'We're coming up!': Fishergate Postern opens to the public for York Walls Festival

·2-min read
Clockwise from left: Fishergate Postern Tower; Peter Baker's spiral installation at the tower's top; volunteers waiting to greet visitors; and an exhibition of photographs from the Chinese walled city of Nanjing half way up the tower
Clockwise from left: Fishergate Postern Tower; Peter Baker's spiral installation at the tower's top; volunteers waiting to greet visitors; and an exhibition of photographs from the Chinese walled city of Nanjing half way up the tower

IT was one-way traffic only as visitors flocked to see the ancient Fishergate Postern Tower today - one of only 21 days of the year when it is open to the public.

The Tower is open as part of the York Walls Festival Summer Weekend, which has been running all weekend.

Because the spiral stairs leading to the tower's upper floors are so narrow, the Friends of York Walls had to institute a one-way systen.

Chairman of the Friends Bill Hill was on hand at the tower's base to explain.

"Call out 'coming up' if you're going up, and 'coming down' if you're coming down. And it's right of way to those coming down!" he said.

York Press:
York Press:

'Coming up!' - a view up the twisting spiral stairs in the tower

The tower was echoing to calls of 'coming up' and 'coming down' today - and for good reason.

On the first floor there is a display of photographs fromn the ancient Chinese walled city of Nanjing - part of an exchange in which the Chinese city provided photographs for an exhibition in York, while York did the same for an exhibition in China.

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York Press:

A display of photos from Nanjing half way up the tower

On the top floor of the tower, meanwhile, is an installation by artist Peter Baker. It is a spiral made of old, discarded wood blocks - with a plumb bob hanging from a beam above it.

The spiral is intended to complement the tower's spiral staircase, Peter explained. The wood blocks - all discarded or recovered from skips - represent the age and history of York. And a plumb bob or something very like it would have been used when the tower was built, to make sure it was straight and vertical.

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York Press:

Peter Baker with his spiral installation

Today's Fishergate Postern Tower is the second to have stood here, according to the Fishergate, Fulford and Heslington Local History Society. The first may have dated from about 1345. After Fishergate Bar was destroyed in 1489 the city fathers decided a mopre substantial gateb was needed at Fishergate. The Postern is thought to have been rebuilt in about 1502.

The Red Tower further along the city walls on Foss Islands Road has also been open this weekend as part of the York Walls Festival.