Official launch for £3.4 million project

​The £3.4 million Key to the North project will be officially launched at Pontefract Castle on Saturday (June 6).

Civil War re-enactors, falconry, medieval musicians and medieval crafts will be just some of the attractions at the event.

Cllr Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “This is a fantastic project which will take the castle off the At Risk Register and improve enormously the visitor offer at the castle.

“We have already removed trees from around the site as part of the project and that has opened up amazing views across the area. However, we wanted to officially mark the start of the project, publicly thank our funders and invite the public to come along and join in the celebrations.”

Construction work is expected to start on site in late summer.

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and The Humber, said: “This project will enable visitors to appreciate the rich history of Pontefract Castle thanks to conservation work, a new visitor centre and an extensive learning programme with plenty of scope for public involvement. Volunteers will also be trained in a range of skills so they can play a full part in helping to bring local history to life.   

Tammy Whitaker, Planning and Conservation Director Historic England Yorkshire, said: “Historic England is very pleased to be supporting this project and we are excited to see how the site will be transformed over the coming months. Pontefract Castle has had a major influence on how the town has developed and reacted to national events such as the English Civil War. Its great to see how the community now embrace the site rather than seeking its demolition as they did in the later Seventeenth Century!”

The launch event runs from 11am until 4pm with the official launch at 1pm.
The entertainment includes free visits down the magazine (dungeon), falconry displays, a blacksmith, Haut Bois medieval musicians, stonemasonry and medieval tile making demonstrations. Sir Thomas Lunsford’s Regiment of the Civil War Society will be carrying out canon drills and there will be story telling in one of the new pavilion tents paid for by the project.

For visitors who wish to know more about the project there will be site tours highlighting the key areas during the afternoon.

Pontefract Castle has been awarded funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Historic England, EPaC landfill charity, the Wolfson Foundation and Wakefield Council for the £3.4 million Key to the North project over the next four years.

The project will result in the castle being taken off the At Risk register, a new visitor centre with a learning zone, exhibition space, shop and café, restored Victorian paths and many more features, such as viewing platforms.