YCAA Study Day in Scarborough – registration open

Registration is now open for the YCAA Study Day in Scarborough: via Eventbrite.


YCAA is delighted to announce that alumni Stephen Gandolfi (Class of 2015/17), Conservation Officer at Scarborough Council, has arranged a free-of-charge study day in the town for YCAA alumni.

The site of a Roman signal station, Scarborough became an established town during the medieval era when an Angevin stone castle was established on the headland. Thereafter, it transformed into a spa town from the C17 onwards, and became the first popular British seaside resort destination in the C19. It remains the largest such resort in Yorkshire.

Consequently, the study day will address conservation issues that are pertinent to British coastal resorts with rich heritage. These are likely to include environmental issues, such as coastal erosion, as well as man-made issues, including the rise and fall (and rise again?) of the British seaside resort, the role heritage and conservation can play in coastal resort regeneration, and challenges set by high levels of socio-economic inequality.

The itinerary for the day is likely to be as follows:

  • 10:00: Meet outside the front of Scarborough Train Station.
  • 10:15 – 11.00: Visit to the Old Parcels Office conversion project, which was funded by Railway Heritage Trust, English Heritage (as it then was), the Arts Council and Network Rail. Scarborough’s retired Conservation Officer, Chris Hall, will introduce the building and its conservation issues https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/grants/visit/the-old-parcels-office-scarborough-station-yo11-1tn/
  • 11.00 – 12.00: Chris Hall will lead a tour of Scarborough Old Town, which includes buildings dating back from the medieval period right through to the modern day. The Castle Ward is economically polarised with social housing immediately adjacent to large dwellings lived in by the rich (and in some cases the famous) – and this proves to be a challenge for planning/ heritage applications.
  • 12.00 – 13.15: Lunchbreak: fish & chips on the front, or in the Harbour Bar or similar if the weather is against us.
  • 13.15 – 14.15: A visit to Scarborough Spa, South Cliff Gardens area, which has been stripped of the planned landscape and currently undergoing multi-million pound engineer works to ensure the cliffs do not fail. Small land slippages have happened recently which has led to the partial failure of a listed block of chalets in this area. https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/heritage-at-risk/search-register/list-entry/25879 / http://www.friendsofsouthcliffgardens.com/
  • 14:15 – 16:00: A visit to Woodend Creative Industry Centre – the former home of the famous Sitwell family and later a museum, now a creative industry centre, set within the Georgian Crescent which also includes the Art Gallery. https://www.woodendcreative.co.uk/ – followed by an ice cream / tea or coffee at Yay Coffee! We are hoping that the Director of Woodend, Andrew Clay, will be able to speak to us during our visit (to be confirmed).


There is no charge for the study trip, however alumni are required to arrange their own transport and pay for their own lunch and sundries.


A lunchbreak will allow alumni to enjoy Fish & Chips (and alternative vegetarian and vegan options!) on the harbour front (or in the Harbour Bar or similiar if the weather is against us), although bringing your own pack lunch is also welcome.


There are plenty of hourly trains from York to Scarborough (50 minute journey). On-the-day purchased Anytime returns cost £18.80 (£12.40 with a young persons, senior railcard etc).

The preferred train from York would be the 8:44 which arrives in Scarborough at 9:35am.

There is a 16:46 return train that arrives back in York at 17:36.

For anyone driving, there are a number of car parks in Scarborough in or close to the railway station (Scarborough Car Park, Westborough. YO11 1TN; Victoria Rd, YO11 1SF; Westwood, YO11 2PN).

There is also a regular No.843 ‘Coastliner’ bus service between York and Scarborough (1h 50m journey). See here for the timetable.

Footwear & clothing

Please wear suitable clothing and footwear for a moderate amount of walking, including hills, and any potential inclement weather.

If you have any questions, please contact Duncan Marks at djem500@york.ac.uk

Register for the event now using the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ycaa-study-day-in-scarborough-tickets-56824810538?fbclid=IwAR1hmL_ECTj6IRFQIZk_Oo5XplCzsMnSWvLMkZZYUpjQ0SFhvrzYHJnzz4U


Save the date: YCAA Study Day in Scarborough, Saturday 16 March 2019


York Conservation Alumni Association is delighted to announce that alumni Stephen Gandolfi (2015/17), Conservation Officer at Scarborough Council, is currently arranging a study day in the town on behalf of YCAA members.

The site of a Roman signal station, Scarborough became an established town during the medieval era when an Angevin stone castle was established on the headland. Thereafter, it transformed into a spa town from the C17 onwards, and became the first popular British seaside resort destination in the C19. It remains the largest such resort in Yorkshire.

Consequently, the study day will address conservation issues that are pertinent to British coastal resorts with rich heritage. These are likely to include environmental issues, such as coastal erosion, as well as man-made issues, including the rise and fall (and rise again?) of the British seaside resort, the role heritage and conservation can play in coastal resort regeneration, and challenges set by high levels of socio-economic inequality.

An itinerary for the day is currently being put together by Stephen, but may well include:

A full schedule of the day will be made available shortly, when alumni will be able to sign-up via an Eventbrite page.

There will be no charge for the study trip, however alumni will be required to provide their own transport (there are plenty of reasonably priced hourly trains from York to Scarborough) and pay for their own lunch and sundries. [Fish & Chips and ice creams will likely be on the menu – regardless of the weather!]


South Cliff Gardens undergoing engineering works to prevent further cliff erosion. SOURCE: South Cliff Gardens Twitter



YCAA Study Tour of Tallinn, Estonia; Part 3: Kadriorg & Kalamaja

By Peter Fisher, YCAA (Class of 1972-73)



On the last day of our visit, we met up at Hobujaama, jumped onto one of Tallinn’s excellent new trams and headed east to the residential suburb and park of Kadriorg, where we were met by our guide, Markus, a student at the Estonian Academy of Arts.  This consists largely of timber buildings, in various stages of dilapidation or repair.  It was originally built as a middle-class development but during the post-war Soviet period, the previous owners were dispossessed and the houses subdivided to house an influx of predominantly Russian immigrants, who were later to be housed in large Plattenbau’-type housing schemes on the city’s periphery.  With the reestablishment of the Estonian Republic in 1991, the area began to be rehabilitated and restored, but this has been somewhat impeded by ownership problems.

Kadroirg Palace. Source: Visit Estonia

Kadriorg means Catherine’s Valley and the park was laid out in the early C18 by Peter the Great in honour of his wife Catherine I.  Its centrepiece is the colourful baroque Kadriorg Palace, reminiscent of the Hermitage in St Petersburg, though on a much smaller scale, which gives it a slightly ‘doll’s house’ character.  Today it is the Kadriorg Art Museum, housing a collection of mainly foreign art. We also saw the Presidential Palace, dating from 1938 and now again in the use for which it was built, complete with a ceremonial military guard.  We then walked on through the park to view the very impressive Kumu [Kunstimuuseum] building, a spectacular modern structure, cleverly integrated into the park landscape and containing predominantly Estonian art.  Unfortunately, being Monday, it was closed but we were able to enjoy much-needed refreshments in the café before heading back to the tram terminus and the centre of Tallinn. Continue reading

YCAA Study Tour of Tallinn, Estonia; Part 2: Vernacular and Modern

By Keith Garner (Class of 1992-93), a London-based architect


Open-Air Museum

Day two of the study tour began at the Estonian Open-Air Museum, located to the west of the Old Town at Rocca al Mare.  We were shown around by Marike Laht, head of the conservation department.  The collection consists of farmsteads and other building types showing the development of Estonian vernacular architecture.  The earlier buildings are log-built farmsteads, with interesting corner jointing techniques varying by region and over time.  A transformation is seen in the later nineteenth century with the advent of sawn timber allowing further levels of refinement, for example the very fine house from the Eastern Virumaa district of 1909.

A fine sawn-timber farmhouse from Eastern Virumaa district (1909) at the Open Air Museum. Source: Keith Garner

The museum site at Rocca Al Mare site is forested, enabling each building to be experienced largely as a single entity as it would have been in its original location.  Part of the site opens on to Kopli Bay where, appropriately, the museum has located a fisherman’s house, and from where we could see back to the Old Town.  Beyond the mostly tree-lined bay (with the occasional new seaside apartment block) we could see the spires of the Old Town and – jarringly – large buildings from the Soviet era and more recent times immediately beyond. Continue reading

YCAA Study Tour of Tallinn, Estonia; Part 1: the Old Town

By Jaanika Reinvald-Colley, YCAA (Class of 2014-15).

The three-day Tallinn study tour started on the evening of Friday 7 September when we met at the Pegasus restaurant, in the building formerly known as the Writers’ House, built in 1963 to fill a gap created in the bombing of Tallinn during WWII. This happened to coincide with Tallinn’s marathon celebrations and as a result the city centre was entirely packed with people.

Tallinn Old Town

Our first day in Tallinn was spent on getting to know the Old Town. We started the day on Vabaduse Square at 10 o’clock where we were welcomed by one of our guides, Sabina Kaukis, an MA Conservation Studies student from the Estonian Academy of Arts [EEA]. From Sabina we learned about the early history of Estonia and Tallinn.

Being a small country in a strategic location on the shores of the Baltic Sea, Estonian history is one of subjugation and serfdom. Starting with the Northern Crusades in the Middle Ages, Estonia became a battleground for centuries where Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland fought their many wars over controlling the important geographical position of the country as a gateway between East and West.

Tallinn was founded in the 10th Century, but only at the beginning of the 13th Century did the Danes establish it as a fortified city. In 1285, the city joined the Hanseatic League and became a junction for organized trade on the Baltic Sea. In 1346 the city was transferred to the Teutonic Order. After the collapse of the Teutonic Order, the city fell under Swedish rule in 1561 and finally became part of the Tsarist Russia in 1710 during the Great Northern War. It was Peter I who restored the ancestral privileges of the established German community in Tallinn. The architecture in the old town, both upper and lower, to a great extent stems from the medieval times, 13th-14th Century and represent the history of the rulers.

The ‘Tall Hermann’ tower (far right) as part of Toompea Castle, Tallinn, with the roof of the Parliament Building seen above the battlements. Source: Visit Estonia.

Continue reading

Studley Royal Park & Fountains Abbey, YCAA study trip Saturday, 29 September, 2018

By Lily Liu, MA in Conservation Studies postgraduate (Class of 2018-19)

It was a beautiful sunny day and the perfect trip to mark the end of a technical orientation week. Thanks to the Alumni Association of the University of York, the new 2018/19 cohort of Conservation Studies and fellow alumni were able to visit the World Heritage Site of Studley Royal Park and Fountains Abbey. Led by Dr. Keith Emerick, Inspector of Ancient Monuments and an expert long-involved with the conservation management of the site, the tour offered a fascinating glimpse of English architecture, landscape and culture over the span of several centuries.

St Mary’s Church, Studley Royal

The tour this year took a more academic approach compared to how last year’s MA students experienced Fountains Abbey. It was also an interesting ‘back to front’ approach, starting from the far end of the World Heritage Site at the Victorian church of St. Mary, where special access was granted for us, and ending at the abbey itself.

St Mary’s illustrious Gothic Revival interiors by William Burgess were a visual feast, and all were keen to take in the splendour of the gilding, sculpture, painting, stained glass, and other impressive crafts of art present in the building. Dr. Emerick also elucidated some major building phases, pointing out evidence of past structural issues and the importance of understanding the root of these problems from a conservation perspective.

The “Surprise View” from Anne Bolyen’s Seat, with modern art installation (rather camouflaged here) on the mound in the centre of the picture.

From the church, the group meandered through the Georgian Water Gardens and its associated landscape and architectural follies. Though controversy over some modern art installations ensued over the course of intellectual debate, all agreed the views were nonetheless breathtaking and form part of an important historic environs. The aptly named “Surprise View” from the hideaway of Anne Boleyn’s seat did not disappoint, and acted as the perfect prelude to our finale: the spectacular ruins of the 11th-century Fountains Abbey.

Dr. Keith Emerick illustrating conservation issues associated with one of the Abbey’s remaining arcade columns.

The monumental remnants of Fountains Abbey made for fitting ambience to stir the hearts of all conservation enthusiasts present. We began by stepping through the history of the vaults, into the open corridors of stone arches stretching toward the sky. Previous evidential values of plaster were examined, as Dr. Emerick drew our attention to the markings on the walls which showed a historic preference for more “
regular” drawn-on stone blocks, over the top of the uneven natural cut ashlar — though of very fine quality itself.

Evidence of historic plaster on the Abbey’s walls, with drawn lines added to ‘improve’ the stonework by making it appear more regular.

The visit to Studley Royal Park – including all its gems of the Church of St. Mary, the Water Gardens, and the ruins of Fountains Abbey – was a highlight to the start of the year, and a trip that all participants involved will remember fondly, for the beautiful weather, picturesque settings as well as educational discussions.


The YCAA would like to thank Dr. Keith Emerick for kindly giving up his time to lead this visit, current students and alumni for attending, Lily for this fine write-up, and the University of York’s Office of Philanthropic Partnerships and Alumni for help in assisting the visit. 

[All images by Lily Liu]

York’s Railway Heritage

As a prelude to the York Conservation Alumni Association’s 2018 AGM on Saturday 14 July 2018, a healthy turnout of almost twenty alumni joined John Ives for a fascinating walking tour of some of York’s leading railway heritage.

Despite the unfortunate timing of the tour to coincide with the sweltering summer heat, the height of the tourist season, impatient traffic, and, worse still, streams of jovial punters heading to York Racecourse for the ‘John Smith’s Cup’, we were clearly in dependable hands.  John Ives is a Conservation Accredited Architect and a partner of York-based PPIY Architects Limited, as well as Chair of the City of York Council’s Conservation Area Appraisal Panel.  He has also been a leading figure in railway heritage for over the 40 years, due to having worked for British Rail’s Architects Department until its demise with privatisation in 1995, and as co-author of the York Station Conservation Development Strategy (2012).

In John’s introductory, and richly-illustrated, presentation, held in a spacious seminar room above Platform 8 of Thomas Presser’s highly impressive Grade II* Railway Station of 1877, it was evident that the Strategy Report of 2012 was a detailed audit of the city’s railway heritage, which spans nearly 200 years and numerous sites.  Who knew, for example, that the city has had three central railway stations in total, or that one of the country’s oldest extant water tower (built in 1839, Grade II listed) is tucked away in one of the station’s car parks!

YCAA alumni
John Ives (centre, to the rear), pointing out the rich history of the Railway Institute building, with the foundations of the Queen Street bridge behind. Source: Duncan Marks.


Continue reading