Our Annual Dinner

Join us for our annual dinner which this year will, once again, be held at Create Cafe in Wakefield One.

If you like cocktails, great food and good company, this is the event for you!

Doors open at 7pm when a bar will be available from which to purchase drinks and order wine, etc, to accompany your meal. At 7.30, we will start with our cocktail demonstration when our mixologist for the evening, Shaun Mounsey, will demonstrate how to make three cocktails and one mocktail (the latter being without alcohol).

As Shaun demonstrates how to make the perfect cocktail, guests will have the chance to sample the drinks for themselves as they will each receive a tasting glass (approximately one-third measure) for each cocktail/mocktail that Shaun mixes.

If you’ve been to one of our Cocktail Masterclasses before, you’ll know just how popular they are! So do book early……..

Tickets cost £49 per person which includes three sample cocktails, one sample mocktail followed by a three course dinner (choice of menu ) followed by tea/coffee and mints.

Download details of the menu and how to book here.

Wakefield Civic Society receives Culture Everywhere grant from Wakefield Council

We are delighted to announce that we have received a Culture Everywhere Grant from Wakefield Council.

The grant will be used to extend our series of ‘Discover Wakefield’ leaflets which explain aspects of Wakefield’s built heritage. The new leaflets will be launched in September as part of the Society’s contribution to this year’s national Heritage Open Days programme.

Society President Kevin Trickett said “In 2021, the Society was awarded a grant from the Council to help promote an awareness of Wakefield’s architectural heritage. We were able to produce four leaflets which were accompanied by further information on our website.

“At the time, we were unable to organise our usual range of guided walks because the risk of infection from Covid and wanted to produce something that people could use to explore the city’s fascinating heritage on their own. The leaflets, which were made freely available at Wakefield libraries and at the West Yorkshire History Centre, proved popular. We were, therefore, very pleased to hear that we had been awarded another grant to produce more leaflets this year”.

The four leaflets produced in 2021 (illustrated above) were:

  1. Architect Charles Watson – the architect is credited with the design of houses in St John’s Square and the former Mechanics’ Institute as well as Stanley Royd Hospital.
  2. Monuments to Women – very often, it is the men who are remembered when it comes to historical monuments, but women have also been commemorated, even if fewer in number.
  3. Historic Pubs of Northgate – Illustrated with specially commissioned artwork based on old photos and period drawings and paintings, the leaflet maps out the locations of some of the former (and present) pubs of Northgate.
  4. A City of Art and Sculpture – the leaflet introduces some of the many artworks and architectural detailing that can be found just by walking around the city centre.

The four new leaflets will cover the following topics:

  • The Barbara Hepworth Connection – looking at the links between Barbara Hepworth and buildings in the city centre with which she was known to have been associated.
  • The Railway Stations of Wakefield – this leaflet will provide background to some of the city’s railway stations – many now lost.
  • Historic Pubs of Kirkgate – Although Westgate is often associated with Wakefield’s night-time economy, Kirkgate had a surprising number of pubs over the years, most long-since demolished to make way for modern development.
  • Lost Buildings of Wakefield – Many older people will have fond memories of Wakefield in the 1950s and 60s. Look at old photographs of the city centre and the sheer number of buildings that have been demolished is astonishing. This leaflet will highlight a number of the more significant ones.

The leaflets will again be made available free of charge from Wakefield libraries and the West Yorkshire History Centre. They will also feature in the Society’s guided walks and talks and, for a nominal amount, will be available to purchase on-line.

As in 2021, it will also be possible to download copies of the new leaflets from the Society’s website where an expanded text, with additional illustrations, will also be available to read.

For more information, have a look at the Society’s Discover Wakefield webpage: https://wakefieldcivicsociety.org.uk/discover-wakefield/

WTJ Insurance Brokers Ltd join the Society as our latest corporate member

We are delighted to announce that WTJ Insurance Brokers Ltd have become our latest Bronze corporate member.

Established in 1986, the company, based at Landmark House, 556 Leeds Road, Outwood, Wakefield, WF1 2DX, is one of the leading independent insurance brokers in the UK.

Account Executive David Woollin said “As a Wakefield based insurance-broker, we have vast experience of insuring historic buildings within our city. We understand the challenges and complexity of resorting and repairing historic buildings and endeavour to provide insurance solutions which are fit for purpose. We are proud to support Wakefield Civic Society and share their ethos of making Wakefield a better place in which to live, work or relax.

The Society offers a range of corporate memberships for local businesses and other organisations who share our aims. You can find out more on our website here.

Why not join us and add your name to the growing list of corporate members supporting the Society in its work?

Do contact us if you would like to find out more.

Margaret Morgan

Margaret Morgan, April 2016

We were saddened to hear of the passing of former Wakefield Civic Society President Mrs Margaret Morgan on 25th January.

Margaret first joined the Society’s Executive Committee in 1990 and served until May 2018 when she decided to retire from the role although she maintained her membership of the Society until her death.

Elected Society President in March 1991, Margaret continued in the role for four years until March 1995. She remains one of only two people to serve as President for longer than three years in the Society’s history (the three-year limit was set under the Society’s constitution at the time – a limit that has since been removed).

Part of her work on the Society’s committee was to organise the Society’s annual programme of visits and excursions – at first on her own and then later with the assistance of colleagues from the committee.

Margaret was well known to many of our members and regularly attended our events. She was also an active participant in the Society’s monthly Dining Club until the advent of Covid and lockdown in March 2020 at which point many of the Society’s face-to-face activities had to be paused.

As well as her involvement in the work of the Society, Margaret was also a trustee of the Gissing Trust for many years, including serving as chair of the Trust for a number of years. (The Trust was set up to celebrate the life and work of Wakefield-born novelist George Gissing.) She was also a member of the Friends of CHaT Parks, an organisation set up by the Society, and a volunteer at Nostell Priory.

Our photo above was taken at our Annual General Meeting in 2016 when the Society marked Margaret’s 90th birthday with the presentation of flowers and other gifts as an expression of our appreciation for her long service to the Society.

Below is an extract from the Society’s Newsletter published in January 1999.

Wakefield Civic Society Environment Awards 2022

Entries for our 2022 Environment Awards are now invited

The Society has been making awards for good design since 1966. Two years ago, and influenced by increased public and governmental focus on climate change and the need to protect the environment, the Society introduced new awards aimed specifically at environmental schemes. Although we did not run any awards in 2021 because of the Covid pandemic, we have decided the time is now right to offer Environment Awards once again.

This year, our Environment Awards will recognise projects that demonstrate innovation, imagination and good practice in nature conservation, the promotion of environmental quality and support of the wider goals of sustainable development. Cash prizes of £100 per award will be given.

The Awards are open to any individual, business or organisation with a suitable project in the Society’s ‘area of benefit’. We particularly welcome entries from community groups, youth groups and schools.

The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday, 4th March. Ideally, entries will be submitted electronically (via email or WeTransfer.com for larger files) using the official entry form which can be downloaded below. Where this is not possible, entries can be posted to us at our PO Box address.

Results will be announced at the Society’s Annual General Meeting to be held on the evening of 28th April 2022 (an event which may be held on-line or in person at the discretion of the Society’s Executive Committee and depending on the Covid situation at the time).

The number of awards offered will be at the discretion of the Society, informed by the number and quality of entries received.

The decision of the judging panel is final.

Rules & Criteria

A the rules and criteria for the awards can be downloaded here.

Application Form

To submit an entry for the awards, please use the entry form which can be downloaded here (in Word).

Blue plaque unveiled to Wakefield’s ‘unknown artist’

The Society has unveiled a blue plaque to Wakefield born sculptor and designer Percy Metcalfe CVO RDI – but it appears that not many people in his home city have actually heard of him – until now!

Born at 10 Longfield Terrace, Alverthorpe, on 14th January 1895, Metcalfe went on to study at the Leeds School of Art and then, having won a scholarship, at the Royal College of Art in London, although his studies were interrupted by his service in the Army from 1915 to 1919.

After a period of further study in Paris, Metcalfe returned to London where he was offered both public and private commissions including the commission to design the Exhibition Medal for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition.

His designs were selected by the newly formed Irish Free State for their coinage minted in 1928. He also produced designs for the Royal Mint from 1924 to 1948 and his design was used for the George Cross Medal introduced in 1940. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the era he was working in, his designs have a strong Art Deco look.

As well as coins and medals (see here for example), Metcalfe also designed car radiator mascots, shop fronts and interiors, and pottery, producing designs for the for the Ashtead Pottery.

His monumental sculpture included two huge lions used on the war memorial in Durban, South Africa.

Metcalfe was awarded the CVO (Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1937. The year after, he was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI).

Metcalfe lived in London. In 1920 he married Eveline Mabel Smith with whom he had two daughters. He died in London on 9 October 1970.

President of Wakefield Civic Society, Kevin Trickett said:

“Earlier this year, we were contacted by one of our members, Geoff Wood. A former committee member of many years standing, Geoff said that he would like to make a donation to the Society, which we were delighted and grateful to receive, but Geoff asked that part of the donation be used to pay for the cost of a blue plaque to commemorate the life and work of Percy Metcalfe. As so often happens when we receive a nomination, my first reaction was to look on-line to see who Percy was and what he had achieved – and what a find he turned out to be!

“I contacted the Hepworth Wakefield to see if they have any of Metcalfe’s designs in their collection – sadly they don’t. In fact, no one I’ve asked about Metcalfe in Wakefield seems to have heard of him! At least, I wasn’t alone in this respect”!

The plaque was unveiled at a ceremony at Balne Lane Community Centre, Balne Lane, Wakefield, on 8th December with the Mayor of Wakefield, Councillor Tracey Austin, and Geoff Wood being invited to perform the unveiling.

The plaque will be affixed to the house in Longfield Terrace where Metcalfe was born and spent his early years.

After the unveiling: Left to Right – Kevin Trickett, President of the Society, Rebecca Saville, owner of the property where the plaque will be fixed, Geoff Wood, The Mayor of Wakefield, Councillor Tracey Austin, and Councillor Mrs Betty Rhodes, chair of the Balne Lane Centre who welcomed the Society’s guests to the event.

Blue Plaque to Ann Clarkson unveiled

At an event hosted by the Mayor of Wakefield, Councillor Tracey Austin, at Wakefield Town Hall the Society unveiled its latest blue plaque in the Forgotten Women of Wakefield series.

The event, which took place on Friday, 19th November, was organised by Dream Time Creative (the lead organisation and inspiration behind the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project) and was attended my members of the Society, members of the public and members of the Clarkson family who came together to hear about the research that had been undertaken by Dream Time Creative into the history of Ann Clarkson (1800-1888).

Ann had been instrumental in establishing a local society for the prevention of cruelty to animals in 1836 (subsumed into the RSPCA in 1869). As well as her efforts to improve the care and treatment of animals, Ann was also moved to help alleviate the suffering of the poor and sick.

Her efforts were recognised by the people of Wakefield who raised funds to install a water fountain and trough close to her home at Westgate End. The fountain and trough was later moved to the entrance of Clarence Park on Denby Dale Road where it can still be seen.

You can find out more about the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project on their website here. (You can also contact Dream Time Creative on hello@dreamtimecreative.org

Photos below by Jessica Rowbottom and reproduced here courtesy of Dream Time Creative.

Members of the public watching a presentation by Sarah Cobham and Helga of Dream Time Creative about the life and times of Ann Clarkson.
Sarah Cobham and Helga Fox discussing the Ann Clarkson story
Mayor of Wakefield Councillor Tracy Austin with two members of the Clarkson family just after the blue plaque was unveiled.
Clarkson family members Fiona Puller and Annette Yeoman with the Mayor of Wakefield, Councillor Tracey Austin

Wakefield Civic Society supports Wakefield City of Culture 2025 bid

Wakefield Civic Society has confirmed it is backing the bid for Wakefield to be named UK City of Culture 2025.

In a letter dated 9th July 2021 which will be included with the bid papers submitted by the Council, Civic Society President Kevin Trickett MBE set out the Society’s rationale for offering its backing. Addressed to Sir Phil Redmond, the Chair of the Expert Advisory Panel for the UK City of Culture Programme, the letter says:

I am writing to offer the Society’s wholehearted support for the bid to name Wakefield as City of Culture 2025.

To many, Wakefield is like a best kept secret – its talents hidden, even among some local residents. But for those of us who know, it is actually home to a diverse and burgeoning group of creative and cultural individuals, businesses and organisations and we think it’s time that secret was shared more widely. We want to tell the rest of the UK and, indeed, the world, about what Wakefield has to offer!

Wakefield, both as the city and the wider district of which it is part, has a fascinating history going back well over 1,000 years. That history provides a rich source of stories, ideas and inspiration for local artists. It also shapes the character of our citizens who are undeniably proud of this shared heritage.

Increasingly, local people from all walks of life have been able to explore their creativity and enjoy cultural activities via a myriad cultural organisations, events and programmes, and organisations and businesses are beginning to recognise the potential on our doorstep.

While we have long-established cultural venues such as the Theatre Royal Wakefield, the National Trust’s Nostell Priory, the Hepworth Wakefield gallery, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the National Coal Mining Museum for England, to name just a few, newer organisations are moving here too: the success of Production Park at South Kirkby and the opening next year of Tileyard North at the Wakefield Waterfront are but two examples.

Wakefield is also increasingly recognised as a place to learn about the performing arts. We have Theatre Royal’s Performance Academy, Wakefield College’s Performing Arts Centre and also CAPA College, the latter soon to move into new, purpose-built premises.

Meanwhile, we have a community of many individuals and independent arts organisations (as well as volunteer-led groups such as the Society), all contributing to the city’s growing creative and cultural economy. Working quietly away, often unassuming, but yet delivering incredible results.

There is, however, much more we could do.

Wakefield today feels like a city ‘on the cusp’, emerging from its cocoon as it transitions into a city that has both the confidence and vision to engage on the national and even international stage. We want to demonstrate to others that we are a great city with a great offer; a great place in which to live, to work, to relax and to do business. And, of course, we believe that Wakefield is a great place to visit! At the Society, we often show Wakefield off to visitors from outside the area and they are always impressed – once we manage to coax them to come and see for themselves.

Just submitting a bid to become UK City of Culture 2025 will bring local people together from across the district.  We want to go even further though and show others from outside the area what we have; we want to shout our stories from the rooftops. We believe that winning the bid will be transformational!

We support Wakefield City of Culture 2025.

Blue Plaque News

We continue to work on our blue plaque programme, responding to nominations as we they come in.

As we receive quite a few nominations each year, our guiding rule is that for nominations to be taken forward, they should come with funding, or an offer to help raise the necessary funds that we would need. The cost of plaques continues to rise and, allowing for delivery, fixing in place and VAT, the cost of each plaque is now in the region of £550. If you wish to make a nomination for a new blue plaque, please complete our nomination form which can be downloaded from our Blue Plaques page here.

Last year, we received a request from The Rotary Club of Wakefield for a blue plaque to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their first meeting of the club which was held at the Strafford Arms on 3rd June 1921. (The Strafford Arms you see today is a new building but on the same site as the earlier building.)

As the request came with the offer of funding to cover the cost of the plaque, we were delighted to work with members of the Rotary Club in to produce the plaque which has now been unveiled and erected on the Strafford Arms. Our thanks to the Rotary Club and also to the manager of the Strafford Arms who gave permission for the plaque to go on the building.

Rotary Club President Stuart Livesey with Civic Society President Kevin Trickett. Photo – Alison Sykes

The new blue plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Wakefield

We have also been working on our contribution to the Westgate Historic High Street Heritage Action Zone.

As part of that contribution, we have agreed to put up new plaques and restore some of the existing ones that were beginning to look rather tired. To date, we have unveiled one new plaque (to Ann Hurst) and refurbished two old ones (Union Bank and HSBC).

Ann Hurst

The plaque to Ann Hurst, Wakefield’s first female newspaper proprietor and a campaigner against slavery, was delivered by Dream Time Creative as part of their Forgotten Women of Wakefield Project. As part of our partnership with Dream Time Creative, we are seeking to bring about #blueplaqueparity in Wakefield, i.e., to increase the number of blue plaques we have put up to women so that they equal the number we have up to men.

This plaque was financed by the Westgate Historic High Street Heritage Action Zone project which is jointly funded by Wakefield Council and Historic England. The plaque will go on the side of the NatWest Bank branch at 56 Westgate, just inside Woolpack’s Yard. We are grateful to NatWest for giving their permission for the plaque to be affixed to their building.

Find out more about the Forgotten Women of Wakefield Project here.

You can also watch a video about the life of Ann Hurst, funded by Arts Council England and created by Dream Time Creative on our special Vimeo page about the Heritage Action Zone.

The blue plaque to Ann Hurst

HSBC – Wakefield’s Wool Market

We first put the blue plaque to commemorate the location of Wakefield’s wool market on the front of what was then the Midland Bank, now HSBC, in 2000. Some twenty years later, the plaque was looking rather sorry for itself and much in need of a refresh. We approached HSBC who agreed to pay for the plaque to be refurbished and it is now back in situ on the front of the bank building. Our thanks to HSBC for their help and support.

Wakefield Wool Market blue plaque on HSBC

Another plaque that has recently received a refresh, albeit before the Heritage Action Zone project started, is the one on what is today Union Bank, the recently restored and refurbished building that was erected for the Wakefield and Barnsley Union Bank at 57-59 Westgate. The building was acquired by Craft Union Pub Company, part of Enterprise Inns, and the company spent an estimated £1M on the project. Our plaque, which gave details of the building’s original purpose and architect had been damaged by a previous owner who had commissioned cleaning of the front of the building, a process which not only removed the dirt from the stonework but also all the enamel from the plaque, rendering it beyond economical repair.

We were delighted, therefore, when the Craft Union Pub Company agreed to pay for the plaque to be replaced with a new plaque and this is now in place on the front of the building.

The blue plaque commemorating the Wakefield and Barnsley Union Bank building.