ACOMB TIME TRAVELLER
A project ran by young artists for young artists of Acomb. We are grateful to Acomb Ward for funding this wonderful project that has engaged so many young people from the West of York.
Where does the name Acomb come from?
We like to think that that if the invading Romans based their ‘Eboracum’ on the existing Celtic name then the name Acomb, which originally came from Acham and was pronounced ‘Yackam’, probably came from Celtic roots too, though the more recognizable ‘Acum’ probably came from the Anglo Saxons who settled in Britain long after the Romans left.
It just means ‘at the oak trees’, and can be found in place names such as Acklam in Middlesbrough and Ackton near Castleford.
Like in Bath, there is a lot of evidence that, after the first bit of invading, the Romans found the Celts easy to live alongside, and even adopted some of their gods. Septimus Severus was the Roman Emperor and not only lived in York, he actually died here, and was buried in Acomb after a massive funeral procession. This happened in 211 and was colossal global news at the time. We think that more could be made of the fact that Severus is buried here. Rumour has it that the local Roman garrison created what is now the hill at Windmill Rise as the burial site.
The Romans made the news more recently when archaeologists found a very well preserved Gladiator graveyard just outside Acomb. Some horrible wounds were discovered on the skeleton remains, such as wounds left by lion bites. It’s a shame the natives of Acomb didn’t manage to civilize the Romans out of their horrific ideas of what sport was!
We spent sometime researching Henry VIII and just how much he ruined York. York’s original Minster stood proud where the ruins in Museum Gardens are now. He must have been very determined to destroy what must have one of the most beautiful buildings in the north. It is easy to see why the Monks at the time wanted to rebel. Led by Robert Aske, they marched to London and demanded the King stop his destruction. This march became known as the Pilgrimage of Grace and started in Acomb, at where Acomb Grange is now. Robert Aske was eventually executed at Clifford’s Tower. There is now a blue plaque at Clifford’s Tower commemoratinmg him. When we worked at the studio According to McGee we all went and stood by it, talking about the time and taking photos.
When industry really started no grow and provide not only Britain but the rest of the world with what people needed, a lot of Acomb was sold to create railway lines. This created a lot of work for men looking for work at the time, and meant that as a village Acomb continued to grow and grow. The men needed somewhere to stay at night, and so Acomb created areas of hospitality for them. This happened in the 1850s. It’s easy to imagine scenes almost out of Dickens, but rather than in London, here in acomb. The work the railway men did was tough and life was hard on the streets. We spent some time on Acomb’s Front Street, walking around, imagining boys and girls walking around where Acomb Explore is now. Many of us created Oliver Twist type illustrations.
RECENT ACOMB AND FUTURE ACOMB
Some of us went to coffee events in church halls around York and talked to older residents who volunteered to meet our team. A lot of the talk was easy going and we discussed films from the past, and books, and how Acomb has changed in the life time of the older residents. The biggest change is traffic, and also, unfortunately, litter, but it is good to see local schools stressing the importance of tidiness and how to dispose of litter properly. We invented a series of Litter Emojis that we displayed in places around York and Acomb to help people sit up and take notice.
Acomb Green is a place where a lot of happy memories took place. Our team and the older residents really enjoyed the sessions, and some friendships were made.
A lot of people have been very happy with the annual ADAM events. ADAM stands for Acomb Dance Art Music, and it has been ran by local councilor Keith Myers since 2010. Local businesses have agreed that it is good for the areas as more people come and visit the place in July and spend more money buying local produce.
We enjoyed the sessions very much. It was good to have a focus on the timeline of Acomb and it was very interesting to have other young people as assistant teachers. We are looking forward to exhibiting our artwork in Acomb, not only this year, but in other years to come!
Young Artists of Acomb, Acomb, York, 2019