Pontefract Castle's new visitor centre draws crowds to £3.5m project

A NEW visitor centre at Pontefract Castle welcomed almost 2,000 visitors in the first four days after it opened as a £3.5m project to regenerate the historic site nears completion.

Coun Jacquie Speight in the new visitor centre
Coun Jacquie Speight in the new visitor centre

The new centre has been developed from an old arts and crafts barn and includes a cafe, shop, and museum showing artefacts including siege coins and a carriage wheel which have been unearthed in the town.

It is part of a £3.5m Key to the North project to carry out out conservation work and improve access to parts of the castle site not seen by the public for many years, including the Sally Port.

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The project has been funded with a £3.04m National Lottery grant with other contributions from Historic England, Wakefield Council, the Wolfson Foundation and landfill charity EPaC.

Pontefract Castle.

Coun Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “We’ve had a great response to the opening of the new visitor centre, and I am so pleased there’s already been so much interest.

“Since opening on Thursday and up to and including Sunday we welcomed 1,970 visitors, which shows many people are keen to get involved in this fantastic new community resource.

“The old derelict arts and crafts barn has been beautifully restored and given a modern extension. We can now offer an activity zone for school learning sessions, meetings, craft activities and so on.

“In addition there are modern toilets and a baby changing facility, a welcoming shop that offers visitors information about other nearby attractions, a museum space and a café with indoor and outdoor seating.”

Pontefract Castle.

Anthony Hegney, Director of Asparagus Green, who will be running The Liquorice Café at the new visitor centre, said: “We will be focusing on the best of Yorkshire produce, with a hint of liquorice wherever possible, in recognition of the historic significance of the plant to the town.”