‘Prospect of a Noble Terras Walk’

I wanted to share a few thoughts on the fantastic quality in this etching of the view of the river Ouse in York looking upstream towards the Ouse bridge.

The Ouse Etching
‘Prospect of a Noble Terras Walk’, Nathan Drake 1756.

Produced by Nathan Drake in 1756 it shows the well dressed members of polite society promenading along the, then recently extended, ‘New walk’.

Interesting for us because it shows the Ouse with steeply sloping banks and a very ‘rural’ looking South bank which, in time, will become the park where we now sail our boats. There are of course many other points of interest. You might be interested in the wonderful sailing barges shown here heading for one of the staithes in York, I think the larger one in the foreground would be called a Humber keel and has two masts and is square rigged. It is shown flying some form of White Ensign commonly used by merchant vessels in the 18th century.

The very grand ‘walk’ shown on the right was first laid out in 1730 ‘for public use’ and it follows the trend of many other 18th-century towns and London. It was described in the York Courant in 1754 as one of ‘the most agreeable public walks in the kingdom...not unlike any of the views in Venice’ a view enforced by the 1742 Council Ban on ‘persons exposing themselves naked in or out of the water within sight of it’.

We also see in the distance the wonderful Ouse Bridge ‘The Fairest Arch in England’ built in 1565 to replace the earlier stone bridge after it collapsed in the frozen and flooding waters of January 1564. The New bridge re-joined the split halves of the city and included the provision of seventeen small shops and houses available for rent, a council Chamber, a chapel and a debtors prison.