Work begins to restore second historic building on Westgate

Work is underway to restore a second historic building on Westgate as part of a major scheme by Wakefield Council.

By Leanne Clarke
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 10:06 am

A former drapers’ shop, at 22 Silver Street, is to being restored as part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) programme to ensure the city’s heritage can be enjoyed for generations to come.

The HAZ scheme, funded by Wakefield Council and Historic England, is renovating Upper Westgate’s historic buildings and features, and has already seen the start of work to restore the Woolpacks Inn, along with the reinstating of traditional cobbles to Carter Street and Cheapside and the introduction of up lighting to Thompsons Yard, and the lane leading to Barstow Square.

Coun Darren Byford, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Skills and Property, said: “It’s great that work has started on this historic building.

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Coun Darren Byford (left) with Andy Turner, joint-owner of 22 Silver Street.

"We want everyone to be able to enjoy and appreciate the architecture and the history of Upper Westgate and the former drapers’ shop, which served generations of customers. It continues to house business premises today and is an important part of our district’s heritage.”

Nicky Brown, from Historic England, said: “It’s fantastic that work has started to restore this historic building in an area that is rich in heritage and significance for local people.

“The aim of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone is to help unlock the potential in Wakefield town centre through repair and improvement work, making it more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.”

The works will include the removal of the modern aluminium shop front with a replacement that is a more traditional wooden frontage. Some of the cement render will be removed and replaced by a traditional lime render to allow the building to dry out and breath.

Windows on the upper floors will be refurbished and the original 18th century brickwork will be repaired and repointed with a traditional mortar to stop damp and prevent further damage to the original bricks.

Contractors have been trained in the use of mixing and applying traditional hot lime mortars.

The three storey Silver Street building stood at the corner of the old marketplace, beside the Corn Market. The earliest identified occupant was William Beatson, a mercer and leading townsman who lived there with his family from about 1740.

It became a drapers’ shopand in the 1830s was described as extending halfway into the street, ‘leaving only just room for one carriage to pass.’

The property continued to be occupied by a series of substantial Wakefield drapers, with drapery, clothes and dressmaking businesses continuing there well into the 20th century.

Since then, it has been home to a range of businesses, including a fast-food restaurant, and tanning studio. The upper floors of the building are today used by recruitment agency, with a newsagent on the ground floor.