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Wakefield and the five towns – Part Five; Castleford


Wakefield and the five towns

The City of Wakefield is a local government district of West Yorkshire, England, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough. Wakefield is the district’s administrative centre. The district includes the “Five Towns” of Normanton, Pontefract, Featherstone, Castleford and Knottingley. Other towns include Ossett, Hemsworth, South Kirkby & Moorthorpe and South Elmsall. Wakefield lies between Leeds and Sheffield and is ranked as the 87th largest city in the European Union. In 2010, Wakefield was named as the UK’s third ‘most musical’ City by PRS for Music

Profile on Castleford

Castleford is one of the five towns within the metropolitan borough of the City of Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, England. It is near to Pontefract, and has a population of 37,525 according to the 2001 Census. To the north the River Calder joins the River Aire and the Aire and Calder Navigation canal. To the west and south is the M62 motorway.

Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Castleford and its surroundings have provided archaeological evidence of Roman activity.


Hickson and Welch was a major employer in Castleford until its closure in the early 2000s.

Castleford is built upon the site of a Roman army settlement that was named Lagentium or Legioleum. Funeral urns dating from the time of the Romans have been found there. The modern name of the town is derived from the fort, Castle (referring to the fort) and Ford (a low crossing point through a river).

Queens Park in Castleford, as viewed from Google earth, shows two circles on the top playing field area, which could be the remnants of round houses used by early Anglo Saxons. Standing over 250 feet above sea level, it is thought that the area which is Queens Park today would have offered a defensive view of the settlement.

Oliver Cromwell (1597–1659), had a local encampment in nearby Ferrybridge. It is said locally that his cannon faced towards Pontefract Castle from the nearby Redhill Retail Park.

From 1630 until his deprivation during the Interregnum, the Rector of Ackworth was the Reverend Thomas Bradley, DD (Oxon), who attended King Charles the I of England at his execution.

The periphery of the town, the town centre and other places in the town have undergone extensive refurbishment and regeneration over the last five years. Some of the improvements were featured in a recent television series on Channel 4, called Kevin McCloud And The Big Town Plan.

Castleford grew significantly in the 19th century, with collieries opening in Glasshoughton, Whitwood, Methley and Wheldale (1868-1987)[1] all of which closed in the 20th century. The opening of Ferrybridge power station and Kellingley Colliery in neighbouring Knottingley have kept employment in the Castleford area, whilst the many warehouses and distribution centres in Glasshoughton continue to provide employment.

Castleford has frequently featured as the fictional town of “Denton” in ITV’s A Touch of Frost, starring David Jason, often using local businesses and staff as extras.


Arms of the former Castleford Borough Council

Castleford Civic Centre

Castleford was established as an urban district, in administrative county of the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1894 under the Local Government Act 1894, with an urban district council. Whitwood and Glasshoughton were added to the district in the 1930s. The urban district was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1955. Following the Local Government Act 1972, the municipal borough was abolished on April 1, 1974, with its territory becoming an unparished area of the City of Wakefield, a metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire. The town is covered by three wards: Whitwood, Castleford Central and Glasshoughton, and Airedale and Ferry Fryston.

The local MP is Yvette Cooper for Pontefract and Castleford.


Xscape in the Glasshoughton area of Castleford

The town is home to Burberry, the clothing manufacturer and retailer. The company has two factories in the UK – the one in Castleford makes the firm’s signature raincoats, including its Pink Leather Trench Coat, modelled by Kate Moss. Nestlé has a factory on Wheldon Road, near the Castleford Tigers’ ground, making popular sweets like Toffee Crisp, After Eight as well as former favourites like Cabana, Texan, Novo, Montego and Nestlé Crunch bars (not the chocolate ones). Allinson‘s Queen’s Mill is the world’s largest traditional stonegrinding mill[2], but is now part of the large Allied Mills company.

Some areas of Castleford are poor and run down. In part, this is because of the closure of the town and its surrounding area’s collieries in the 1980s and 90s. Official male unemployment rates reached 20% in the mid-1980s. According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2000, Castleford Ferry Fryston ward falls today within the top 5% of most deprived wards in England. According to the Child Poverty Index, over 45% of 0-16 year olds living in Castleford are living in families claiming means tested benefits.

Despite a decline in industries such as coal mining and textile manufacturing, significant economic and employment growth has occurred in recent years in service sectors, especially in the retail and distribution sectors. This includes the Junction 32 Outlet village (formerly known as Freeport) and Xscape leisure complex, Europe’s largest indoor real snow slope, which has turned the periphery of the town in to one of the most popular destinations for UK skiing and snowboarding. Such developments have taken place because of the town’s easy motorway accessibility and twenty-minute rail connection to the regional city of Leeds. Distribution companies include TK Maxx, HI Group Plc, Tibbett & Britten Ltd and Argos Distributors Ltd.

Carlton Street

This is just one of many economic developments in the town, including new retail and residential development, an architect-designed library and art museum and a new bus/rail transport interchange planned to be completed by 2010.[3]

Development is founded upon a strong sense of identity rooted in the town’s heritage. For example, Castleford has one of the districts most historic parks – Queens Park on Ferrybridge Road – built to commemorate Queen Victoria‘s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. A resident Friends of the Park group have managed since 1998 to transform the fortunes of this park. [1]

Castleford offers the nearest available shopping for residents of the new Allerton Bywater Millennium Community, to the north of the town across the River Aire. This is a development of commercial and community space and over 500 homes, some of which have been built using innovative and modern off-site manufacturing techniques. Allerton Bywater is the second development in a Millennium Community programme, which started with Greenwich Millennium Village at Greenwich Peninsula, London.

Castleford offers a range of shopping outlets such as Carlton Lanes Shopping Centre and a Retail Park and supermarkets including Netto, Co-Operative and Freezer Shops. The most recent new build being a new 24 hour Asda which is situated close to the Xscape complex. The supermarket also has an attached 24 hour self service petrol station.

There are now various restaurants available in Castleford from Chinese Cuisine & Indian cuisine to traditional English pub food.

The town centre night life has declined in recent years with the opening of the new Xscape complex.There are still plenty of pubs open in the town centre however.


Castleford Cratehouse – a public art installation created out of bottle crates

The town is also home to Castleford High School Technology And Sport College; a secondary school for children aged 11–16.

Airedale High School is also situated in a suburb of Castleford. Now known as Airedale High School – The Arts College obtaining this status due to the high standards of performing arts. This is a secondary school for young people aged 11–16.

Castleford also has a College, A new site has been completed for the campus, part of Wakefield College  in Glasshoughton. The old college was demolished in 2009 to make way for new housing.


The Jungle Stadium (Wheldon Road)

Castleford’s favourite sport is rugby league. The local team, Castleford Tigers, were relegated from the UK’s top division, Super League, after the 2006 season, but were promoted back for the 2008 season, after Grand Final victory over the Widnes Vikings. The Tigers play at The Jungle.

The Castleford Tigers rugby league club play in the European Super League. Castleford Tigers main rivals are Leeds Rhinos, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Featherstone Rovers.

From June 1979 to July 1980, Castleford had its own Speedway racing team, The Kings, based at the Greyhound Stadium in Whitwood. The circuit was very short (just 202 yards) and the team never entered the league – only challenge matches were staged.

Daryl Peach, the reigning World Nine-Ball Pool Champion was born in Castleford and his parents still live in the town.

Glasshoughton Welfare play in the Northern Counties East League, Fryston Colliery Welfare used to be members of this league until they had to leave in 1991 due to ground grading problems. Back in the 1920s, Castleford Town played in the Midland League alongside clubs like Doncaster Rovers, Chesterfield, Scunthorpe United, Halifax Town, Leeds United (for 1919-20 season only), Lincoln City and Mansfield Town. This league also contained the reserve sides of Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Nottingham Forest, Grimsby Town and Hull City. In 1920, Castleford reached the 2nd round of the FA Cup, losing 2-3 at Bradford Park Avenue. Castleford played at Wheldon Road, when they shut down, the ground was taken over by the rugby league team.

Notable people

The sculptor Henry Moore was born in Castleford, the son of a miner. He attended [Half-Acres Junior and Infants school] before later attending Castleford High School some of his work can be seen at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton.

Sir John Harman, former Chairman of the UK Environment Agency was born in the town.

In the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? it was revealed that the ancestors of writer and broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson lived in Castleford and ran a factory producing Kilner pottery.

Viz Comic of Newcastle has two contributors from Castleford – Andy Hepworth and Carl Hollingsworth. One of Viz comics main artists is Pontefract’s Simon Thorp.

Novelist Peter Robinson was born in Castleford

Writer and creator of Bill & Ben the flower pot men, Hilda Wright, was born and lived in Castleford.

Author Valerie Wood, was born and raised in Castleford until the age of 13.

Pools winner Viv Nicholson, famous for her “spend, spend, spend” quote was born and still lives in the Castleford area. Her life story was published in book form, before being turned into a west end play. Viv also appeared on the cover of a smiths single.

World famous composer, poet and actor Richard Stoker, is from the Castleford area. Richard was Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, and also for the editor of composer magazine for 11 years. Richard has had several books of poems and short stories published, as well as a children’s novel.

Source: Wikipedia 2010

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