Celebrate the facinating history of Westgate with a guided walk

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Free guided walks are to take place in the Westgate area of Wakefield this May, giving people the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history of the area.

The walks are part of Wakefield Civic Society’s contribution to the Upper Westgate High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme, led by Wakefield Council and Historic England.

As part of the programme, cultural events will be taking place over the next two years, inspired by Upper Westgate.

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It's a conservation area with many listed buildings with a least one, the Black Swan at 6 Silver Street dating to the 17th century. It was constructed around 1620, probably as a house, and there has been an inn on the site since 1698.

How fantastic is this old photo of Westgate, taken around 1920? Look at the early cars and vans on the road.How fantastic is this old photo of Westgate, taken around 1920? Look at the early cars and vans on the road.
How fantastic is this old photo of Westgate, taken around 1920? Look at the early cars and vans on the road.

The current building has shops fronting onto Silver Street and a pub to the rear.

Mark Lynam, Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Growth at Wakefield Council, said: “Westgate has a varied history and it is important to recognise the fascinating people and places that have contributed to its story, as we preserve and protect these buildings for future generations.”

Kevin Trickett MBE, president of Wakefield Civic Society, will be leading free guided walks along upper Westgate on May 3, 4, 8, 17, 18 and 22.

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Places for each walk are limited and must be booked in advance at Discover Westgate – Guided Walks in May Tickets, Multiple Dates | EventbriteKevin has also written a book, 'Wakefield Westgate', to guide visitors to its fascinating history and buildings, featuring a mix of old photographs and specially commissioned artworks.

It gives an overview of how the street developed over time and gives short histories of many of the buildings.

He said: “I have lived in and around Wakefield all of my life.

"I thought I knew about Westgate but in undertaking research for the book and working with colleagues at Wakefield Historical Society, I have learned so much that I didn’t know before.

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"Westgate has for many long been associated with Wakefield’s night-time economy but it has also been a financial centre, a trading area and a residential street.

"As I explain in the book, Westgate has an intriguing history as one of the city’s most important and ancient streets”.

The book and the walks build on some of the research already undertaken by Wakefield Historical Society as part of the project and the book should appeal to anyone who has an interest in local history.

The printing of the book has been funded by the Upper Westgate Heritage Action Zone scheme to further engage the public in the fascinating history of Westgate and its historic yards.

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All those attending the walk will receive a complimentary copy of the book.

Further cultural and community engagement activities are planned over the remaining two years of the scheme, based around the hidden stories of Westgate.

The £3.8m four-year HAZ partnership scheme offers grants to owners of historic buildings along the street to repair and revitalise their buildings. Work has already started on a number of buildings and the scheme has seen improvements made to four of the historic yards leading off Westgate.

Nicky Brown, from Historic England, said: “This is an interesting way to engage local people in the changes taking place around the High Street Heritage Action Zone in Wakefield.

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"The combination of culture and heritage help to celebrate the area’s local character and rich history, while unlocking the potential of the high street.”

The Upper Westgate High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme (HSHAZ), is part of a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England.

It’s designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them.