Over the past two weekends, 16 venues threw open their doors in Pontefract and surrounding villages, to celebrate the 25th anniversary nationally of Heritage Open Days, and it’s the civic society’s 50th anniversary in Pontefract, which took full advantage across the period of the festival between 13th and 15th and 19th to 22nd September, supported by announcements from Pontefract’s Town Crier, John Turner, and with the added entertainment of the Liquorice Singers on Saturday 21st September..

Paul Cartwright, civic society chair, said “We are really pleased that we have the support of venue owners and their volunteers who made this a great series of events. Though the visitor numbers are still being counted, we had well over 700 visitors (including 60 from St Giles Academy), and that could rise to 1,000. Not only did we have visitors from across Yorkshire, but additionally visitors from Southampton, Hastings, and even Australia, were all amazed at what Pontefract has to offer, and also how great the town centre is presented”.

As well as our usual offering from St Giles Church, All Saints Church and St Michaels in Carleton, other churches have got on board, namely St Peter’s Church, Kirk Smeaton, and St Edward the Confessor Church, Brotherton.

Paul went onto say, “as well as historic buildings, it’s equally important to bring stories of places and people to life with talks, tours, music, and displays which include tours of Pontefract’s Market Place conservation area supported by an exhibition in the library, fuller tours of the town hall including the former court cells, Ackworth Quaker School, the liquorice fields, the castle, the Masonic Hall, Friarwood Valley Gardens, this week and next week to get you started. Finally, a new treat for 2019, was 30 Gillygate, which is being opened up to the public for the very time, next week, on Fri 20th to 22nd September; The building is a modest outwardly fronted former Victorian house and shop now an office set back in a yard. Inside the building has a very fine plaster ceiling, circa 1630, with a central diamond bordered by twining grape vines, which encloses oak leaves and acorns, whilst vine trails and bunches of grapes extend outwards from its corners”.

For local information visit the civic society website at www.pontefractcivicsociety.org.uk or call 01977 708658 for further information.

Guided tour of the Nelson Room in Pontefract Town Hall.
Guided tour of the Nelson Room in Pontefract Town Hall.

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