Just south of the centre of York, you’ll find Bishopthorpe Road, and Scarcroft Road; two streets which have become infamous for their thriving independent businesses, unwavering community spirit, and of course, for replicating good ol’ fashioned high streets. As thousands of high street outlets have closed in the last decade, only to leave behind a wasteland of estate agents, this tight-knit community of residents and business owners are determined to maintain this highstreets’ undying passion.
Family run businesses on these streets are seeing generation after generation keen to take on the business and keep their family trades alive; and when shop owners are looking to move on, there are grateful hands guaranteed to take the keys and begin their own chapter. It goes without saying that the people of Bishopthorpe Road and Scarcroft Road really are at the heart of what makes this neighbourhood so remarkable.
SHOPPING & LIFESTYLE
Setting the Scene with Flowers
At the top of Bishopthorpe Road stands the very striking ‘Setting the Scene with Flowers’. Richard Bothamley and his partner Glenn Hamilton established their floristry shop over 7 years ago, converting the building from a somewhat dull letting agency into what is now their bright and charming business. Collectively, the pair have over 20 years floristry experience, and previously ran another florist in nearby Boston Spa.
Alongside running their business, which is certainly blooming, the pair have hit the headlines on many occasions throughout their years at Setting the Scene with Flowers; they have been paid visits by David Cameron and the Archbishop of York Jon Sentamu, provided a crown display made entirely from flowers for the Queen’s coronation, as well as providing the bouquet for visiting Princess Beatrice.
Across the road is Millie’s greengrocers, which is believed to be the longest-running produce supplier in Yorkshire, celebrating 100 years of business last year. The business was first established in 1918 in York Market by the current owner Simon’s Great Grandfather, John Pennington. The business was then passed down to Simon’s Grandmother and Grandfather Millie and Eric Pennington, who brought the greengrocers to Bishy Road under the name E & M Pennington greengrocers.
Naturally, it was later passed on to Simon’s father, and then finally onto Simon Raynes and his wife Leanne in 2006. Simon has fond memories of working alongside his Dad, particularly during strawberry season, when Simon would not be able to attend school as there was simply too much to do during that time.
Around twenty years ago, Simon became aware of the changing market, with the rise of supermarkets and customers doing weekly shops, as well as restaurants becoming increasingly more popular, he made the decision to begin wholesaling and supplying restaurants. Although his Dad was originally against the idea, Simon’s growing list of keen restaurants soon brought his Dad round to the prospect of wholesaling. Since then, the shop has never looked back, and Millie’s now employs eight full time staff and has over 130 loyal customers in the books.
Pexton’s Hardware has been serving the community of Bishopthorpe Road since 1933; originally opening as a bicycle repair shop, Pexton’s has evolved over the years to become what customers describe as the ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of traditional hardware. Current owners Dan Ebdon and his wife Clare Gilham pride themselves on Pexton’s ability to serve just about everything and anything, from postal stamps, light bulbs, and mops, to Swiss army knives and cement.
Before owning Pexton’s, Dan and Clare were both avid fans of the hardware shop, and bought the shop within 24 hours of it being on the market. The hardware haven was handed over to the pair by previous owners, Johnny and Frankie Hayes, who owned Pexton’s for 13 years before moving on to open their new business a few doors down.
Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop
In 2011, Johnny and Frankie established their new business Frankie and Johnny’s Cookshop. The pair had always been heavily involved with the Bishopthorpe Road community, and Johnny is known locally as “Mr Bishy Road” for his efforts in leading the suburban shopping parade that is Bishopsthorpe Road on to win the title of Britain’s High Street of the Year in 2015, and of course for forming the Bishopsthorpe Road Traders Association.
The cookshop had always been a dream of Frankie’s, but after 7 years of successful business, the pair decided it was time to hand the shop over to new owners, Tim and Jo Asquith. Although both having never worked in retail before, Jo and Tim believed the cookshop would be the perfect opportunity to begin a new chapter. Jo previously worked as a buyer for a brewery, and later moved to the department for environment, food and rural affairs in York, and Tim was previously a sales manager for a BMW dealership.
Bishy Road’s famous family-run butchers, M&K Quality Butchers was first established over 40 years ago by Philip Kneavsey and his wife Lindsey. Philip originally learnt his trade in the late 60’s, when shortly after he was informed by a family member that a butcher’s shop had become available on Bishopthorpe Road. At only 21 years of age, this was quite a leap for Mr Kneavsey, but after the first six weeks it was clear to see the risk paid off, and he would need extra staff to cope with the rapid growth of the business.
Throughout the years, M&K Quality Butchers has gone from strength to strength, and the shop is now run by brothers Matthew and Simon Kneavsey. Simon’s children, Charlotte and Ben also work weekends and on busy occasions such as Christmas; they look forward to joining the business full-time when they leave school. Locally, M&K Butchers is known for its legendary Christmas Eve queueing, which they begin preparing for as early as August.
The Bishy Weigh
Alice Hildred, owner of The Bishy Weigh, set herself the goal last year to try living a little greener. She became involved with her local community garden, attended beach clean-ups on the Yorkshire Coast, and shopped on Bishopthorpe Road to try cut down on packaged foods and food waste. Despite her efforts, Alice felt as though trying to shop completely packaging-free was somewhat impossible. It then occurred to her that a useful addition to Bishopthorpe Road would be an eco-pantry shop, and she opened The Bishy Weigh in 2018.
Alice established The Bishy Weigh with the intention of it working collectively with the rest of Bishopthorpe Road’s independent shops, creating a zero-waste alternative to a supermarket. At the Bishy Weigh, customers are encouraged to bring their own containers to fill up with everything from pasta and olive oil to shampoo and washing up liquid. Alice and the team also make and sell their own nut milks and nut butters, and source many products locally. Alice’s hopes for The Bishy Weigh to work in collaboration with other Bishy Road indies has, to no surprise, proved successful. Of course, the street has welcomed her and the business with open arms; owner Debbie from Debbie’s Flowers and Fruitique made window flower boxes for Alice’s shop, and there are talks of devising a delivery scheme for multiple produce shops on Bishopthorpe Road.
Noun was established earlier this year after two friends and previous Bishy Road traders teamed up to bring a new homeware and lifestyle shop to the booming Bishopthorpe Road. Ellie McManaman, who used to run Bare, and Gaynor Parr-Manley, who previously ran Olive’s Nest, made a blossoming friendship whilst trading individually on the street; so much so, they then decided to launch a joint venture. Together, they now own Noun, a beautifully intriguing store which perfectly depicts the pair’s attention to detail and design skills. Ellie and Gaynor have combined many of the lesser-known brands from their previous shops alongside new ranges, and inside Noun you’ll be welcomed with what is essentially a breath-taking shrine of one-off design pieces for the home, as well as a range of clothing, giftware and decoration.
Adding to this neighbourhoods ever-growing list of family-run businesses, Helston Street is run by mother and daughter team Vanessa and Lucy. Founded in 2015, Helston Street began life at SPARK in the city centre, but before long, Vanessa and Lucy were looking to find a more permanent spot, as they had quickly begun to outgrow their modest space in one of the famous SPARK shipping containers. And so, Helston Street was brought to Scarcroft Road, where they have gone from strength to strength selling vintage furniture and home décor. Lucy and Vanessa share a passion for a vintage style; together they scour flea markets and vintage fairs to find unique and stylish pieces which fit their combined styles of French country farmhouse/modern English house.
FOOD & DRINK
After training as a Chef with the famous Roux Restaurants, Michael returned to his native York to begin his new venture of fine dining, opening Melton’s on Scarcroft Road in 1990 with his wife Lucy, who runs front of house. Michael’s position as Chef Proprietor saw Melton’s being named as one of York’s leading restaurants, although their success did not end there; now, Michael’s good friend and past colleague, Calvin Miller, is the restaurant’s head chef and across the years, Melton’s has earned itself a more than deserved reputation for excellence, as Michael’s original recipes and Calvin’s additional flare continues to draw crowds in from near and far.
The Angel on The Green
Joining Bishopthorpe Road in 2016, The Angel on The Green was welcomed with open arms by many Bishy locals. Running as a successful combination of café, bar and restaurant, The Angel on The Green has proved to be the perfect addition to the neighbourhood, offering a relaxed family-friendly space for evening meals, but also vibrant bar space. All of which was the intention of the three local residents who set up The Angel on The Green, Pete, Terry, and Lucy, all of whom put their heads together to create exactly what they felt the area was missing. In the daytime café, you’ll find frothy coffees, morning breakfast, and afternoon menus of platters, pizzas, and tapas-style dishes. After 9pm, the space transforms seamlessly into a laid-back bar, an element which the Pete, Terry, and Lucy felt was pivotal; creating a space for locals to enjoy a drink without feeling the need to trek into the city centre.