Inside old Wakefield Crown Court as historic building comes back to life after 30 years of disuse

The president of Wakefield Civic society is excited about the renovation work currently being carried out at the city’s former Crown court - three decades after the building was closed.

By Tony Gardner
Monday, 20th June 2022, 2:25 pm
Wakefield Crown Court
Wakefield Crown Court

The 200 year-old building is currently being restored as part of a wider scheme to revive Wakefield’s Civic Quarter.

The building, on Wood Street, has been derelict since it closed in 1992 and is due to be reopened after being bought by Wakefield Council.

Leeds-based developers Rushbond plan to turn the building into a multi-use facility which could include performance spaces, a café, a restaurant as well as workshop and activity spaces.

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Kevin Trickett, President of Wakefield Civic Society, said: “I am really excited about the proposals for the building and the overall plans for the civic quarter.

“The area has been in the doldrums for a while since so many of the buildings in that area have closed. The new developments should increase footfall in the area and help local businesses.”

The court was built in 1810 in the neo-Greek style with and was extended in 1849 and 1850.

Mr Trickett, who posted images of the renovation work following a visit to the building, added: “My initial reaction was one of both surprise and dismay.

The old dock has barely changed since closure in 1992

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“Some great work is now going on restoring the building but it was sad to see the damage that had been done by previous developers.

“When the council took the building on it was in danger of collapse. The last time I was in there scaffolding was holding the roof up. It was good to see how the work is progressing.

“I think the council has to be congratulated and full marks also have to go to Rushbond.”

The courthouse's interior is preserved in time

In March last year Wakefield Council’s Cabinet agreed to the regeneration of Wakefield’s historic Civic Quarter into a new neighbourhood, with new homes and new public facilities.

Plans involve converting and re-purposing one of the most historic areas of Wakefield city centre as a place where people can live, work and socialise.

Over the last eight years, the council has acquired the former police station and the former Crown court buildings, and also demolished both the County Hall annexe and multi-storey car park, to kick-start the regeneration of the area.

Rushbond intends to convert landmark buildings alongside new-build homes, as part of a co-ordinated plan to create a vibrant residential community.

Plans include transforming the former police station into 33 one, two and three-bedroom apartments with communal gardens.

Nine new-build two-storey mews homes are also planned for Gills Yard.