Wakefield is a city in Yorkshire. It overlooks the River Calder and lies on the eastern edge of the Pennines. It has a population of more 99,000, and is twined with the following towns and cities: Alfeld (Germany), Belgorod (Russia), Castres (France), Castrop-Rauxel (Germany), Girona (Spain), Henin-Beaumont (France), Herne (Germany) and Konin (Poland).
The name Wakefield has various origins. Some say it’s an adaption of “Waca’s Field”; others believe it may derive from the Old English word “wacu”, meaning “a wake or watch”.
During the Industrial Revolution, Wakefield was an affluent market town and port specialising in the trading of grain and wool. A number of large warehouses were built in the town and served the purposes of storing grain received from places like Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. Huge quantities of barley were also grown in the town.
Much of town’s market was developed around the Bull Ring, and the cattle market between Ings Road and George Street was transformed into the biggest in the country. As Wakefield’s markets expanded, so too did its transport connections. Regular mail coaches began departing from town, and, in 1840, the railways arrived in Wakefield with the opening of Kirkgate station.
As cloth dealing declined, Wakefield instead turned its attention to wool spinning. A number of wool spinning mills were opened up in the town, and were congregated mainly along the river. Other new businesses at the time included a glass works on Calder Vale Road, an engineering works, various breweries and a brickyards - all of which helped diversify Wakefield’s economy.
In the 19th century, Wakefield became as an administrative hub for West Riding. Numerous familiar buildings were constructed including the court house and the first civic building in Wood Street. The 1970s and 1980s saw the end of Wakefield’s glass and textile industries, with the closure of coal mines around the town.
Today, Wakefield is a diverse, metropolitan city home to many shops and places of interest. In recent years the city has experienced regeneration with the extension of the railway and the creation of new jobs. Points of interest include the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Newmillderdam Country Park, Theatre Royal, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Other attractions include Wakefield Cathedral, The Hepworth Wakefield and Pugneys Country Park.
Wakefield connects to various motorways including the M1 and M62. It also adjoins the A61, A638 and A642 roads. Westfield Kirkgate is the city’s main train station and offers services to Barnsley, Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham and Castleford. The city is also served by a network of buses. The closest airport to Wakefield is Leeds Bradford International Airport, at roughly 19 miles away.
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