Image of Jo Ruth's painted Ox disc

Granny Walker wishes you all a happy Chinese new year of the Ox!


Happy Chinese New Year of the Ox. The Year of the Ox will be a year of endurance. It’s no longer just about survival but about anchoring ourselves and concretizing our dreams, apparently.

Earlier this week, at our first storytelling event Susan Tuckett shared with us her memories of her Granny Mary Walker of the Groves, born 1880. Granny Walker was a regular in The Castle Howard Ox pub on Townsend Street. Susan told us;

… Granny Walker, she was tiny. She was as tubby as she was tall. She couldn’t wear shoes, she had to wear slippers, she used to wear these big pom poms slippers. She left school when she was 11 to look after the rest of the family. Went into service and met me Granddad and moved to Galtres Place. She baked every day, she had a big old blacking stove. She baked everything on that stove and the stove still shone. Whenever you went in she fed you. Apparently everybody went to Granny Walker in those days…if your children were ill, she’d know what to do; if kids were born at home,  she’d go and help. I adored her, she was always in the Castle Howard Ox. She was renowned in the Castle Howard Ox where she used to go for a milk stout. Everybody adored her. She was a proper Gran. She used to wear these metal rollers in her hair and always had a cross over pinny on. Her and my Mum always did the washing together because we shared a yard. They used to do the washing with a peggy tub and a dolly stick and a mangle and it took all day. I distinctly remember the smell of the dolly blue for the whites and the washing hanging up. In those days you were judged on the whiteness of your nappies and your net curtains…’

Run by ‘Big Bill’ in the 1930’s ‘The Castle Howard Ox’ pub has been part of The Groves for a considerable time. Indeed it can be seen on this 1852 map of York (thanks to Ros for sharing this online map link with us).


The Castle Howard Ox is now closed but the memories live on in the stories we hear and tell. To celebrate these, we’ve installed an Ox, created for us by York artist Jo Ruth, looking out on the old one, on this day Chinese New Year 2021. You can find Jo’s Ox near to The Castle Howard Ox in Townsend Street.

Ox installed in Townsend Street 2021
The ‘Ox’ installed in Townsend Street 2021

Look out over the coming weeks for similar as we put up a few more of the disc’s Jo Ruth created for us. Jo was invited to create some art to help us kick off our project. She told us;

Image of Jo Ruth

This is a wonderful city with a rich heritage and welcoming communities. As you wander around the city you can find historical markers celebrating local people, events and landmarks. Being a city wildlife artist I’ve always had one eye on the natural world and one on the works of art that spring up all around our cities’.

You can see more of Jo Ruth’s work on Instagram @joruth where you’ll be able to see more development of The Groves images, and on her website

3 thoughts on “Granny Walker wishes you all a happy Chinese new year of the Ox!

  1. Brilliant, there’s very little written about working class communities, for all the obvious reasons, so well done, everyone and every area has a history, this helps us to understand the dynamic of an area and it’s occupants, it breaks down social stereotypes and ignorance, again,
    well done!

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