The York Press this week reported that the Bonding Warehouse, a building by the side of the river near Clifford’s Tower, has been bought by local developers:
YORK’S historic Bonding Warehouse has been bought by a developer and looks set to be transformed into a digital media and cultural centre with a public exhibition space.
The landmark riverside building near Skeldergate Bridge, which has lain empty and boarded up since being severely flooded in November 2000, has been bought by York developers Grantside for an undisclosed sum.
The Bonding Warehouse, a reliable source of the sort of endless moaning that only a local paper can provide, dates to the late nineteenth century and spent much of its existence as a pub. In 2000 it was closed down after heavy flooding, and has been officially empty ever since, with a series of potential offers coming up and then being rejected.
Unofficially, however, the building has seen a fair bit of activity over its decade-plus of being empty. In 2004, squatters occupied the building as part of a series of squats aimed at drawing attention to the waste of buildings in the city. The squat was run by the York Peace Collective, who first made their name squatting the (still) abandoned White Swan Hotel as part of York’s anti-war movement.
A few years later, in winter 2006, the Bonding Warehouse was again squatted, this time by a mix of residents and students including the University of York’s anarchist society at the time, FreeSoc (not to be confused with the current right-wing “libertarian” Freedom Society). The squatters opened up the building as a social centre, putting on musical performances, workshops, political debates, art displays and more. An archive of the York Indymedia gives a flavour of what it was like.
While it’s true that we’ve heard it all before, with one offer after another coming along and falling through, it is at least reasonably likely that this one will work out. How it will all turn out is anyone’s guess. But it is reassuring to know that, even briefly, the abandoned space was put to a use other than yet another business hub or bland cafe.
Were you involved in either of the squats? Did you visit them? Comment here!