Pontefract Townscape Heritage Initiative
About the Pontefract Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI)
Ending in the autumn of 2018, the THI ran over 7 years offering grants to building owners of history properties to bring them back to their former glory.
In total £2m was invested to restore 27 buildings, comprising £0.5m of private sector and £1.5m in grants shared 50/50 from Wakefield Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. A wide variety of building were improved. These ranged from grand Georgian Period Town Houses, the Robert Adams designed Red Lion to Victorian Terraces.
Grants offered ranged from £15,000 to £290,000. Works undertaken included structural repairs, repairs to roofs, windows, chimneys, brickwork and installing heritage style shop fronts and features. Many projects involved extensive restoration and repair works.
Buildings on Ropergate, Cornmarket, Beastfair, Market Place, Finkle Street and Gillygate benefited from the grant including the Liquorice Bush, the Red Lion, Ropergate House, 10 Market Place, 1-4 Gillygate and 1-7 Finkle Street.
Properties improved on Gillygates have transformed the appearance of the street and brought an economic uplift to this area of the town attracting private investment to buildings not eligible for THI funding.
The use of heritage colours on Market Place have enlivened the street creating a vibrant bright appearance appealing to shoppers and visitors. In total 7 properties have been improved on Market Place.
Gateway projects have also had an important impact improving the entrances into the town at Ropergate End and Cornmarket.
A legacy of the improved buildings is their contribution towards the growth of Pontefract's economy, seeing new employment created in buildings receiving THI funding. These include financial office based jobs, taxi drivers, estate agents, butchers, jewellers, nail studio workers, retail and catering workers.
Overall the combined effect of the improved buildings has uplifted the appearance of Pontefract Town Centre which is experiencing excellent occupation of retail premises with less than 10% recorded as vacant; a figure well below the national average.
Overview of THI buildings
27 buildings completed
2-4 Gillygate (Pickerings Butchers)
29 Gillygate (Gillygate Fisheries)
1 Market Place/3 Gillygate
4 Market Place (Brosgill's Opticians)
8 Market Place (Liquorice Bush)
10 Market Place
12 Market Place (The Red Lion)
15 Market Place (Roast House)
26 Market Place
43 Ropergate (Ropergate House)
13 Ropergate End (Anthony Blaza's)
15 Ropergate End (HBH Charted Accountants)
11-13 Cornmarket (Ackroyds Florist)
1-7 Finkle Street
The THI also raised awareness of Pontefract's heritage through training events, sharing information at events such as Heritage Open Days and Yorkshire Day. The scheme has also commissioned a new family 'Pontefract Spotters Guide' leaflet. The Spotters Guide is an architectural treasure hunt around Pontefract Town Centre for children and families. It includes an activity trail with buildings to spot, things to colour in and questions to answer. Copies of the guide are available from Pontefract Museum and Pontefract Castle.
The THI has also helped to fund a new temporary exhibition at
Pontefract Museum on the former Holmes Printing Works (Pomfret's Printery) which was based at 11-13 Gillygate for over 80 years, until it closed the early 1990s. The exhibition will run until December 2017.
A further success of the THI was providing training and advice on building maintenance to building owners and local contractors and the running events on the care of buildings. Information leaflets on building maintenance were produced and distributed to all building owners and their tenants.
The THI was involved in the annual Civic Society Heritage Days holding stalls, enactments and walks in Pontefract Town centre.
Two CSkills Level 3 Courses for maintaining pre 1919 Buildings were run and attended by building owners and local people. NVQ Level 3 on Heritage Skills were run for students attending Wakefield College and on-site training was provided for these students at live sites. A two day course on the restoration of brickwork and use of lime mortars was run attended by local contractors and building owners.
Three interpretation panels have been located in the town centre which celebrate the work of the THI identifying the buildings receiving grants.