York Railway Station


This is where the gulls assemble at night 

to hold their raucous caucus: 

on the roof of the National Railway Museum. 

Squabbling over yesteryear’s holiday machines. 

And from here, if you turn to six o’ clock, 

you’ll see the trains of now,

braking or accelerating across the bridge. 


The station. So familiar and steady 

that you can look at pictures from 70 years ago 

and feel like you could step right into it –

the protective-but-grand ceiling, 

the impossible cosiness 

and the clean, open platforms.

And in the near-distance, the Roman Walls.



The Principal Hotel sticks up stout 

in a square-built, yellow-brick tower,

wrapped in staircases 

whose elegant embrace reminds me of Paris. 

Closer up, the car park and the back route in,

fronted with the departures board 

which always gives me that giddy sense of adventure. 

Have you packed everything? 


This corner is one of my favourites – 

not for tourists, who only pause here

to perform frowns and ask directions –

but to me it is the site of so many meeting places. 

For a casual coffee date, or a time-check 

on my nightly route to the theatre,

the place to hug my friend Eliza goodnight 

after setting the world straight 

over indulgent hot chocolates,

or aimless wanderings 

between high street windows. 


If I’m feeling sociable, I’ll take the footpath, 

where you share the meter’s width, 

and make way for cyclists and buggies. 


Just before the footbridge, 

adorned in the freshest street art, 

peer through the iron fence, 

and brush at the enticing wilderness, 

the weed-sprouting concrete. 

They’re building on it now, of course, 

but you can still strive to see through the portacabins – 

They’re made of paper, really, anyway. 


If you get lost, look for the Tourist Information sign 

behind St. Paul’s Square. 

Don’t worry – all paths lead to home.  


Once you reach the school 

you’ll meet our cul-de-sac path. 

And, if you’re lucky, Harry – 

the neighbourhood heartthrob, fed at every door. 

A gentle old ginger-and-white soul 

with only affection for all, 

and a deceptive fragility 

that allows him regular catches,

bigger than you could imagine. 

A regular Six Dinner Sid. 


Follow his trot to my door.

Bring him in, if you like, have a cuddle! 

Welcome to York. 

The kettle’s on – how d’you take your tea?


Anna Rose James (Adapted by Ruth Yates)

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