Letter - Wakefield’s ‘Gates history explained

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Sue Ward (Express, June 29) enquires as to the “gate” street names of Wakefield.

Only two of them are ancient - Westgate and Northgate. The road from the east being Warrengate or more anciently Wrengate, a name which may refer to it being the approach to a rabbit warren, as it was to the medieval Old Park, from which comes its continuation, Park Lodge Lane.

Warrengate only became part of a through major route when a new turnpike or toll road was built to Aberford and hence to York and the north, under an Act of Parliament of 1789.

Southgate was one of the many new streets laid out to develop Wakefield from about 1790, many of which had royal associations - King Street, Queen Street, George Street (extension into Kirkgate of Old Back Lane), Charlotte Street (wife of George III) and the new town of St John’s, followed by Wood Street, Burton Street (both named from their landowners) and Southgate.

A deed of 1809 refers to what had been the George and Dragon Inn estate being laid out to be called Southgate.

New streets have subsequently constantly been developed to provide facilities for growing housing, shopping, offices and business premises, and older streets and yards changing their names.

Kirkgate, incidentally, is thought to mean the road to and from the carr or lowlying land, near the river, rather than referring to the church.

The town itself seems to have been enlarged in early medieval times by the creation of the wide Westgate which broadens from the site of the Opera House, near which stood Wakefield’s only known York-like bar structure.

The others were mere farmyard gate-like facilities, to keep out straying animals rather than humans.

John Goodchild

Central Library

Drury Lane, Wakefield