The Willow

The following description is available as spoken word in the 'Listen' section.

Three York residents have shared their favourite memories of the Willow.

Graphic from a Willow promotional t-shirt.
Image courtesy of Jennie England.

Lizzie recalls her first visit to the Willow in 2012:

The Willow: it really didn’t give the best first impressions. I remember I heard about it before I went off to Uni, someone’s older brother was telling us about it. So when I arrived I said to all my housemates “We’ll have to go to the Willow, apparently it’s the best night out in York!”.

So we all got dressed up, trooped out at 11 when it opened, queued up, got our stamps, went up those very steep, dark, slightly dangerous stairs, and just ended up in this empty Chinese restaurant. Obviously we had to go to the toilet, you know how grim they were; there was a hole in the Ladies' and I’m pretty sure you could see the floor below.

I think all my housemates thought I’d gone absolutely mental, and I remember being so embarrassed that I’d bigged up this place so much. Fast forward a few months, got there a bit later and went with a few more people, and there was just nothing like it. Prawn crackers, cheesy music, it was a brilliant night out.

Shirley attended a hen party at the Willow in 1983:

We went for a meal, about half a dozen of us, but she’d invited along a friend who ran the bar in the village, and my mum, because they were all friends together. I can remember kicking off because she had invited my mother along.

When we got there, one of her friends was in a wheelchair, and she was carried up the stairs and her wheelchair was carried up the stairs. Lots of drinks, listening to the DJ. We were all on the lager. We had a Chinese meal sometime during. Lager before, Chinese meal, lager, ongoing lager. The DJ was good, playing all the sort of music you wanted. You get to know the DJ, asking for different songs you want.

We were all dancing and [the DJ] said he’d have a break. I guess he just put on a cassette or something in those days – we’re talking 1983. He just had a rest, we were all sitting round the table, and he heads towards our table. Everyone fancied him because he was good looking, and he came over to me. [My friends] were going “He’s coming to you! He’s coming to you!” I’m thinking “Great! He likes me out of everybody. Okay, alright!” He comes over: “Hello! May I have your mother’s phone number?”. I was gutted!

The Willow.
Courtesy of York Vision.

Matt used to sneak into the Willow as a teenager in 2007:

When we were seventeen we used to go down the alleyway down the side of the Willow down to the river, and there were some iron railings. We used to climb over the iron railings and shimmy along, and then climb back over them. I think there were spikes on the railings but we were young and we were able to climb them.