The Evelyn Collection
Dr Evelyn and YAYAS
On a snowy day in January 1891 a young medical practitioner, Dr William Arthur Evelyn emerged from York Station on his way to enter General Practice with the York surgeon Dr Jalland. In the dim half-light of a winter's afternoon the city walls in their mantle of white looked magnificent and created a great impression on the young man. He was later to say, 'I fell in love with York then and have been increasingly in love with it ever since'.
For some years his medical duties gave him no time to get involved in other activities but in 1902 he joined YAYAS. Elected Treasurer in 1905 and Secretary in 1910 he was able to use the Society to lead many campaigns against the damage done to the city he loved by both the Corporation and private interests, mostly in the form of large advertisement boards 'besmirching' building walls!
Dr Evelyn gave his first lecture to the Society on 23 February 1909 entitled 'Ouse Bridge and her Burden' illustrated with glass slides which he had had made from the topographical prints and drawings which he had been collecting for some years previously. Nearly three years later, on 1 November, he embarked on what was to become an annual series of lectures to raise money for St Stephen’s Orphanage and to stimulate the interest of those who were willing to join him in preserving York's buildings against the 'ruthless march of commercialism'. Over the next two decades, to illustrate these lectures he amassed some 3000 large glass slides. These he bequeathed to YAYAS just a month before his death in 1935.
Now, housed in permanent archival conditions in York Minster Library, his slides form the basis of a much larger collection of Yorkshire images, the result of gifts and bequests from, amongst others, Eric Gee, Terry Gardner, Laurie Watson and Peter Hanstock. In its new home the collection will be stored, conserved and curated to appropriate modern standards which will ensure its survival for many years to come. Gifts of suitable images to add to it are always welcome.
Access to the collection is freely available, in accordance with Dr Evelyn's wishes,' to students and researchers but a fee is charged for commercial use.
Applications to see slides from the collection should be addressed to the Keeper of the Photographic Collection :
either by email to
or by post to
26 Burtree Avenue