Pontefract Castle secures Heritage Lottery Fund investment

​Date: 04/04/14

Wakefield Council has received a confirmed grant of £3.045 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Pontefract Castle's Key to the North project, it was announced today.

The money will allow parts of the castle not seen by the public since 1649 to be opened up. This will include the Sally Port, Swillington Tower, restored Victorian paths and three viewing platforms, two of which will be fully accessible.

The project aims to improve the visitor experience at the castle by carrying out conservation work which will take it off English Heritage's 'At Risk' register. The work will also restore and extend the Arts and Crafts barn to provide improved learning facilities, a shop and a café.

Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council said: "We are delighted that the HLF is supporting our work at Pontefract Castle with this grant. The money will help put Pontefract on the map for tourists, building on what is an already popular site, and will certainly bring wider economic benefits into the town.

"I'm sure people from all over the district and beyond will be keen to join in with one of the events made possible by this extra money and experience a piece of thousand-year-old history."

Cllr Les Shaw, the Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: "Pontefract castle is significant not just in our district's history, but in the country's history as the site of the death of King Richard II and a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil Wars.

"How amazing to think that we can open up parts of this immensely important building not seen for hundreds of years."

Fiona Spiers, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber said: "Pontefract Castle has had a long and varied history, ranging from the murder of a king, through civil war sieges to the cultivation of licorice. HLF is really pleased to be able to invest this money in conserving and rejuvenating the site, helping to tell the important role the castle has played in events that shaped the country. We were particularly impressed by the passion and support local people have shown for this project which will hopefully lead to many more visitors discovering the charms and history of the castle."

The money will enable a comprehensive programme of learning activities and events to be delivered, and there will be opportunities for the public to join in the delivery with a volunteer programme offering four different styles of work opportunity.

Additional funding for the £3.5 million project is from English Heritage and Wakefield Council.