A Grand Day (or Two) Out In York
Trains – huge and small, dinner on station platforms 4 & 5, boats on the river in beautiful sun, a soaring cathedral and a moving evensong, dinner with two Lord Mayors – one current the other our Master, a visit to Mansion House. All this happened in York at the Master’s Week End.
The weekend began with a special visit to the National Railway Museum. The Museum Director, Judith McNicol, welcomed us and took us through the history of the museum. This was followed by a tour of a special display of historical documents and photographs then round some of the engines in the Great Hall. Gosh what an experience from the small replica of Stephenson’s Rocket to the immense and evocative locomotives from the end of the steam age. Then onto electric and diesel trains followed by high speed trains and Eurotunnel. A pause for tea in the station hall before a presentation of the royal carriages from Queen Victoria’s era through to today. The craftmanship was of the highest quality. The afternoon ended with a short time to wander through the museum on our own after the public had left.
We regrouped in the Station Hall for a welcome glass of champagne before dining on platforms 4 & 5. We were entertained with some amusing anecdotes by Frank Paterson, who joined the railways straight from school as a junior clerk and ended up in charge of a third of them. He ran the network stretching over 18 counties from the Thames to the Tweed at his York headquarters – a florid, confident building in a prominent spot near the end of the track of the city’s original station and now a hotel where we stayed for the weekend. Frank is now President of the Friends of the National Railway Museum.
Saturday was a lovely sunny day as we gathered at the riverside for a boat trip along the River Ouse. Then we had some free time to wander round the beautiful city of York before meeting in the Minster for a highly informative tour of a building dating back over two millennia yet with modern parts such as the restoration following the fire in 1984. Some of the party then remained for a moving choral evensong.
In the evening we gathered in Bedern Hall which was originally part of the College of the Vicars Choral. The hall was the refectory (or dining hall) for the college from the 1390s until the middle of the 17th century. The hall, chapel and gatehouse are all that remain of the college but was a fitting setting for a dinner. Our guest of honour was the Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Janet Looker.
On Sunday morning, we were welcomed to the Mansion House by the Lord Mayor and given a conducted tour. York Mansion House is the earliest purpose built house for a Lord Mayor still in existence and predates the Mansion House in London by at least twenty years.
A great weekend for which all those present give many thanks to the Master and “spreadsheet Nick” for all their hard work in making it such a special occasion.