Wakefield Family History Sharing


Wakefield Facts

snippets of information about the Wakefield area that may be of interest


Field Marshall Montgomery was awarded the Freedom of the City of Wakefield in 1947. Wood Street came to a standstill and Monty's car had great difficulty finding its way to the Town Hall. Bunting and Union flags were adorning every building. Even so, only a handful of police were on hand to keep order.
Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, opened the extension to Wakefield College of Art in 1891.  The first college opening in 1868 with profits from an exhibition.
Queen Elizabeth, now the late Queen Mother, visited Wakefield in 1947. A repeat visit was made in 1976 and also 1988 when a visit was made to Nostell Priory and a presentation of new colours was made to the Territorial Army.
Queen Elizabeth, then Princes Elizabeth visited Wakefield in 1949, with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh. Jubilee year, 1977, also saw another visit by Her Majesty
The Prince and Princes of Wales made a visit to Wakefield in 1985
The Princess Royal (the present Queen) visited Pinderfields Hospital in 1945.
Edward Allen Brotherton, became Lord Brotherton of Wakefield. Wakefield's first Baron.
Air Raids - Wakefield's first air raid was on 28th August 1940 and took place at Norton Street, Belle Vue. There were 4 injuries and 6 houses were destroyed. The worst air rade was on March 14th 1941 at approx. 11pm. Two large bombs fell on Thornes Road. One fell to the rear of no. 76 and one between 48 and 50. Sadly, 6 people lost their lives and 4 were seriously injured. The blast also damaged or destroyed houses numberd 51 - 232. Wakefield ARP members had displayed their firefighting equipment in 1938 and 1500 gallons of water were sprayed across the River Calder per minute. This was done to assure the public that the ARP could cope with any German bombing that may effect local mills.
The original Mulberry Bush, of 'Here we go around a mulberry bush' fame is inside Wakefield High Security Prison. The bush is now a well established tree.
The Grand Old Duke of York, another nursery rhyme, is from the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 when the Duke of York was killed.
In 1911 a giant bonfire was built to celebrate the coronation of King George V. Over 100 tons of wood were used.
In 1946 a group of Dutch children were brought to Wakefield to recouperate after the Allied Victory in Europe.
Wakefield Westgate Railway Station opened in 1867.
Richard Sutcliffe (of Fletcher Sutcliffe Wild), was the inventor of the first underground belt conveyor c.1905.
Wakefield Market Hall completed in 1964 houses 87 stalls and cost £289,000 to build. The old market built in 1851 and opened on August 29th was demolished in 1962. Wakefield has a long history of markets and one has existed in some form or another since the 1200's.
Queen Victoria's statue was removed from the Bull Ring to Clarence Park and in 1985 was re-instated in the Bull Ring.
In 1888 the church of All Saints became The Cathedral. Parts of the building date back as far as the 14th century. The church lost many of its fine artwork and statues during the Reformation, but in 1756 a householder in Northgate found 25 figures hidden it the loft. These were presumed to be from the then All Saints church. Somehow, the figures were destroyed.
Wakefield Cathedral spire and tower together are 247 ' high and are the tallest in Yorkshire.
The top of Wakefield Cathedral spire is level with the top step leading into St Michaels Church, East Ardsley (reported by a villager)
Clayton hospital owes its name to a successful 18th century man, Thomas Clayton, who had a dispensary in Northgate and eventually became a hospital. In 1879 a new 60 bed hospital was opened
Wakefield Town Hall is the result of a competition held in 1877. T E Collcutt was the winner and the present building was opened in October 1880. The County Hall was oficially opened in 1898.
The Crown Court, was completed in 1810.  The designed, also as a result of a competition.  Magistrates before the building of the Court House had to conduct court in Public Houses.  The building had to be extended in 1849 and again in the 1880's.  The building closed on 7th April 1973 after much protest from locals and members of Parliament.
The Regal cinema was opened in the 1930's. It could seat 1,700 in comfort. In 1976 after a brief closure the cinema was re-opened as the ABC with 3 smaller cinemas within. The cinema closed its doors again a few years ago and is awaiting a buyer.
The Corn Exchange (Westgate), was later to become the Grand Electric Cinema and was locally known as the 'Ranch'.
For many years the place everyone met their friends (before nearly all youngsters had cars) was 'under the bus station clock'.The bus station was knocked down in 2002, along with the clock and a modern bus station was built on an adjacent plot.
Sir Titus Salt of Saltaire Model Village fame, served his apprenticeship in King Street, Wakefield
Approx. 150 victims of cholera were buried in Vicar's Croft burial ground during the 1880's. The ground was cleared during the mid 20th century for redevelopment.

The West Riding Asylum was first occupied on 23rd November 1818, over one year behind schedule. The building was also over budget by £7,000 and cost £28,000. The seperate church, St Faith's, being added in 1861. 1867 the church was licensed for baptisms and marriages. A theatre was added in 1859 and could seat upto 700 people. In September of 1963 Enoch Powell made a visit. Charles Dickens is beleived to have visited the Asylum. Pinderfields, a subsidiary of the Asylum flourished and is indeed undergoing rebuilding work now (2003) but 1995 marked the closure of the Asylum or Stanley Royd as it was later to be known.

Fact : under the bowling green at Stanley Royd is a water reservoir that was used to feed the laundry, heating systems and the kitchens.

The Bull Ring was formerly known as Market Place.
The Market Cross which used to be on Cross Square had been built by public subscription was demolished in 1866.
Wakefield Subscription Library was established in the year 1786.
In 1765 Wakefield Cattle Market was established. The market grew to become the largest in the North of England during the 19th century. In the 1860's - 70's nearly 1/2 a million animals went through the gates. It had been sold in 1938 to Wakefield Corporation for £9,000 and finally closed in 1965.
Bishopgarth, home to the Bishops of Wakefield since its building in 1893 was home to William Walsham How until his death in 1897. In later years Bishopgarth, now owned by West Yorkshire Police, has been a training facility for Police Officers.
The Saw Inn, Westgate, as well as having lands which included :- gardens, cottages, garths + parcels of land stretching to Ings Lane (now Ings Road) also boasted a Pew in Wakefield Church (1792)
Serial killer John George Haigh lived, as a child, on Ledger Lane, Outwood. He also attended the Queen Elizabeth Grammer School.
Black Lace a local group, famous for 'Agadoo', hail from Wakefield, as does Sandra Stevens and Martin Lee members of the group 'Brotherhood of Man' who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976Jane MacDonald is also a Wakefield girl.
'Onward Christian Soldiers' was written by Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould who wrote the famous hymn while living in Horbury.
'The Lambeth Walk', 'The Sun Has Got It's Hat On', 'Run, Rabbit Run' and 'Leaning On The Lampost' were all written by Reginald Moxon Armitage from Lofthouse
In 1960 Wakefield Trinity won the Challenge Cup and it was paraded high through the town for all to see.
Wakefield forms one point of the Rhubarb Triangle, with Morley and the South part of Leeds forming the other two.  Trains from Lofthouse, East Ardsley, Stanley and Morley from the late 1870's to the mid twentieth century, took between 80-100 tons each trip and sometimes two trips were needed to keep Covent Garden supplied. 
Wakefield gained it's nickname 'Merry Wakefield' as during the 19th century very large amounts of alcohol were drunk .
Wakefield's Theatre Royal and Opera House built in 1894 has been in the latter part of the 20th century a picture house and bingo hall but in 1979 the theatre became a grade II listed building and was given a new lease of life.  The restored building was re-opened in 1986.
Joanne Harris of 'Chocolat' fame was a pupil at Wakefield Girls High School. Helen Fielding of 'Bridget Jone's' Diary.  Barbara Hepworth, the sculptress was born in WakeyOther writers include : George Gissing and David Storey (This Sporting Life)
Charles Waterton, the Pioneering naturalist lived at Walton Hall
Rev. Thomas Kilby, vicar of St Johns, was a very find artist and many prints of his pictures depicting local life and buildings are available today.
In 1899 Wakefield City Police Force had 49 serving men.
The Elephant and Castle public house was the scene of public floggings during the 1800's
John Frederick Herring snr. drove a stagecoach between Wakefield and Lincoln for a living during the early part of the 19th century was an artist of some stature and his pinting 'The Halt' to be sold by Sotherby's is expected to reach £500,000.
'This Sporting Life', was filmed in Wakefield and many of the scenes were filmed at the Belle Vue Rugby Ground Richard Harris portrayed a rugby player.  The Fox and Grapes, Stanley Road was home to Harris
when he was filming.




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Wakefield Family History Sharing