What’s on : Lectures

York 100 Years Ago, based on the Hanstock Photographic Collection

11 Oct 2022
Start time
2:30 PM
The Yorkshire Museum
Ian Drake, YAYAS
York 100 Years Ago, based on the Hanstock Photographic Collection

Event Information

York 100 Years Ago, based on the Hanstock Photographic Collection

Ian Drake, YAYAS Council Member

YAYAS is fortunate to be the custodians of a number of historic photographic collections. The Hanstock collection consists of the original negatives from the business of Thomas Hanstock a professional photographer in the City of York throughout the first half of the 20th century. ‘Life in York One Hundred Years Ago’ is a chance to see images from this collection most of which have not previously been available for viewing’.

YAYAS (York Architectural and York Archaeological Society) and YPS joint lecture

This lecture will be held in the Tempest Anderson Lecture Theatre in the Yorkshire Museum, York at 2.30pm; all welcome.

Copies of YAYAS publications “York 100 Years Ago” on which this lecture is based will be available at the discounted price of £10.80 and also available will be ‘York a rare insight’ (photographs from the Evelyn Collection) discount price £13.50 and a brand new publication ‘The Making of Roman York’ also at £13.50.

Member’s Report

Many people know that YAYAS houses the Evelyn collection of images of York, less well-known is that YAYAS also holds the Hanstock collection – the glass negatives taken by Thomas Hanstock, a commercial photographer in the first part of the twentieth century. His son, Peter Hanstock, was a member of YAYAS, and donated the collection of over two thousand plates.

Thomas Hanstock came to York as a joiner and worked on the construction of Haxby Rd School in 1904. He must have already been an amateur photographer, as he took several good photographs of the finished school. Perhaps this inspired him to make a career change, because he subsequently set up as a commercial photographer, with a studio at 11 Clarence St.

The collection demonstrates a wide breadth of commercial work. Many of his photographs are of schools, businesses, and factories, presumably commissioned for brochures or other publicity material. Although the people in these have clearly been posed, they do help to give us glimpses of life in those days. Several photographs show the County Hospital. Hanstock was a supporter, in those pre-NHS days, and helped to pay for hospital radio to entertain patients.

Many of the photographs show events – openings, galas, parades, fires, and proclamations – such as the accession of George VI. One picture shows Great Peter on a trailer being returned from the Loughborough Bell Foundry after restoration. These photographs could be sold to the press, or even used to make postcards. In the early years of the 20th century, postcards were popular to send quick messages to family and friends. Pictures of events, as well as views, were often used.

Hanstock was at the Great Yorkshire Gala in Bootham Park in 1911, ready to take photographs, when a tethered hot air balloon carrying a pilot and nine passengers broke free from its mooring, rose several hundred feet into the air and floated about 11 miles until it got caught in a tree near Elvington.  A Major Lindberg had been able to chase it on his bicycle and was able to telephone the good news that all passengers were safe. Hanstock was on hand to record the events in the park.

During the second world war, Hanstock was asked to produce photos to help firewatchers identify which parts of the city were under attack. Sadly, he was not able to record the celebrations at the end of the war, as he died in 1942. His wife continued the business until 1965

Margaret Leonard