Concerns over future of town's heritage

Town gather to discuss the future of Pontefract's old general dispensary and medieval hermitage

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 11:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 12:58 pm
The current state of the old general dispensary building

A meeting held by Pontefract Heritage Partnership took place at St Giles Community Centre on Thursday 13th June.

The purpose of the meeting was to generate interest in the future of Pontefract’s former general dispensary building and hermitage and to discuss their current condition.

The dispensary building, situated on Southgate, was built in 1880. It has been derelict since 2011, the year the majority of Pontefract's former hospital was demolished. Due to the derelict state of the building, it has become a target for squatters and vandals.

Southgate general dispensary building

Pontefract Heritage Partnership hope to reclaim the building, refurbish it and open it up to the public, but it is currently owned by the NHS.

“We want to take the building back into community ownership." Said Colin White, chair of Pontefract Heritage Partnership

"The Mid Yorkshire Trust would be willing to give it to us but it’s a liability. It’s in such poor condition due to vandalism and neglect, it needs a full repair.”

Colin has been heavily involved with the project. Regarding the meeting on Thursday, he said “It was really well attended. We spoke about the steps we need to take as a community to reclaim the building and ways we can tackle potential difficulties.

Grounds of old hospital build

“We discussed the poor condition of the building and how development should have gone hand in hand with the rest of the hospital site.

“The people of Pontefract are so positive about getting the campaign off the ground.

“We needed that big community push to take action.”

Colin said “The dispensary represents the medical history in Pontefract and it’s just sitting there deteriorating.

Vandals have wreaked havoc on the building over the last 8 years

“Not to mention the medieval hermitage below, possibly the richest part of our town’s history. It’s a grade 1 listed relic.”

The water levels have risen in the basement of the building, meaning the hermitage is currently flooded. The whole building would cost at least £2 million to restore, funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund included.

Chris Short, a water quality consultant, who has been involved with the water problem in the hermitage attended the meeting. He says the rising water levels were caused by the new hospital being built on the site.

The Pontefract Heritage Partnership are currently putting together a campaign plan as a first cause of action.