Wakefield Civic Society Annual Awards Announced

At the Annual General Meeting held at Wakefield Town Hall on the evening of 18th April 2024, the Society announced its annual awards.

Restaurant of the Year Award 2023

The first of the awards to be announced was our Restaurant of the Year Award as voted for by members of our monthly Dining Club. Each month, members meet at a different restaurant in Wakefield and score their experience. At the end of the year, we look at the scores given by members and make our Restaurant of the Year Award.

In 2023, after being paused for over two years because of Covid, Dining Club members met on twelve occassions. The establishment scoring the highest overall mark was Jose’s Tapas Restaurant, Cross Street, Wakefield, which members visited last June.

Our photo, by KRA:FT Media Services, shows Rich and Liz Escribano, son and daughter-in-law of the proprietors, Jose and Spfia Escribano.

Design Awards 2024

Projects to refurbish and repurpose heritage buildings scored highly in the Society’s Design Awards, with work undertaken on the buildings in the Westgate Heritage Action Zone featuring strongly.

The awards, adjudicated on by a panel of judges selected from the Society’s membership, were presented to recipients on behalf of the Society by the Mayor of Wakefield, Councillor Josie Pritchard and were for projects completed, or subtantially completed, during 2023.

Design Awards Results:

In the new-build category, a commendation was given for the new stadium at Wakefield Trinity’s Belle Vue ground (pictured below). The stadium, designed by architects AFL, provides space for 2,500 fans and is part of a wider upgrade of the facilities at Belle Vue. This was the only completely new build project recognised in this year’s awards.

In the Refurbishment category, one Commendation and three Awards were made. The Commendation was given to Harry’s Pizza Bar at 70 Westgate (below). This building, on the corner of Cheapside and dating from around 1800, has undergone extensive refurbishment under the Heritage Action Zone project – a £4M project co-funded by Wakefield Council and Historic England to provide grants of up to 90% to property owners within the Zone. The project saw work being done to the pointing, guttering cornice and roof but, most noticeably, the reinstatement of a new shopfront on the ground floor, significantly enhancing the appearance of the building. Conservation Architect Britt Harwood from Inc.Architecture received the commendation on behalf of the owners.

A second Commendation was given for The Courtyard, 225 Denby Dale Road where a suite of managed offices and meeting rooms has been created from a former mill, once home to Star Knitwear. The building had stood empty for a decade and was in a state of dereliction but the new owners, Madison Properties, have repurposed the building by creating affordable office and co-working spaces for small businesses under the HQ brand.

A Design Award in this category was given to J. D. Wetherspoons for their project to extend their Six Chimneys pub at 41-43 Kirkgate into the former New Dolphin Inn (later known as the Wakefield Pride and the Wakey Tavern). Under a project that had seen the Six Chimneys being closed for five months, the two buildings had brought together into one enlarged pub, unified by a decorative scheme that runs across the properties both inside and out. In addition, a large beer garden has been created in the yard at the rear. The judges were impressed with the quality of execution and also the focus on local history with many illustrations featuring stories of Wakefield’s history on display inside while architectural detailing on the exterior of the New Dolphin building that was previously hidden by signage had been revealed.

A second Design Award was given to the first phase of Tileyard North, the project to convert the former Rutland Mills project on the waterfront into a space for music, media and creative industries. Members of the Society had been shown around the project earlier in the year and liked the imaginative way that the internal spaces had been repurposed and the creation of a central outdoor courtyard that is already being used for events. The project, by City and Provincial Properties brings new life to the waterfront area adjacent to The Hepworth Wakefield, and features a restaurant and bar in the first phase. A second phase is now under construction.

The final Award in this category was made for the refurbishment work undertaken on 6-8 Silver Street. Speaking at the Awards presentation, Society president Kevin Trickett said that this building, above all others, had really become the star of the Westgate Heritage Action Zone project – it was the one that everyone wanted to photograph. Dating from at least 1590, the work on the building has revealed original timbers dating back to the Tudor period and, with the removal of cement rendering, now looks much closer to how it might have looked when first built. Britt Harwood joined the owner Gill Stockham and family to receive the award from the Mayor.

In the best shop front category, another Westgate Heritage Action Zone property was recognised with a Commendation. This went to Hofmann’s, 111-113 Westgate. Although the building, like others on the street, had other work done as part of a larger refurbishment project, the judges particularly like the attention paid to the shop front and the colour and signage scheme selected. The Conservation Architects for this project were Archiecture 1B.

In the category for the best frontage on a Public House, Café/Bar or Restaurant, the judges gave a commendation to After Dark, 65 Westgate. This property had had its grey paint removed to reveal original stonework, and new windows and doors, including the opening up of two doors in the frontage that had previously been converted to windows. Although the project included further work to the rear of the property, in this category, the judges felt that the marked improvement in the façade of the building merited recognition. The Conservation Architect was, once again, Britt Harwood of Inc.Architecture.

The final category, Best Residential (6 units or more) also saw a refurbishment project being recognised with a commendation. This went to Crown Gardens on Batley Road, a development of six new homes, four of which are new build while the remaining two were created from the conversion of the former Crown Public House. Built in the 1930s, the building was last used as a pub some five years ago. While the judges felt it would have been nice to have seen the pub use retained, the reality is that many pubs around the country have been lost in recent years as a result of changing lifestyles and the prevailing economic situation. It is important that redundant buildings are brought back into use as quickly as possible to prevent them deteriorating. Here, the pub has been divided into two 4-bedroomed houses while new family homes have additionally been provided by making use of the former car park and grounds. The architect was John Grainger of JG D Architecture and Design.

The judging panel members, all members of Wakefield Civic Society, were:

  • Angie de Courcy Bower
  • Roger Brown
  • Barry Goodchild
  • Joanne Harrison
  • Lucy Norton
  • Graham Roberts

One final award was made at the discretion of the President. This was a Certificate of Recognition presented to Paul Gwilliam, Wakefield Council’s Project Manager for the Heritage Action Zone project. Mr Trickett said that he had worked closely with Paul during the project and had seen at firsthand how hard Paul had worked to persuade property owners to take part in the scheme and then guide them through the process.

Closing the ceremony, the Mayor congratulated the winners and thanked the Society for hosting the evening.

You can see a selection of photos from the evening in the video below. Photos here were taken for us by Antony de Csernatony of KRA:FT Media Services.