Simon Perry (centre) at Red Tower during the 2019 York Walls Festival

Since our last blog in February the world is a very different place. Even opening an old tower for a few hours as we plan to do on Saturday is a refreshing change after so many weeks of enforced quiet time.

Planning has continued in a low-key way through the spring, though we had some very sad news in May. Red Tower volunteer and York Walls Festival supporter Simon Perry passed away, and his good advice and kind nature will be sorely missed. He always made the festival committee very welcome at Red Tower. This tribute piece in the York Press also captures some of his endeavours to create a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ café at Red Tower, and also his work for the Walmgate Community Association: Story

We have decided to dedicate the 2020 York Walls Festival to Simon’s memory. Although his presence will be missed, he would be happy to see collaboration between different community groups in York continue.


You will see from the Planned Events page that there are a number of online events planned. These will complement the open days at Fishergate Postern Tower and Red Tower, set for Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 August. Both towers are over 500 years old, and access will be free, thanks to volunteers who are on hand to ensure a safe visit for all. The River Foss Society will also be displaying their boards along Foss Islands Road during the weekend, telling the story of the ‘gap in the walls’ and those who lived and worked by the Foss and it winds through the city centre.

We are pleased to be working with Baz Jones (Sharpstick Productions) to film two video pieces for the festival. The York Liberal Jewish Society will share the story of the 1190 pogrom that saw scores of Jews burned to death in one of the worst anti-semitic attacks on record. They will also consider options for a memorial to the events, as the Clifford’s Tower area is to be redeveloped under the My Castle Gateway plans. The second video will see the River Foss Society feature in a walk from Layerthorpe to Fossgate, bringing alive the story of the river.

Explore York ( ) will be sharing some of their fantastic archive photos in a new Flickr gallery showing off the best of York’s City Walls. There will be a Zoom talk by Ian Tempest on the Red Brick heritage of the city. Bar Walls Manager, Dr. Louisa Hood, will be writing a blog post on the theme of conservation. We also hope to share the plans of the York World Heritage Site Steering Group on the big screen at Red Tower – what do you think of making York a World Heritage site?

Finally, there are parts of the City Walls that are usually off limits. These Hidden Spaces will feature in a new series of videos. They will take you inside some of the smaller towers and behind some of the doors that lie under the main walls walk. As you head back on the walls from tomorrow, look out for some of these corners, and who knows, they may feature in the weeks ahead.

Thank you, and stay safe.

Martin & the festival committee

Simon Perry, fourth from right, at the 2018 York Walls Festival launch evening

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