Page updated 17 September 2008
Originally, York Street as it was known, was a lane that ran from Sidwell Street to turn left towards St Sidwells Church and right down Well Street. The area had significance to the Romans as they built a cemetery in the York Road, Wells Street area just behind the Duke of York pub.
The first proposal to extend York Road through to Hillcourt was in August 1826. Then in 1853, St Sidwell's School was constructed and in 1855, York Road was finally extended to meet Longbrook Street at Hill's Court. The land for the extension had belonged to Mr Hart and the Dean and Chapter. The original plan was for a road 30ft wide, but Mr Dawson thought it should be 36ft, requiring a retaining wall to be built on Mr Hart's land to reduce encrouchment onto his land.
The newly formed crossroads had a traffic island until March 1986, when improvement work was done to York Road, including the removel of No 1 Acland Terrace. The pavement by the Duke of York and Acland Terrace is the original level of the ground - the road was lowered in the 19th century to make it easier for horse drawn traffic.
Further down York Road, beyond the school can be found a short terrace of houses that includes Exeter's Islamic Mosque. Part of the terrace was destroyed during the blitz as recounted by Mr H Aggett for People Talking:
"Course the other scare at the time was when those big houses in York Road caught fire. There's only two or three now but there was a whole crescent of them which ran right up to St Sidwell's School. Well soldiers had been billeted in these houses and they had ammunition in there, small arms ammunition. There were a lot of incendiaries dropped and they caught these houses afire and this small arms ammunition was exploding but is sounded like machine gun fire. We'd been warned that after a raid there might be parachute troops dropped and at that time there was a scare that he was going to invade. Course they heard this small ammunition going off and everyone thought it was street fighting - they all thought Gerry was here, see."
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