Wakefield: Wikis


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Coordinates: 53°40′48″N 1°29′31″W / 53.6801°N 1.4920°W / 53.6801; -1.4920

Wakefield 1.jpg
A view of Wakefield
Wakefield is located in West Yorkshire

 Wakefield shown within West Yorkshire
Population 76,886 
OS grid reference SE335205
Metropolitan borough City of Wakefield
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district WF1,WF2
Dialling code 01924
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Wakefield
List of places: UK • England • Yorkshire

Wakefield is the main settlement and administrative centre of the City of Wakefield, a metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, England. Located by the River Calder on the eastern edge of the Pennines, the urban area is 2,062 hectares (5,100 acres) and had a population of 76,886 in 2001.[1]

Wakefield was dubbed the "Merrie City" in the Middle Ages[2] and in 1538 John Leland described it as, "a very quick market town and meately large; well served of fish and flesh both from sea and by rivers ... so that all vitaile is very good and chepe there. A right honest man shall fare well for 2d. a meal. ... There be plenti of se coal in the quarters about Wakefield".[3]

The site of a battle during the Wars of the Roses and a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War, Wakefield developed in spite of setbacks to become an important market town and centre for wool exploiting its position on the River Calder to become an inland port.

During the 18th century Wakefield continued to develop through trade in corn, coal mining and textiles and in 1888 its parish church, with Saxon origins, acquired cathedral status. The county town became seat of the West Riding County Council in 1889 and the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Council in 1974.




The name "Wakefield" may derive from "Waca's field" – the open land belonging to someone named "Waca" or could have evolved from the Old English word wacu, meaning "a watch or wake", and feld, an open field in which a wake or festival was held.[4][5] In the Domesday Book of 1086, it was written Wachefeld and also as Wachefelt.

Early history

Flint and stone tools and later bronze and iron implements have been found at Lee Moor and Lupset in the Wakefield area showing evidence for human activity since prehistoric times.[6] This part of Yorkshire was home to the Brigantes until the Roman occupation in 43 AD. A Roman road from Pontefract passing Streethouse, Heath Common, Ossett Street Side, Kirklees and on to Manchester crossed the River Calder by a ford at Wakefield near the site of Wakefield Bridge.[7] Wakefield was probably settled by the Angles in the 5th or 6th century and after 867 the area was controlled by the Vikings who divided the area into wapentakes. Wakefield was part of the Wapentake of Agbrigg. The settlement grew up near a crossing place on the River Calder around three roads, Westgate, Northgate and Kirkgate.[8] "Gate" derives from Old Norse gata meaning road[9] and kirk, from kirkja indicates there was a church.[10]

Before 1066 the manor of Wakefield belonged to Edward the Confessor and it passed to William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings.[11] After the Conquest Wakefield was a victim of the Harrying of the north in 1069, William the Conqueror's revenge for resistance to Norman rule by the local population. It was recorded as Wachfeld in the Domesday Book of 1086, covering a much greater area than present day Wakefield, much of which was described as "waste".[12] There were two churches, one in Wakefield and one in Sandal.[13] The Manor of Wakefield, was granted by the crown to William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey whose descendants, the Earls Warenne, inherited it when he died in 1088.[14] In 1203 William, Earl Warenne received a grant to have a market in Wakefield. Wakefield and its environs formed the caput of an extensive baronial holding by the Warennes that extended to Cheshire and Lancashire. The Warennes, and their feudal sublords, continued to hold the area until the 14th century, when it passed to Warenne heirs.[15] Norman tenants holding land in the region included the Lyvet (Levett) family at Lupset.[16]

Duke of York Memorial

In 1100 the Saxon church was rebuilt in stone in the Norman style and was continually enlarged until 1315 when the central tower collapsed. By 1420 the church was again rebuilt and was extended between 1458 and 1475. The building of Sandal Castle began early in the 12th century and it became the stronghold of the manor.[17] Another castle was built at Lawe Hill on the north side of the Calder but was abandoned.[18][19] In 1204 King John granted the rights for a fair to be held at the feast of All Saints, 1 November, and in 1258 Henry III granted another fair to be held on the feast of St. John the Baptist, 24 June. The market was situated close to the Bull Ring.[18] The townsfolk of Wakefield amused themselves in games and sports earning the title "Merrie Wakefield", the chief sport in the 14th century was archery and the butts in Wakefield were at the Ings, near the river.[20]

In 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, the Duke of York was killed on 30 December 1460 in the Battle of Wakefield near Sandal Castle. At the time of the Civil War Wakefield was a Royalist stronghold, an attack led by Sir Thomas Fairfax on 20 May 1643 captured the town for the Parliamentarians. Over 1500 troops were taken prisoner along with the Royalist commander, Lieutenant-General Goring.[21]

In medieval times Wakefield became a port on the River Calder and centre for the woollen and tanning trades. In 1699 an Act of Parliament was passed creating the Aire and Calder Navigation which provided Wakefield with access to the North Sea.[22] The first Registry of Deeds in the country opened in 1704 and in 1765 Wakefield’s cattle market was established and became the one of largest in the north. The town was a centre for cloth dealing with its own piece hall, the Tammy Hall built in 1766.[3] In the late 1700s Georgian town houses were built around St John's Church which was built in 1795.[22][23]

Later history

Wakefield Westgate c. 1900

At the start of 19th century Wakefield was already a wealthy market town and inland port trading in wool and corn.[24] The Aire and Calder and Calder and Hebble Navigations and the Barnsley Canal were instrumental in the development of Wakefield as an important market for corn from Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire supplying the growing population in the West Riding. The Corn Exchange opened in Westgate in 1838.[25] The market developed in the streets around the Bull Ring and the Cattle Market between George Street and Ings Road grew to be one of the biggest in the country.[26] Road transport using turnpiked roads was also important. Regular mail coaches departed to Leeds, London, Manchester, York and Sheffield and the 'Strafford Arms' was an important coaching inn.[27] The railways arrived in Wakefield in 1840 when Kirkgate Station was built on the Manchester to Leeds line.

When cloth dealing declined wool spinning mills using steam power were built by the river. There was a glass works in Calder Vale Road, several breweries including Melbourne's and Beverley's Eagle Brewery, engineering works with strong links to the mining industry, soapworks and brickyards in Eastmoor giving the town a diverse economy.[28][29] On the outskirts of the town coal had been dug since the 15th century and 300 adult males were employed in the town's coal pits in 1831.[3] During the 19th century more mines were sunk so that there were 46 in Wakefield and the surrounding area by 1869.[29][30] The National Coal Board eventually became Wakefield's largest employer with Manor Colliery on Cross Lane and Park Hill colliery at Eastmoor surviving until 1982.[31]

During the 19th century Wakefield became the administrative centre for the West Riding and much of what is familiar today in Wakefield was built at that time.[32] The court house was built in 1810, the first civic building to be constructed in Wood Street.[33] The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum was built at Stanley Royd, just outside the town on Aberford Road in 1816 and the old House of Correction of 1595 was rebuilt as Wakefield Prison in 1847.[34] Wakefield Union Workhouse[35] was built on Park Lodge Lane, Eastmoor in 1853 and Clayton Hospital was begun in 1854 after a donation from Alderman Thomas Clayton.[32] Up to 1837 Wakefield relied on wells and springs for its water supply, supply from the River Calder was polluted, and various schemes were unsuccessful until reservoirs on the Rishworth Moors and a service reservoir at Ardsley were built providing clean water from 1888.[36] On 2 June 1906 Andrew Carnegie opened the library on Drury Lane which had been built with a grant of £8,000 from the Carnegie Trust.[37]

There are seven ex-council estates in Wakefield which the council started to build after World War I, the oldest, Portobello, the largest, Lupset in the west, Flanshaw, Plumpton, Peacock, Eastmoor and Kettlethorpe which were transferred to registered social landlord Wakefield and District Housing, WDH, in 2005.[38] The outlying villages of Sandal Magna, Belle Vue and Agbrigg became suburbs of Wakefield.

The glass and textile industries closed in the 1970s and 1980s. During Margaret Thatcher's contraction of the coal industry six pits within a two mile radius of the city centre closed between 1979 and 1983. At the time of the 1984 miners' strike there were 15 pits in the district and demonstrations of support took place in the city. West Yorkshire County Council, based in Wakefield was abolished in 1974.


Wakefield County Hall

Wakefield was anciently a market and parish town in the Agbrigg Division of the wapentake of Agbrigg and Morley in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It became a parliamentary borough with one Member of Parliament by the Reform Act 1832. In 1836 the Wakefield Union was formed following the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 with an elected Board of Guardians.[39] The town was incorporated as a municipal borough with elected councillors in 1848 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.[40] Wakefield had been the de facto seat of regional government in Yorkshire for two centuries and became the county headquarters of the new West Riding County Council created by the Local Government Act of 1888.[41] After the elevation of Wakefield to diocese in 1888, Wakefield Council immediately sought city status and this was granted in July 1888.[42] Wakefield was made a county borough in 1913.[43] In 1974, under the terms of the Local Government Act 1972, the county borough of Wakefield became defunct as it merged with surrounding authorities to become the City of Wakefield district. Today the city is the headquarters of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, Local Government Yorkshire and Humber and the West Yorkshire Police.[44] [45]

Wakefield is covered by five electoral wards, Wakefield East, Wakefield North, Wakefield Rural, Wakefield South and Wakefield West, of the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. Each ward elects three councillors to the 63-member metropolitan district council, Wakefield's local authority. As of 2009, nine ward councillors are members of the Conservative Party and six ward councillors are members of the Labour Party who control the council.[46]

Wakefield's MP is Mary Creagh who has represented the parliamentary seat for Wakefield for the Labour Party since the 2005 General Election. Since 10  June 2009 she has been an Assistant Whip.[47]


Wakefield is 9 miles (14 km) southeast of Leeds and 28 miles (45 km) southwest of York on the eastern edge of the Pennines in the lower Calder Valley. The city centre is sited on a low hill on the north bank of the River Calder close to a crossing place where it is spanned by a 14th-century, nine arched, stone bridge and a reinforced concrete bridge built in 1929–1930.[48][49] It is at the junction of major north-south routes to Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster and west-east routes to Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Pontefract.

It is within the area of the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire & Yorkshire Coalfield and lies on coal measures and sandstones of the Carboniferous era.[50]

Wakefield includes the former outlying villages of Alverthorpe, Thornes, Sandal, Agbrigg, Lupset, Kettlethorpe, Newton Hill and Flanshaw.

Climate data for Wakefield
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 6.7
Average low °C (°F) 2.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 86.6
Source: [51] 2009-11-22

Neighbouring towns and places


Wakefield Compared in 2008
2008 UK Population Estimates[52] Wakefield Yorkshire and the Humber England
Total population 322,300 5,213,200 51,446,200
White 95.7% 90.6% 88.2%
Asian 2.4% 5.7% 5.7%
Black 0.5% 1.3% 2.8%

In 2001 the Wakefield urban area had a population of 76,886[53] comprising 37,477 males and 39,409 females.[53] Also at the time of the 2001 UK census, the City of Wakefield had a total population of 315,172 of whom 161,962 were female and 153,210 were male. Of the 132,212 households in Wakefield, 39.56% were married couples living together, 28.32% were one-person households, 9.38% were co-habiting couples and 9.71% were lone parents. The figures for lone parent households were slightly above the national average of 9.5%, and the percentage of married couples was above the national average of 36.5%; the proportion of one person households was below the national average of 30.1%.[54]

The population density was 9.31 inhabitants per square kilometre (24.1/sq mi). Of those aged 16–74 in Wakefield, 39.14% had no academic qualifications, much higher than 28.9% in all of England. Of Wakefield’s residents, 2.53% were born outside the United Kingdom, significantly lower than the national average of 9.2%. The largest minority group was recorded as Asian, at 1.41% of the population.

The number of theft-from-a-vehicle offences and theft of a vehicle per 1,000 of the population was 7.9 and 3.9 compared to the English national average of 6.3 and 2.3 respectively.[55] The number of sexual offences was 0.9, in line with the national average.[55] The national average of violence against another person was 16.7 compared to the Wakefield average of 15.[55] The figures for crime statistics were all recorded during the 2008–09 financial year.

Population change

Population growth in Wakefield from 1881–1961
Year 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961
Population 22,173 23,315 24,107 43,588 52,891 59,122 56,963 60,371 61,268

Wakefield RSD 1881 - 1911[56] Wakefield MB/CB 1921 - 1961[57]


Wakefield Compared
2001 UK Census Wakefield WY Urban Area England
Population (16-74) 55,789 1,072,276 35,532,091
Full time employment 39.7% 39.5% 40.8%
Part time employment 12.4% 12.1% 11.8%
Self employed 6.7% 6.3% 8.3%
Unemployed 4.1% 3.8% 3.3%
Retired 14.1% 12.8% 13.5%
Source: Office for National Statistics[58]

The economy of Wakerfield changed in the last quarter of the twentieth century, coal mines closed and other traditional manufacturing industries declined contributing to high rates of unemployment. In terms of deprivation, Wakefield, as a whole, is ranked 54th out of 354 Local Authority Districts (1 being the worst). Employment grew by 12% between 1998 and 2003 as the economy recovered and enjoyed growth as the economic base of the district was diversified. Growth has been supported by inward investment from European and United Kingdom government funding which has impacted on the regeneration of the area. Manufacturing still remains an important employment sector although the decline is projected to continue whilst distribution and the service industries are now among the main employers.[59]

At the time of the 2001 Census, there were 33,521 people in employment who were resident within Wakefield. Of these, 20.74% worked in the wholesale and retail trade, including repair of motor vehicles; 14.42% worked within manufacturing industry; 11% worked within the health and social work sector and 6.49% were employed in the transport, storage and communication industries.[60] Wakefield is a member of the Leeds City Region Partnership, a sub-regional economic development partnership covering an area of the historic county of Yorkshire.[61]


There are number of ongoing regeneration projects in Wakefield including the Trinity Walk development to the north east of the city centre, replacing the market hall and containing retail units and a library.[62] Work began in autumn 2007 but was halted in 2009 and is scheduled to restart in 2010.[63] The cross roads at the Bull Ring in the city centre has been redesigned and the Ridings Shopping Mall refurbished.[64] Westgate Station goods yard and land on Westgate is being developed to create retail and commercial space including new council offices and a hotel.[65] Developments by the river and canal, the "Wakefield Waterfront", include the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Navigation Warehouse as well as office, retail, restaurant and cafe units. The development also includes the "Hepworth Gallery", named in honour of local artist and sculptor, Barbara Hepworth. Flats and offices are also being built at Chantry Waters, on an island between the river and canal.[66]


Chantry Bridge

The most prominent landmark in Wakefield is Wakefield Cathedral, which has the tallest cathedral spire in Yorkshire. Other landmarks include the Civic Quarter on Wood Street which includes the Neoclassical Wakefield Crown Court of 1810, the Town Hall built in 1880 and the Queen Anne Style County Hall of 1898. St Johns Church and Square date from the Georgian period.

The old Wakefield Bridge with its Chantry Chapel and Sandal Castle are ancient Monuments along with Lawe Hill in Clarence Park.[67] Another prominent structure is the 95 arch railway viaduct, constructed of 800,000,000 bricks in the 1860s on the Doncaster to Leeds railway line. At its northern end is a bridge with an 80 foot span over Westgate and at it's southern end a 163 feet iron bridge crossing the River Calder.[68]


The brick built 95 arch viaduct in Wakefield

Wakefield has good access to the motorway system, the intersection of the M1 and M62 motorways, junctions 42/29, is to the north west and the M1 to the west is accessed at junctions 39, 40 and 41. The A1(M) is to the east of the district. Wakefield is crossed by the A61, A638, and A642 roads and is the starting point of the A636 and A650 roads.

The Council is working with Metro, the other four West Yorkshire district councils and transport operators to provide an integrated transport system for the district through the implementation of the West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan.[69] A network of local buses, coordinated by West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (WYPTE) and departing from the bus station in the town centre, serves Wakefield and district. Buses are operated by Arriva, B L Travel, Poppletons, Stagecoach Yorkshire and National Express.[70]

Wakefield Kirkgate was opened by the Manchester and Leeds Railway in 1840, followed by Wakefield Westgate in 1867. Wakefield Westgate railway station is on the Doncaster to Leeds line with connections to the East Coast Mainline, trains to Leeds, Doncaster, and stations towards London King's Cross. CrossCountry trains go to Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, Birmingham and the South West. East Midlands Trains also run trains via Sheffield, Leicester to St Pancras International. Wakefield Westgate is on the Wakefield Line of the MetroTrain network.[71]

Wakefield Kirkgate is unmanned and operated by Northern Rail who operate trains to Barnsley, Meadowhall, Sheffield, Normanton, Pontefract, Knottingley, Leeds, Castleford and Nottingham.[72] The station serves the Hallam Line, Huddersfield Line and the Pontefract Line of the MetroTrain network.

The nearest airport is Leeds Bradford International Airport, 19 miles to the north of the city at Yeadon.

The Aire and Calder Navigation is 33 miles from Leeds to Goole, and 7.5 miles from Wakefield to Castleford and was created by Act of Parliament in 1699, it was opened to Leeds in 1704 and to Wakefield in 1706 enabling craft carrying 100 tons to reach Wakefield from the Humber.[3] It is still used by a small amount of commercial traffic and leisure craft.[73] The Calder and Hebble Navigation was created by Act of Parliament in 1758 with the intention of making the Calder navigable to Sowerby Bridge. The route was originally surveyed by John Smeaton remains open and is used by leisure craft.[74] The Barnsley Canal, a broad canal with 20 locks, opened in 1799 connecting Barnsley to the Aire and Calder Navigation at Wakefield and was abandoned in 1953.[75]


The original Queen Elizabeth Grammar School building on Brook Street.

Wakefield's oldest surviving school is Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, QEGS Wakefield, a boys' only school established in 1591 by Queen Elizabeth I by Royal Charter. The original building in Brook Street is now known as the 'Elizabethan Gallery'. QEGS moved to Northgate in 1854.[18] The school was administered by the Governors of Wakefield Charities who opened Wakefield Girls High School, WGHS on Wentworth Street in 1878. [76] These two schools today are independent schools. National schools were opened by the Church of England including St Mary's in the 1840s and St John's in 1861.[77] St Austin's R.C. School opened about 1838.[78] A Methodist School was opened in Thornhill Street in 1846.[79] Pinders Primary School, originally Eastmoor School is the only school opened as a result of the Education Act 1870 which remains open today.[80]

Wakefield College has its origins in the School of Art and Craft of 1868[81] and today is the major provider of 6th form and further education in the area, with around 3,000 full-time and 10,000 part-time students,[82] and campuses in the city and surrounding towns. In 2007 Wakefield City Council and Wakefield College announced plans to establish a University Centre of Wakefield but a bid for funding failed in 2009.[83][84] Other schools with sixth forms include: QEGS, Wakefield Girls High School, Silcoates, and Cathedral High School, which is now a Performing Arts College for ages 11 to 18.[85]


Religion in Wakefield 2001[86]
UK Census 2001 Wakefield Yorkshire England
Christian 78.21% 73.07% 71.74%
No religion 11.74% 14.09% 14.59%
Muslim 1.14% 3.81% 3.1%
Buddhist 0.10% 0.14% 0.28%
Hindu 0.20% 0.32% 1.11%
Jewish 0.04% 0.23% 0.52%
Sikh 0.08% 0.38% 0.67%
Other religions 0.18% 0.19% 0.29%
Religion not stated 7.57% 7.77% 7.69%

Wakefield's oldest church is All Saints, now Wakefield Cathedral, a 14th century parish church built on the site of earlier Saxon and Norman churches, restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 19th century and raised to cathedral status in 1888. The first bishop of Wakefield was William Walsham How. In 1356 a Chantry Chapel on Wakefield bridge was built originally in wood, and later in stone. This chapel is one of four built in Wakefield and the oldest and most ornate of the four surviving in England.[18][87] Wakefield is also known for the Wakefield Cycle, a collection of 32 mystery plays, dating from the 14th century, which were performed as part of the summertime religious festival of Corpus Christi and revived in recent times.[88]

St John's Church was built in 1795 in the Georgian style. Three new Anglican Waterloo churches, partly financed by the "Million Fund" were built as chapels of ease in the surrounding districts and were St Peter at Stanley in 1824, St Paul at Alverthorpe in 1825 and St James at Thornes in 1831.[89][90] Holy Trinity in George Street was built in 1838-9.[91] St Andrew's Church opened on Peterson Road in 1846 and St Mary's Church on Charles Street was consecrated in 1864. St Michael's was consecrated in 1861.[92] In the nineteenth century Wesleyan, Primitive and Independent Methodist chapels were opened and the Baptists opened a chapel in George Street in 1844.[93][94]

Today Wakefield is in the Church of England diocese of Wakefield which is mainly in West Yorkshire and partly in South Yorkshire with five parishes in North Yorkshire.[95] The Rt. Revd. Stephen Platten is the 12th Bishop of Wakefield. There are sixteen Church of England churches in the Wakefield deanery. Wakefield is in the Roman Catholic parish of St. Martin de Porres and incorporates the churches of St. Austin's, Wentworth Terrace opened in 1828 and English Martyrs formed in 1932 on Dewsbury Road, Lupset,[96] it is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds.[97] Agbrigg Muslim Association have a Zakaria Masjid Mosque in Wakefield.[98]


The ruins of Sandal Castle

The Theatre Royal and Opera House on Westgate, designed by architect Frank Matcham opened in 1894.[99] There is a museum in the city centre and the new Barbara Hepworth gallery on the city's waterfront is due to open in 2011. The ruins of Sandal Castle are open to the public and there is a visitor centre.

Wakefield Library in Balne Lane manages a regional collection of over 500,000 items of music and 90,000 copies of plays for Yorkshire Libraries & Information (YLI).[100] West Riding Registry of Deeds on Newstead Road is the headquarters of the West Yorkshire Archive Service housing records from the former West Riding and West Yorkshire counties as well as being the record office for the Wakefield Metropolitan District.[101]

Wakefield's three contiguous parks have a history dating back to 1893 when Clarence Park opened on land near Lawe Hill, the adjacent Holmefield Estate was acquired in 1919 followed by Thornes House in 1914 making a large park to the south west of the city.[102] A Music Festival for local bands is held annually in Clarence Park.[103]

Two children's nursery rhymes with Wakefield connections are "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" which may have been sung by women inmates at Wakefield prison.[104] and "The Grand Old Duke of York" which may allude to the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, referring to Richard Plantagenet, the 3rd Duke of York.[105]

Wakefield is known as the capital of the Rhubarb Triangle, an area notable for growing early forced rhubarb. In July 2005 a statue was erected to celebrate this facet of Wakefield which also hosts an annual Rhubarb Festival.[106][107][108]

Wakefield has two newspapers, the The Wakefield Express[109] and the Wakefield Guardian,[110] and a radio station, Ridings FM.[111]

The National Coal Mining Museum for England (an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage), the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Nostell Priory[112] are within the metropolitan area as is Walton Hall, a Georgian mansion set in what was the world's first nature reserve, created by the explorer Charles Waterton, now a hotel.


Wakefield Trinity Wildcats is a rugby league club currently playing in the Super League division. The club, founded in 1873, was one of the initial founders of the Northern Union after the split from the Rugby Football Union in 1895. The club plays at Belle Vue.[113] Several local teams play in different leagues of the British Amateur Rugby League Association, BARLA. They include Wakefield City, Westgate Wolves, Crigglestone All Blacks, Kettlethorpe and Eastmoor Dragons.[114]

Rugby Union Football is played at Sandal RFC[115] and was played by Wakefield RFC at College Grove from 1901 to 2004 when the club ceased playing.

Wakefield F.C. play in the Northern Premier League Division One North after moving from the village of Emley in 2001. The club played at Belle Vue until the end of the 2005/6 season when it moved to Wakefield RFC's former ground at College Grove for the 2006/7 season.[116] Wakefield Sports Club at College Grove also has the Yorkshire Regional Hockey Academy, Wakefield Bowls Club and Wakefield Squash Club on the same site.[117]

The Wakefield Archers meet at QEGS in Wakefield or at Slazengers Sports Club, Horbury and has archers shooting olympic recurve bows, compound bows and longbows.[118] Thornes Park Athletics Stadium is home to Wakefield Harriers A.C. Members Martyn Bernard and Emily Freeman competed in the Beijing Olympics.[119] Local teams Newton Hill and Wakefield Thornes are members of the Leeds-West Riding Cricket League. [120]

There is a 100 acre watersports lake at Pugneys Country Park catering for non-powered watersports such as canoeing, sailing and windsurfing.[121] Golf clubs include the municipal course at Lupset and the private Wakefield Golf Club at Sandal.[122]

Wakefield has two successful current senior international swimmers (Ian Perrell and Rachel Jack).

Public services

Wakefield Prison, originally built as a house of correction in 1594, is a maximum security prison.[123] Wakefield is policed by the West Yorkshire Police force and is within the DA, Wakefield division, which covers the whole district.[124] The statutory emergency fire and rescue service is provided by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, from Wakefield fire station.[125] Hospital services are provided by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and community health services, including GPs, district and community nurses, dentists and pharmacists, are co-ordinated by Wakefield District Primary Care Trust.[126][127] Waste management is co-ordinated by the local authority. Wakefield's Distribution Network Operator for electricity is CE Electric via Yorkshire Electricity. Yorkshire Water manages Wakefield's drinking and waste water.[128]

Notable people

Artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield in 1903.[129] David Storey born in Wakefield in 1933 is a novelist and playwright who in 1960 wrote "This Sporting Life" which was made into a film in 1963.[130] Former Archbishop of York, David Hope, born 1940, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon The Lord Hope of Thornes KCVO PC, was born in Thornes.[131]

Twin cities

Wakefield is twinned with several towns and cities including:[132]


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by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Collected in Twice-Told Tales, 1837.

In some old magazine or newspaper I recollect a story, told as truth, of a man--let us call him Wakefield--who absented himself for a long time from his wife. The fact, thus abstractedly stated, is not very uncommon, nor--without a proper distinction of circumstances--to be condemned either as naughty or nonsensical. Howbeit, this, though far from the most aggravated, is perhaps the strangest, instance on record, of marital delinquency; and, moreover, as remarkable a freak as may be found in the whole list of human oddities. The wedded couple lived in London. The man, under pretence of going a journey, took lodgings in the next street to his own house, and there, unheard of by his wife or friends, and without the shadow of a reason for such self-banishment, dwelt upwards of twenty years. During that period, he beheld his home every day, and frequently the forlorn Mrs. Wakefield. And after so great a gap in his matrimonial felicity--when his death was reckoned certain, his estate settled, his name dismissed from memory, and his wife, long, long ago, resigned to her autumnal widowhood--he entered the door one evening, quietly, as from a day's absence, and became a loving spouse till death.

This outline is all that I remember. But the incident, though of the purest originality, unexampled, and probably never to be repeated, is one, I think, which appeals to the generous sympathies of mankind. We know, each for himself, that none of us would perpetrate such a folly, yet feel as if some other might. To my own contemplations, at least, it has often recurred, always exciting wonder, but with a sense that the story must be true, and a conception of its hero's character. Whenever any subject so forcibly affects the mind, time is well spent in thinking of it. If the reader choose, let him do his own meditation; or if he prefer to ramble with me through the twenty years of Wakefield's vagary, I bid him welcome; trusting that there will be a pervading spirit and a moral, even should we fail to find them, done up neatly, and condensed into the final sentence. Thought has always its efficacy, and every striking incident its moral.

What sort of a man was Wakefield? We are free to shape out our own idea, and call it by his name. He was now in the meridian of life; his matrimonial affections, never violent, were sobered into a calm, habitual sentiment; of all husbands, he was likely to be the most constant, because a certain sluggishness would keep his heart at rest, wherever it might be placed. He was intellectual, but not actively so; his mind occupied itself in long and lazy musings, that ended to no purpose, or had not vigor to attain it; his thoughts were seldom so energetic as to seize hold of words. Imagination, in the proper meaning of the term, made no part of Wakefield's gifts. With a cold but not depraved nor wandering heart, and a mind never feverish with riotous thoughts, nor perplexed with originality, who could have anticipated that our friend would entitle himself to a foremost place among the doers of eccentric deeds? Had his acquaintances been asked, who was the man in London the surest to perform nothing today which should be remembered on the morrow, they would have thought of Wakefield. Only the wife of his bosom might have hesitated. She, without having analyzed his character, was partly aware of a quiet selfishness, that had rusted into his inactive mind; of a peculiar sort of vanity, the most uneasy attribute about him; of a disposition to craft which had seldom produced more positive effects than the keeping of petty secrets, hardly worth revealing; and, lastly, of what she called a little strangeness, sometimes, in the good man. This latter quality is indefinable, and perhaps non-existent.

Let us now imagine Wakefield bidding adieu to his wife. It is the dusk of an October evening. His equipment is a drab great-coat, a hat covered with an oilcloth, top-boots, an umbrella in one hand and a small portmanteau in the other. He has informed Mrs. Wakefield that he is to take the night coach into the country. She would fain inquire the length of his journey, its object, and the probable time of his return; but, indulgent to his harmless love of mystery, interrogates him only by a look. He tells her not to expect him positively by the return coach, nor to be alarmed should he tarry three or four days; but, at all events, to look for him at supper on Friday evening. Wakefield himself, be it considered, has no suspicion of what is before him. He holds out his hand, she gives her own, and meets his parting kiss in the matter-of-course way of a ten years' matrimony; and forth goes the middle-aged Mr. Wakefield, almost resolved to perplex his good lady by a whole week's absence. After the door has closed behind him, she perceives it thrust partly open, and a vision of her husband's face, through the aperture, smiling on her, and gone in a moment. For the time, this little incident is dismissed without a thought. But, long afterwards, when she has been more years a widow than a wife, that smile recurs, and flickers across all her reminiscences of Wakefield's visage. In her many musings, she surrounds the original smile with a multitude of fantasies, which make it strange and awful: as, for instance, if she imagines him in a coffin, that parting look is frozen on his pale features; or, if she dreams of him in heaven, still his blessed spirit wears a quiet and crafty smile. Yet, for its sake, when all others have given him up for dead, she sometimes doubts whether she is a widow.

But our business is with the husband. We must hurry after him along the street, ere he lose his individuality, and melt into the great mass of London life. It would be vain searching for him there. Let us follow close at his heels, therefore, until, after several superfluous turns and doublings, we find him comfortably established by the fireside of a small apartment, previously bespoken. He is in the next street to his own, and at his journey's end. He can scarcely trust his good fortune, in having got thither unperceived--recollecting that, at one time, he was delayed by the throng, in the very focus of a lighted lantern; and, again, there were footsteps that seemed to tread behind his own, distinct from the multitudinous tramp around him; and, anon, he heard a voice shouting afar, and fancied that it called his name. Doubtless, a dozen busybodies had been watching him, and told his wife the whole affair. Poor Wakefield! Little knowest thou thine own insignificance in this great world! No mortal eye but mine has traced thee. Go quietly to thy bed, foolish man: and, on the morrow, if thou wilt be wise, get thee home to good Mrs. Wakefield, and tell her the truth. Remove not thyself, even for a little week, from thy place in her chaste bosom. Were she, for a single moment, to deem thee dead, or lost, or lastingly divided from her, thou wouldst be wofully conscious of a change in thy true wife forever after. It is perilous to make a chasm in human affections; not that they gape so long and wide--but so quickly close again!

Almost repenting of his frolic, or whatever it may be termed, Wakefield lies down betimes, and starting from his first nap, spreads forth his arms into the wide and solitary waste of the unaccustomed bed. "No,"-thinks he, gathering the bedclothes about him,--"I will not sleep alone another night."

In the morning he rises earlier than usual, and sets himself to consider what he really means to do. Such are his loose and rambling modes of thought that he has taken this very singular step with the consciousness of a purpose, indeed, but without being able to define it sufficiently for his own contemplation. The vagueness of the project, and the convulsive effort with which he plunges into the execution of it, are equally characteristic of a feeble-minded man. Wakefield sifts his ideas, however, as minutely as he may, and finds himself curious to know the progress of matters at home--how his exemplary wife will endure her widowhood of a week; and, briefly, how the little sphere of creatures and circumstances, in which he was a central object, will be affected by his removal. A morbid vanity, therefore, lies nearest the bottom of the affair. But, how is he to attain his ends? Not, certainly, by keeping close in this comfortable lodging, where, though he slept and awoke in the next street to his home, he is as effectually abroad as if the stage-coach had been whirling him away all night. Yet, should he reappear, the whole project is knocked in the head. His poor brains being hopelessly puzzled with this dilemma, he at length ventures out, partly resolving to cross the head of the street, and send one hasty glance towards his forsaken domicile. Habit--for he is a man of habits--takes him by the hand, and guides him, wholly unaware, to his own door, where, just at the critical moment, he is aroused by the scraping of his foot upon the step. Wakefield! whither are you going?

At that instant his fate was turning on the pivot. Little dreaming of the doom to which his first backward step devotes him, he hurries away, breathless with agitation hitherto unfelt, and hardly dares turn his head at the distant corner. Can it be that nobody caught sight of him? Will not the whole household--the decent Mrs. Wakefield, the smart maid servant, and the dirty little footboy--raise a hue and cry, through London streets, in pursuit of their fugitive lord and master? Wonderful escape! He gathers courage to pause and look homeward, but is perplexed with a sense of change about the familiar edifice, such as affects us all, when, after a separation of months or years, we again see some hill or lake, or work of art, with which we were friends of old. In ordinary cases, this indescribable impression is caused by the comparison and contrast between our imperfect reminiscences and the reality. In Wakefield, the magic of a single night has wrought a similar transformation, because, in that brief period, a great moral change has been effected. But this is a secret from himself. Before leaving the spot, he catches a far and momentary glimpse of his wife, passing athwart the front window, with her face turned towards the head of the street. The crafty nincompoop takes to his heels, scared with the idea that, among a thousand such atoms of mortality, her eye must have detected him. Right glad is his heart, though his brain be somewhat dizzy, when he finds himself by the coal fire of his lodgings.

So much for the commencement of this long whimwham. After the initial conception, and the stirring up of the man's sluggish temperament to put it in practice, the whole matter evolves itself in a natural train. We may suppose him, as the result of deep deliberation, buying a new wig, of reddish hair, and selecting sundry garments, in a fashion unlike his customary suit of brown, from a Jew's old-clothes bag. It is accomplished. Wakefield is another man. The new system being now established, a retrograde movement to the old would be almost as difficult as the step that placed him in his unparalleled position. Furthermore, he is rendered obstinate by a sulkiness occasionally incident to his temper, and brought on at present by the inadequate sensation which he conceives to have been produced in the bosom of Mrs. Wakefield. He will not go back until she be frightened half to death. Well; twice or thrice has she passed before his sight, each time with a heavier step, a paler cheek, and more anxious brow; and in the third week of his non-appearance he detects a portent of evil entering the house, in the guise of an apothecary. Next day the knocker is muffled. Towards nightfall comes the chariot of a physician, and deposits its big-wigged and solemn burden at Wakefield's door, whence, after a quarter of an hour's visit, he emerges, perchance the herald of a funeral. Dear woman! Will she die? By this time, Wakefield is excited to something like energy of feeling, but still lingers away from his wife's bedside, pleading with his conscience that she must not be disturbed at such a juncture. If aught else restrains him, he does not know it. In the course of a few weeks she gradually recovers; the crisis is over; her heart is sad, perhaps, but quiet; and, let him return soon or late, it will never be feverish for him again. Such ideas glimmer through the midst of Wakefield's mind, and render him indistinctly conscious that an almost impassable gulf divides his hired apartment from his former home. "It is but in the next street!" he sometimes says. Fool! it is in another world. Hitherto, he has put off his return from one particular day to another; henceforward, he leaves the precise time undetermined. Not tomorrow--probably next week--pretty soon. Poor man! The dead have nearly as much chance of revisiting their earthly homes as the self-banished Wakefield.

Would that I had a folio to write, instead of an article of a dozen pages! Then might I exemplify how an influence beyond our control lays its strong hand on every deed which we do, and weaves its consequences into an iron tissue of necessity. Wakefield is spell-bound. We must leave him for ten years or so, to haunt around his house, without once crossing the threshold, and to be faithful to his wife, with all the affection of which his heart is capable, while he is slowly fading out of hers. Long since, it must be remarked, he had lost the perception of singularity in his conduct.

Now for a scene! Amind the throng of a London street we distinguish a man, now waxing elderly, with few characteristics to attract careless observers, yet bearing, in his whole aspect, the handwriting of no common fate, for such as have the skill to read it. He is meagre; his low and narrow forehead is deeply wrinkled; his eyes, small and lustreless, sometimes wander apprehensively about him, but oftener seem to look inward. He bends his head, and moves with an indescribable obliquity of gait, as if unwilling to display his full front to the world. Watch him long enough to see what we have described, and you will allow that circumstances--which often produce remarkable men from nature's ordinary handiwork--have produced one such here. Next, leaving him to sidle along the footwalk, cast your eyes in the opposite direction, where a portly female, considerably in the wane of life, with a prayer-book in her hand, is proceeding to yonder church. She has the placid mien of settled widowhood. Her regrets have either died away, or have become so essential to her heart, that they would be poorly exchanged for joy. Just as the lean man and well-conditioned woman are passing, a slight obstruction occurs, and brings these two figures directly in contact. Their hands touch; the pressure of the crowd forces her bosom against his shoulder; they stand, face to face, staring into each other's eyes. After a ten years' separation, thus Wakefield meets his wife!

The throng eddies away, and carries them asunder. The sober widow, resuming her former pace, proceeds to church, but pauses in the portal, and throws a perplexed glance along the street. She passes in, however, opening her prayer-book as she goes. And the man! with so wild a face that busy and selfish London stands to gaze after him, he hurries to his lodgings, bolts the door, and throws himself upon the bed. The latent feelings of years break out; his feeble mind acquires a brief energy from their strength; all the miserable strangeness of his life is revealed to him at a glance: and he cries out, passionately, "Wakefield ! Wakefield! You are mad!"

Perhaps he was so. The singularity of his situation must have so moulded him to himself, that, considered in regard to his fellow-creatures and the business of life, he could not be said to possess his right mind. He had contrived, or rather he had happened, to dissever himself from the world--to vanish--to give up his place and privileges with living men, without being admitted among the dead. The life of a hermit is nowise parallel to his. He was in the bustle of the city, as of old; but the crowd swept by and saw him not; he was, we may figuratively say, always beside his wife and at his hearth, yet must never feel the warmth of the one nor the affection of the other. It was Wakefield's unprecedented fate to retain his original share of human sympathies, and to be still involved in human interests, while he had lost his reciprocal influence on them. It would be a most curious speculation to trace out the effect of such circumstances on his heart and intellect, separately, and in unison. Yet, changed as he was, he would seldom be conscious of it, but deem himself the same man as ever; glimpses of the truth indeed. would come, but only for the moment; and still he would keep saying, "I shall soon go back!"--nor reflect that he had been saying so for twenty years.

I conceive, also, that these twenty years would appear, in the retrospect, scarcely longer than the week to which Wakefield had at first limited his absence. He would look on the affair as no more than an interlude in the main business of his life. When, after a little while more, he should deem it time to reenter his parlor, his wife would clap her hands for joy, on beholding the middle-aged Mr. Wakefield. Alas, what a mistake! Would Time but await the close of our favorite follies, we should be young men, all of us, and till Doomsday.

One evening, in the twentieth year since he vanished, Wakefield is taking his customary walk towards the dwelling which he still calls his own. It is a gusty night of autumn, with frequent showers that patter down upon the pavement, and are gone before a man can put up his umbrella. Pausing near the house, Wakefield discerns, through the parlor windows of the second floor, the red glow and the glimmer and fitful flash of a comfortable fire. On the ceiling appears a grotesque shadow of good Mrs. Wakefield. The cap, the nose and chin, and the broad waist, form an admirable caricature, which dances, moreover, with the up-flickering and down-sinking blaze, almost too merrily for the shade of an elderly widow. At this instant a shower chances to fall, and is driven, by the unmannerly gust, full into Wakefield's face and bosom. He is quite penetrated with its autumnal chill. Shall he stand, wet and shivering here, when his own hearth has a good fire to warm him, and his own wife will run to fetch the gray coat and small-clothes, which, doubtless, she has kept carefully in the closet of their bed chamber? No! Wakefield is no such fool. He ascends the steps--heavily!--for twenty years have stiffened his legs since he came down--but he knows it not. Stay, Wakefield! Would you go to the sole home that is left you? Then step into your grave! The door opens. As he passes in, we have a parting glimpse of his visage, and recognize the crafty smile, which was the precursor of the little joke that he has ever since been playing off at his wife's expense. How unmercifully has he quizzed the poor woman! Well, a good night's rest to Wakefield!

This happy event--supposing it to be such--could only have occurred at an unpremeditated moment. We will not follow our friend across the threshold. He has left us much food for thought, a portion of which shall lend its wisdom to a moral, and be shaped into a figure. Amid the seeming confusion of our mysterious world, individuals are so nicely adjusted to a system, and systems to one another and to a whole, that, by stepping aside for a moment, a man exposes himself to a fearful risk of losing his place forever. Like Wakefield, he may become, as it were, the Outcast of the Universe.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

="">See Wakefield (disambiguation) for articles sharing the title Wakefield.

WAKEFIELD, a city and municipal and parliamentary borough in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, 1 752 m. N.N.W. from London. Pop. (1901) 41,413. It is served by the Great Northern, Midland and Great Central railways (Westgate station), and the Lancashire and Yorkshire and North-Eastern railways (Kirkgate station), the Great Northern Company using both stations. It lies on the river Calder, mainly on the north bank, in a pleasant undulating country, towards the eastern outskirts of the great industrial district of the West Riding. The river is crossed by a fine bridge of eight arches on which stands the chapel of St Mary, a beautiful structure 50 ft. long by 25 wide, of the richest Decorated character. Its endowment is attributed to Edward IV., in memory of his father Richard, duke of York, who fell at the battle of Wakefield (1460). It was completely restored in 1847. In 1888 the bishopric of Wakefield was formed, almost entirely from that of Ripon, having been sanctioned in 1878. The diocese includes about one-seventh of the parishes of Yorkshire, and also covers a very small portion of Lancashire. The cathedral church of All Saints occupies a very ancient site, but only slight traces of buildings previous to the 14th century can be seen. In the early part of that century the church was almost rebuilt, and was consecrated by Archbishop William de Melton in 1329. Further great alterations took place in the 15th century, and the general effect of the building as it stands is Perpendicular. The church consists of a clerestoried nave and choir, with a western tower; the eastward extension of the choir, the construction of the retrochoir and other works were undertaken in 1900 and consecrated in 1905 as a memorial to Dr Walsham How, the first bishop. During restoration of the spire (the height of which is 247 ft.) in 1905, records of previous work upon it were discovered in a sealed receptacle in the weather-vane. Among the principal public buildings are the town hall (1880), in the French Renaissance style; the county hall (1898), a handsome structure with octagonal tower and dome over the principal entrance; the large corn exchange (1837, enlarged 1862), including a concert-room; the market house, the sessions house, the county offices (1896) and the prison for the West Riding; the mechanics' institution with large library, church institute and library, and the fine art institution. A free library was founded in 1905, and a statue of Queen Victoria unveiled in the Bull Ring at the same time. Benevolent institutions include the Clayton hospital (1879), on the pavilion system, and the West Riding pauper lunatic asylum with its branches. The Elizabethan grammar school, founded in 1592, is the principal educational establishment. Among several picturesque old houses remaining, that known as the Six Chimneys, an Elizabethan structure, is the most striking.

Formerly Wakefield was the great emporium of the cloth manufacture in Yorkshire, but in the 19th century it was superseded in this respect by Leeds. Foreign weavers of cloth were established at Wakefield by Henry VII.; and Leland, writing in the time of Henry VIII., states that its "whole profit standeth by coarse drapery." During the 18th century it became noted for the manufacture of worsted yarn and woollen stuffs. Although its manufacturing importance is now small in comparison with that of several other Yorkshire towns, it possesses mills for spinning worsted and carpet yarns, coco-nut fibre and China grass. It has also rag-crushing mills, chemical works, soap-works and iron-works; and there are a number of collieries in the neighbourhood. Wakefield is the chief agricultural town in the West Riding, and has one of the largest corn markets in the north of England. It possesses agricultural implement and machine works, grain and flour mills, malt-works and breweries. A large trade in grain is carried on by, means of the Calder, and the building of boats for inland navigation is a considerable industry. There are extensive market-gardens in the neighbourhood. In the vicinity of Wakefield is Walton Hall, the residence of the famous naturalist Charles Waterton (1782-1865). The parliamentary borough returns one member. The municipal borough is under a mayor, 9 aldermen and 27 councillors. Area, 4060 acres.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor, Wakefield (Wacheeld) was the chief place in a large district belonging to the king and was still a royal manor in 1086. Shortly afterwards it was granted to William, Earl Warenne, and his heirs, under whom it formed an extensive baronial liberty, extending to the confines of Lancashire and Cheshire. It remained with the Warenne family until the 14th century, when John Warenne, earl of Warenne and Surrey, having no legitimate heir, settled it on his mistress, Maud de Keirford and her two sons. They, however, predeceased him, and after Maud's death in 1360 the manor fell to the crown. Charles I. granted it to Henry, earl of Holland, and after passing through the hands of Sir Gervase Clifton and Sir Christopher Clapham, it was purchased about 1700 by the duke of Leeds, ancestor of the present duke, who is now lord of the manor. In1203-1204William Earl Warenne received a grant of a fair at Wakefield on the vigil, day and morrow of All Saints' day. As early as 1231 the town seems to have had some form of burghal organization, since in that year a burgage there is mentioned in a fine. In 1331, at the request of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, the king granted the "good men" of the town pavage there for three years, and in the same year the earl obtained a grant of another fair there on the vigil, day and morrow of St Oswald. There is no other indication of a borough. The battle of Wakefield was fought in 1460 on the banks of the river Calder just outside the town.

Leland gives an interesting account of the town in the 16th century, and while showing that the manufacture of clothing was the chief industry, says also that Wakefield is "a very quik market town and meatly large, well served of flesh and fish both from sea and by rivers ... so that all vitaile is very good and chepe there. A right honest man shall fare well for 2d. a meal. ... There be plenti of se coal in the quarters about Wakefield." The corn market, held on Fridays, is of remote origin. A cattle market is also held on alternate Wednesdays under charter of 1765. The town was enfranchised in 1832, and was incorporated in 1848 under the title of the mayor, aldermen and councillors of the borough of Wakefield. Before this date it was under the superintendence of a constable appointed by the steward of the lord of the manor.

See Victoria County History, Yorkshire; W. S. Banks, History of Wakefield (1871); E. Parsons, History of Leeds, Eec. (1834); T. Taylor, History of Wakefield (1886).

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  1. An industrial city in northern England; traditionally a centre for the cloth industry.
  2. A habitational surname.

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