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Wakefield and the five towns – Part Four; Featherstone

18/08/2010

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 Featherstone

History

Like many towns in the area, Featherstone grew around coal mining, and was the site of a miners’ strike in 1893.[2] During the strike the town came to national attention when soldiers fired on striking miners, killing two. A distinctive sculpture marking the centenary of the Featherstone Massacre stands in the shopping precinct and a large mural depicting the town’s heritage can be seen at the town’s main crossroads. Ackton Hall Colliery was the first pit to close following the end of the miners’ strike and this could not be contested as geological difficulties had made it impossible for the pit to continue production.

Despite most population growth taking place around the Industrial Revolution, Featherstone traces its history back much further than this. It is thought that a local public house, the Traveller’s Rest, can trace its origins to the 17th century whilst the Jubilee Hotel is a listed building which once provided a resting place for wealthy Victorians and their horses.

Featherstone is undergoing continual change and as part of this a new, state-of-the-art £2.5-million community centre has been built in Station Lane. The “Pit Houses”, the houses constituting a council estate which formerly belonged to the National Coal Board, have been demolished to make room for further developments.

Opened in the 1950s, Purston Park takes up a large area of space and offers a lake and a children’s play area. There was also previously a bowling green, until being changed to a rose garden in 2004. It has been made out of the grounds of what was originally a private residence and a country estate, with the stately home formerly acting as the town hall. This building was sold to developers in 2007 and has since been converted into luxury flats.

Sport

The town is home to a rugby league club, Featherstone Rovers, who have won the Challenge Cup on 3 occasions most recently on May 7, 1983. They are currently in the Championship, after being promoted in 2007, beating Oldham in the Play-Offs final. Originally made up of local miners, the club was formed in the Railway Hotel in 1902, then re-formed in 1906.[3] The Featherstone Rovers stadium (The Lionheart Stadium, traditionally known as Post Office Road) was re-named the “Chris Moyles Stadium”, after the Leeds-based radio DJ, in January 2007. The stadium was again renamed in January 2010 to “The Bigfellas Stadium”, following the completion of a sponsorship deal with Pontefract night club Bigfellas.[4] The amateur side Featherstone Lions also hails from the town.

Religion

Featherstone contains no fewer than five churches: St Thomas’ C of E Church, All Saints’ C of E Church, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church and the South Featherstone Gospel Hall. There is also a chapel which has since been turned into an antiques salesroom and the North Featherstone Gospel Hall that has been converted into a private dwelling. Built from traditional Yorkshire sandstone, St Thomas’ Church and the adjacent vicarage were built in the 1870s. Due to a lack of funding the church has no bell tower, and instead the bell hangs outside on the church’s south wall. The vicarage is now a private residence.

Education

The town has two secondary schools: Featherstone Technology College and St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and Language College. St. Wilfrid’s has recently earned a new “vocational specialists” title.

Primary schools include St. Thomas Junior, Girnhall Infants and North Featherstone Junior and Infants School

Politics

Featherstone is part of the Hemsworth constituency, and is represented by Labour MP Jon Trickett in the House of Commons.

At local elections, 3 Independent candidates were elected in the 2004 District Elections ending over 100 years of Labour control. Following Labour’s defeat at Wakefield District Council, twelve Independent candidates were put forward for election onto the Town Council in 2007, eight were elected, which made Featherstone an Independent-controlled Town Council. In August 2008 the Leader of the Independent Town Council resigned and a by-election was held which resulted in Labour returning a Town Councillor. A further by-election took place in March 2010 after an Independent councillor had failed to attend council for a period of time long enough to trigger a by-election and Labour made a second gain on the council resulting in a hung council. (6 Lab 6 IND). At a hearing of the Adjudication Panel of England in Wakefield on the 6th January 2010 the Independent councillor Roy Bickerton was suspended from being a Councillor for the rest of his term of office at Wakefield District Council. He was subsequently heavily defeated by Labour’s Dick Taylor in the District Council election in May 2010, receiving only 21% of the vote.

Source: Wikipedia 2010

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