Wakefield Heritage Open Days: This is how you can explore the history of the city

It is time to delve into the history of our city as Heritage Open Days return.

By James Carney
Friday, 10th September 2021, 3:43 pm
Updated Friday, 10th September 2021, 3:44 pm

They’re a chance to look deeper into Wakefield’s past as buildings are opened, guided walks led, and new resources made available.

In previous years there would have been more of a focus on historical buildings throwing their door open to the public.

But those leading the events have had to be a little more creative this year.

Kevin Trickett

Wakefield Civic Society is one of the groups running events.

Its president Kevin Trickett said: “Almost since the beginning we have taken part in this celebration of national heritage by contributing walks, talks and other activities for local people and business to find out about Wakefield’s incredible heritage.

“Now we are starting to unlock what we want people to discover Wakefield and learn something new about its history.

“Have a walk around, have a look up, maybe join the civic society or the historical society.

Vicky Flintoff

“We think it is important people know what we have going in Wakefield because they will start to appreciate it and they will care if people want to come along pull things down or redevelop them in a unsympathetic way.

“The more eyes and ears we have looking at these buildings the better.”

For the society it isn’t just about looking into the past, it’s about safeguarding what we have the city now.

For this year’s Heritage Open Days the society has published four leaflets to help people discover by themselves.

The leaflets cover architect Charles Watson, who designed the Court House and the Mechanics’ Institution on Wood Street, Stanley Royd Hospital and much of St John’s Square and St John’s North, Monuments to Women, Historic Pubs of Northgate, and A City of Art and Sculpture.

Mr Trickett said: “Because we couldn’t plan too far in advance – thanks to Covid – when we started thinking about Heritage Open Days, we decided that some self-guided walks might be the safest way forward.”

The leaflets have been designed for us by society committee member Vicky Flintoff. The third leaflet features new illustrations of the pubs by Rhubarb Design House.

The society is working with Dream Time Creative for an event on Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12 at Unity House when they will unveil a blue plaque to anti-slavery campaigner Elizabeth Dawson.

Wakefield Historical Society is providing an hour of short talks about Westgate on Saturday, September 11 at Unity Hall Westgate, 1.30pm to 2.30pm.

There will also be a display by the society about the history of Westgate, and a bookstall.

The blue plaque will be unveiled on Sunday, September 12 at Unity Works, as part of a weekend of activities to promote an interest in the Wakefield Upper Westgate High Street HeritageAction Zone, a project jointly funded by Wakefield Council and Historic England.

Elizabeth Dawson and Sarah Parker Remond are two of three women whose achievements are being highlighted in a project backed by Wakefield Council, Historic England and The Arts Council - the other being Ann Hurst who was awarded her blue plaque as part of a series of International Women’s Day events in 2021.

Coun Michael Graham, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport at Wakefield Council, said: “It is great to see that, thanks to this research, Elizabeth and Sarah’s stories have been recognised and it means their places in the history of our district will be much more widely known from now on and in the years to come.

“It is right that these incredible women who contributed so much to the district’s history, are being honoured to reflect the huge contributions they made to society.”