Tales of the past and the living past

Project volunteers, from Wakefield Historical Society, have been uncovering some of the stories of Wood Street and the people that lived, worked and visited it over the years. Society volunteers will also be conducting interviews with people from across Wakefield and beyond, recording their experiences of living on, working on and visiting Wood Street.

If you have a story to tell, or are interested in finding out more, please contact us on cnewton@wakefield.gov.uk or visit our You Tube Channel.

Events at the Heart of Wakefield

Public events and celebrations have been at the heart of life on Wood Street, from the public elections of the 18th Century, which often ended in violence and riots, to the slightly more sedate, Wood Street Market events in 2013 and 2014.

One type of popular public event on Wood Street in the 19th Century was the Circus. Travelling circus was big business in the 19th century and there were a myriad of different troops that visited Wakefield including Cooke's Royal Circus and Sanger's Circus. In the mid-19th century there were hundreds of circuses operating in Britain. Trick riding was often the main attraction, but a variety of other acts also developed during this time.

Of the many circuses that visited Wood Street, perhaps the most famous today, is Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal, who visited in 1847. Pablo's Circus, was immortalised by Lennon and McCartney in 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!' on their 1967 album release 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band'.

Pablo, pictured here, was the first black circus owner in the United Kingdom and his circus was one of the most popular of its kind in Victorian Britain for around 30 years. He lost his wife in 1848 to an accident involving the collapse of a second hand temporary circus building that he bought from Hengler's Circus. He is buried in Woodhouse Cemetery, Leeds.

Pablo employed the infamous 'Mr (William) Kite' from 1843 to 1845. He was a riding master for Pablo Fanque and, as we can see on the poster, a tightrope walker too. He came from a circus family, and having toured with his own Circus, and Wells' Circus, he was also an all-round performer with John Sanger's Circus.

The song is credited to Lennon–McCartney and was primarily written and composed by John Lennon, although Paul McCartney claims that he also contributed to it, having spent the afternoon with John looking at the poster that inspired the song, which hung in John's living room.