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Wakefield Fast Facts
- State: England
- District: WAKEFIELD
- Famous for/as:
- Population: 76,886
- Language: English
- Best Season:
- Local Transport:
- STDCode: 01924
Wakefield, United Kingdom Overview
Wakefield's location, at the heart of England and at the centre of the UK's communications network, offers unsurpassed transport links, providing fast connections by road, rail, and air. At the intersection between the M1 and M62 and with the A1 at its eastern boundary, the district is well placed to access other regional centres such as Leeds, Sheffield and York.
Ease of commuting extends beyond the region with Wakefield Westgate, the city's mainline station situated on the high speed east coast mainline, offering excellent connections to key UK destinations. Direct half-hourly services operate to London throughout the day with the quickest journey taking under 2 h. Sheffield, York, Manchester, Liverpool, and Newcastle are also within easy reach.
Several airports offering domestic and international flights are nearby, including Leeds Bradford Airport, Robin Hood Airport, Manchester Airport and East Midlands Airport. Manchester Airport, East Midlands Airport, and Leeds Bradford Airport provide direct flights to London and Brussels.
The district has emerged from over a century of reliance on coal mining to become a thriving manufacturing, shopping and distribution centre, taking full advantage of its place at the heart of the region's transport network.
Future Vision Wakefield is a district with a proud heritage and a buoyant future, whose people are represented by forward-looking Wakefield Council that has a vision for the future:- "In ten years time, Wakefield will be a distinctive, vibrant city at the heart of the district's economy with a skilled workforce, making a real contribution to the prosperity and diversity of the Yorkshire and Humber region. The city will be a place for people, with a strong public transport system allowing quick and convenient access to and around the city and surrounding neighbourhoods. Wakefield will be a thriving commercial centre presenting distinctive retail areas, modern office accommodation, a range of quality residential opportunities and a mix of excellent leisure opportunities."
The City Wakefield city is a historic seat of regional government in Yorkshire and for two centuries provided the county headquarters of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Today the city retains its strong tradition of public service employment with the headquarters of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, the Yorkshire and Humber regional assembly, the West Yorkshire Police, and the headquarters of the West Yorkshire Ambulance Service located at its heart within the civic quarter.
The District Wakefield district covers some 350 square kilometres and is home to 315,000 people in a diverse range of city, urban and rural communities, and an amalgam of what were previously 14 different local authorities.
The north west includes Horbury, Ossett, Wrenthorpe, Stanley and Altofts, while Normanton, Castleford, Pontefract, Knottingley, Featherstone and a host of smaller settlements make up the five towns. In the south east, there are the towns of Hemsworth, South Kirkby and South Elmsall as well as other communities.
Some 70 per cent of the rural communities of the district is designated as green belt. Dotted about the rolling countryside are villages like Middlestown, Crigglestone, Crofton, Woolley and Ackworth.
Wakefield Council and its partner organisations in the Wakefield District Partnership are making great strides in bringing new life to the old mining communities of the south east. Major achievements have already been made in reclaiming former colliery sites for both leisure and industrial use.
Wakefield has a lot to offer. It has a rich industrial heritage which visitors can experience at the National Coal Mining museum. It is known for its lively nightlife. The District itself is made up of the City and its Five Town:, Castleford, Horbury, Normanton, Ossett and Pontefract.
All areas of Wakefield boast some sort of attraction: from Pontefract's castle and sweet factories (including the Haribo factory) to Castleford's Xscape entertainment complex and the Freeport shopping village.
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Must See Places in Wakefield, United Kingdom
Wakefield, United Kingdom History
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. In the Domesday Book of 1086, it was written Wachefeld and also as Wachefelt.
Flint and stone tools and later bronze and iron implements have been found at Lee Moor and Lupset in the Wakefield area showing evidence of human activity since prehistoric times. 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, through Kirklees and on to Manchester crossed the River Calder by a ford at Wakefield near the site of Wakefield Bridge. Wakefield was probably settled by the Angles in the 5th or 6th century and after 876 AD the area was controlled by the Vikings who founded twelve hamlets or thorpes around Wakefield. They divided the area into wapentakes and Wakefield was part of the Wapentake of Agbrigg. The settlement grew near a crossing place on the River Calder around three roads, Westgate, Northgate and Kirkgate. the "gate" suffix derives from Old Norse gata meaning road and kirk, from kirkja indicates there was a church.
Before 1066 the manor of Wakefield belonged to Edward the Confessor and it passed to William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings. After the Conquest Wakefield was a victim of the Harrying of the north in 1069 when William the Conqueror took revenge on the local population for resistance to Norman rule. The settlement was recorded as Wachfeld in the Domesday Book of 1086, and covered a much greater area than present day Wakefield, much of which was described as "waste". The manor was granted by the crown to William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey whose descendants, the Earls Warenne, inherited it after his death in 1088. The construction of Sandal Castle began early in the 12th century. A second castle was built at Lawe Hill on the north side of the Calder but was abandoned. 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, held the area until the 14th century, when it passed to their heirs. Norman tenants holding land in the region included the Lyvet family at Lupset.
The Domesday Book recorded two churches, one in Wakefield and one in Sandal Magna. The Saxon church in Wakefield was rebuilt in about 1100 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. In 1203 William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey received a grant for a market in the town. In 1204 King John granted the rights for a fair at the feast of All Saints, 1 November, and in 1258 Henry III granted the right for fair on the feast of St John the Baptist, 24 June. The market close to the Bull Ring and the church. 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.
During the Wars of the Roses, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York was killed on 30 December 1460 in the Battle of Wakefield near Sandal Castle. As preparation for the impending invasion by the Spanish Armada in April 1558, 400 men from the wapentake of Morley and Agbrigg were summoned to Bruntcliffe near Morley with their weapons. Men from Kirkgate, Westgate, Northgate and Sandal were amongst them and all returned by August. 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.
In medieval times Wakefield became an inland port on the 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 the town with access to the North Sea. 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 of England. The town was a centre for cloth dealing with its own piece hall, the Tammy Hall, built in 1766. In the late 1700s Georgian town houses and St John's Church were built to the north of the town centre.