Castleford champion Wendy Rayner - a no-nonsense Yorkshirewoman who left a lasting legacy

Wendy Rayner
Wendy Rayner

Anyone seeking the definition of a no-nonsense Yorkshirewoman need have looked no farther than Wendy Rayner.

The Castleford community campaigner, who died on April 23 at the age of 75, told it as she saw it – and by doing so she made a big impression and left a lasting legacy.

As well as having a street named after her on the Navigation Point housing development, Wendy’s most enduring achievement is the elegant footbridge across the River Aire, the view of which she could enjoy from her home on Mill Lane.

Initial plans for the bridge, part of the ‘Castleford Project’ which became a Channel 4 TV series Kevin McCloud’s Big Town Plan, were for a basic functional concrete structure.

However, in a formidable partnership with Castleford Heritage Trust’s Alison Drake, Wendy told the architects in no uncertain terms it was not good enough and kept the pressure on them until they came up with a more fitting design.

Wendy, who lived in the Lock Lane area of Castleford all her life, became involved in community work in 2000, not long after she had retired from her work as a cook.

Although a residents’ campaign against building houses on an allotment site came to nought, it led to the formation of Lock Lane Residents Group, which Wendy chaired for many years while husband Rod acted as secretary.

Among the group’s achievements were traffic calming on Lock Lane, improvements to a children’s playground, the creation of a riverside garden, a memorial to local people who died in the First World War and the launch of a popular maypole dancing team.

Wendy was also a prominent member of Castleford Heritage Trust (CHT) when it made the decision to buy Queen’s Mill.

CHT chairwoman Alison Drake said: “Wendy was a real champion for Castleford and she achieved a great deal for the town and its people.

“She was a straight talker, she could be blunt at times but she always stood up for what she believed was right.

“We could have been fobbed off with an ugly concrete bridge but Wendy and I said ‘no’ and held out for something better.

“She was loyal, you could trust her and she was a great friend to have.”

Wendy’s funeral takes place on Friday, May 10, at Pontefract Crematorium, at 11.40am.