street, York. YO1 9SB

“I haven’t seen anybody dead before and we’re in the water, wading to the shore and we’re literally brushing against… bodies rolling in the surf…eighteen, nineteen year olds…people that we know…”

Bomb Happy evocatively brings to life the verbatim memories of the last five York Normandy Veterans who, as young lads from York, Leeds, Sheffield and London, find themselves part of one of the most important military operations in World War Two.

Told in their own words, Bomb Happy follows each Veteran’s unique journey from D-Day to VE Day highlighting the lifelong impact of post traumatic stress disorder.

Meet the Veterans- a unique opportunity to meet York’s remaining D-Day Veterans, including one or two of the real men behind the stories in Bomb Happy, alongside their wives & widows, after the show!

“ Bomb Happy is a verbatim victory….What we see on stage are not worldly-wise old men reminiscing about the past but boys shipped to an unknown land being confronted with the carnage of the battlefield. 5 star Review, Broadway Baby

“…it would be hard to imagine a more emotional experience at any Yorkshire theatre this season.” Charles Hutchinson, York Press

” This play about ordinary men in extraordinary times deserves a much wider audience…This really is a must see play, which will stay with you forever.” Paul Reed, BBC Historian, The World at War

“An incredibly powerful and moving piece. Brilliant cast. Veterans story told in their own words. Do please see it if you can.” Neil Foster, BBC Radio York, BBC Radio Leeds

Suitable Age 12+

Empty Council owned Castlegate property – future still uncertain

29 Castlegate, which is located next to Fairfax House, and is owned by the City of York Council continues to be left empty.
29 Castlegate

Hopes that the property might be purchased by the York Conservation Trust have disappeared following a change of Chief Executive. They had been expected to purchase the iconic building for around £431,000. The discounted sale price was justified in 2017 by claims that significant repair works were needed.

At the same time, the York Civic Trust said that they were set to lease the building with an investment of £2.8 million to be made, as part of an expansion of activities at Fairfax House.

It became clear 6 months ago that the York Civic Trust had suspended their plans.

The building – which also benefits from a valuable showroom frontage onto the Coppergate Shopping Centre – was used for many years as a photographic gallery. When the gallery moved to Bradford, the Council allocated the space to be used as a youth advice centre.

In 2012 the, then Labour controlled Council, commenced negotiations to move the youth facilities elsewhere. The proposal was widely condemned.

The building has remained empty for over 3 years. Potentially this has cost the Council tens of thousands of pounds in rent and rates income.

Addressing the problems with empty Council owned properties should be a top priority for the new administration when it is elected this week. Too many expensive, high profile, properties like 29 Castlegate and the Guildhall have been left to rot. In future York Councillors must insist on receiving an “unused asset” report on a regular basis. It needs to be transparent.

If the Civic Trust deal on Castlegate has fallen through, then the property should either be leased or sold on the open market.

Because of its prestigious location there is likely to be a lot of interest.

This might include bringing part of the building back into residential use.  With apartments at the nearby fire station site selling for over £700,000 each, the opportunities at this address will be obvious to many developers.

Either way, something needs to be done quickly.

Castlegate sale – Now Council and Civic Trust have more questions to answer


Castlegate

As long ago as 2012 The Council started negotiations to move its youth facilities centre from premises in Castlegate. Various other locations were considered for the centre before the Castlegate building was declared surplus to requirements about 3 years ago.

The youth facilities were subsequently relocated to Sycamore House.

A series of email exchanges revealed the extent of the “behind closed doors” dealings that the then Labour controlled council had been involved in during 2012.

By April 2017 a Council report revealed that the empty building was worth around £575,000 on the open market.

The report then  went on to justify a sale to the York Conservation Trust for a reduced £431,000 claiming that major repairs were required.

The York Civic Trust promised a £2.8 million upgrade to the building and the adjacent Fairfax House (already owned by the Trust).

This would stimulate tourism for the general benefit of the City centre economy.

So, getting on for 2 years later, what progress has been made?

Very little it seems, with two peak shopping seasons having passed without what is a key location being exploited.

Taxpayers will want to be reassured that the deal, agreed nearly two years ago, is still on course to provide the benefits claimed by officials.

Acomb War Memorial challenge

The York Civic Trust have confirmed that the restoration work that they plan to do on the Acomb War Memorial will be restricted to repairing and cleaning the stonework. Some of the lettering on the monument will also be repainted. The work is partly being sponsored by the Trust with a contribution from the City of York Council. The work is being managed by volunteers.

The scope of the refurbishment falls short of level of work which residents had hoped could be achieved before the Centenary of the end of WW1 which takes place on 11th November.

The original specification for the upgrade had included items like;

  1. Lopping some of the overhanging tree branches to allow more sunlight into the area (and thereby encourage plant growth)
  2. Extending the paving (which currently ends near the entrance) so that wheelchair users could access the memorial
  3. Provision of an interpretation board
  4. The possible provision of a commemorative public seat ( https://www.davidogilvie.com/ww1-seat )

The “Friends of Acomb Green” are hoping to have a fund-raising event shortly but, if more work is to be commissioned, in the time available, it is likely that Council and Ward committee funding will be required.

Drinking fountain restoration tops Civic Trust pop poll

Restoration of the drinking fountain on Lendal was the top priority of those voting in a poll conducted by the York Civic Trust.  It was seeking to timetable several projects for its “City Enhancement Project”

The Civic Trust have said that they will ensure that the War Memorial on Acomb Green is renovated before the 11th November; the centenary of the end of WW1. The work will be part funded by the City of York Council.

A further £6000 will be needed for the drinking fountain restoration.

The other projects mentioned in the poll will be undertaken over the next few years as resources become available.

 

Tours set to offer a view into the past and future of York railway station

City of York Council has teamed up with York Civic Trust to offer a window into York’s railway heritage though a series of guided walks taking place later this month.

The railway station helped to transform the city when it was opened in 1877. At the time of opening it was the largest in the world and connected York to the wider world. It helped attract new businesses, create jobs and wealth for the region while opening up York’s heritage to more visitors from across the country and beyond.

Now the railway station and surrounding area are set to play just as big a part in the first half of the 21st Century. The station will play a key role connecting the city centre and surrounding communities with York Central – one of the largest city-centre regenerations in Europe.

Tours are available to book on:

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 5pm – fully booked
Wednesday, 27 June 2018 6pm
Saturday, 30 June 2018 10am
Saturday, 30 June 2018 11am
Saturday, 30 June 2018 12 noon
Saturday, 30 June 2018 1pm

The events are part of a four-week conversation about plans to transform the front of the station into a ‘fitting gateway to the city’. Under the proposals, the redundant Queen Street Bridge would be removed to create the space for the changes, which include:

  • an improved transport interchange with separate arrival points for cars, buses, taxis and cyclists
  • moving the taxi-rank, drop-off points and short stay parking access to create car-free public spaces in Tea Room Square and a new ‘Station Square’
  • revealing hidden parts of the City Wall, the station and York Railway Institute’s buildings to offer a better setting for the city’s heritage

To book free tickets for the tour visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/york-station-tour-tickets-46841980625

You can see all the proposals online at www.york.gov.uk/stationfront

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