Castle is ready for visitors

Coun Jacquie Speight at the new visitor centre. Pic by Porl Medlock
Coun Jacquie Speight at the new visitor centre. Pic by Porl Medlock

A new visitor centre at Pontefract Castle will open its doors for the first time today, as a £3.5m project to regenerate the historic site nears completion.

The centre has been developed from an old arts and crafts barn and includes a cafe, shop, and museum showing artefacts from a bygone era which have been unearthed in the town.

Coun Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “The old derelict arts and crafts barn has been beautifully restored and given a modern extension. We can now offer an activity zone for school learning sessions, meetings, craft activities and so on. In addition there are modern toilets and a baby changing facility, a welcoming shop that offers visitors information about other nearby attractions, a museum space and a café .”

Anthony Hegney, director of catering company Asparagus Green, will run the new centre’s new eatery The Liquorice Cafe.

He said: “We will focus on the best of Yorkshire produce, with a hint of liquorice wherever possible, in recognition of the historic significance of the plant to the town.”

The centre has been completed as part of the £3.5m Key to the North scheme to conserve the castle. The heritage project, funded through a £3.04m National Lottery grant with support from Historic England, the council, the Wolfson Foundation and landfill charity EPaC, will also see parts of the site not seen by the public since 1649 opened up.