Pontefract Magistrates’ Court building has heard the cases of thousands of accused criminals in its 200-year history as a courthouse, but the atmosphere today is rather different.
Since January, the historic site has been operating as a market and antiques centre, a venture that holds a personal connection for its owner Philip Weatherell.
Not only did his grandmother, Mary Lord, sit on the magistrates’ bench for over a decade in the 1960s and 70s, but by transforming the site into a community venue selling vintage items, the businessman is also following in the footsteps of his mother Kay, who owns the Montpellier Mews Antiques Centre in Harrogate.
Mr Weatherell, whose company Weatherell Investments bought the site in August 2016, three years after the court’s closure, hoped the Magistrates Market would support independent retailers on the high street, attract new footfall to Pontefract town centre and breathe fresh life into a disused Grade II-Listed building.
Mr Weatherell says: “We were delighted to be able to open the centre fully to the public and provide such a diverse range of shopping opportunities as well as interesting experiences.
“We are already attracting shoppers to the centre from across the UK as well as Yorkshire.”
TripAdvisor describing it as a “lovely little treasure chest”, an “absolute gem” and “just what Pontefract town needed, putting it back on the map”.
Local resident and frequent visitor Amy Stratton adds: “This is just what Pontefract and the local area needs. It is not just the run of the mill antiques shop but a real cultural centre and I love spending time here.”
Events planned at the centre over the next year include exhibitions and demonstrations. Visit magistratesmarket.co.uk to find out more.