Third phase of historic work gets underway

Wakefield Council is bringing the past back to life as works begin to restore traditional cobbles on another city centre street.

The work is being carried out to restore the road at Thompson Yard under Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) programme.

It is the third phase of a scheme funded by Wakefield Council and Historic England to renovate Upper Westgate’s historic features. The work will see traditional cobbles laid along the lane leading to Thompson Yard off Westgate, bringing a part of the past back to life, for people to enjoy now and in the future. New up lighters will also be embedded in the road surface to make the space welcoming.

Thompson Yard is best known as the former home of the 19th novelist George Gissing where a small museum dedicated to his life. According to The Gissing Trust – Wakefield Historical Society  the prolific writer who produced 23 novels is Wakefield’s most renowned novelist.

Similar work will take place in alleyways leading to Barstow Square, and Woolpacks Yard this year.  This follows completion of works last year of phase 1 at Carter Street and phase 2 of Cheapside.

Mark Lynam, Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Growth, said:

“It is very important to preserve and restore the areas surrounding to complement the work on the historic buildings, which together help to reflect the character of our district and the many stories it has to tell.

“The third phase supports our overarching aim which is to breathe new life into our city’s historic streets and buildings. Through this project, we can also ensure our city’s stories and heritage are enjoyed and celebrated. The project also supports the district’s economy as we continue our recovery from Covid-19.” 

The Council has received £1.9million from Historic England which it has match funded to enable it to make almost £4million worth of investment into renovating Upper Westgate’s historic buildings, and adjacent yards and ginnels. The funding will also be used for exciting new cultural events and celebrations in the future.

The project supports Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) initiative to support the heart of the city, encourage businesses to the area and create new jobs.

The majority of the funds of the £4million project will focus on making grants available of up to 90% to owners of historic properties within the Conservation Area to carry out high quality repairs and to bring internal spaces back into use. At least 20 buildings will be restored, for both residential and business use.

The programme of work will also involve cultural and community activities to engage owners and members of the public with the rich and fascinating history, and will involve working with Wakefield Civic Society, Wakefield Historical Society, and other community partners.

Notes to Editors

About Historic England

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.  We fundraise from individuals, charitable trusts and foundations and public sector bodies to enable us to deliver those aspects of our work that are not funded by our Government grant.

About Heritage Action Zones

Historic England is working with local people and partners through grant funding and sharing our skills to help breathe new life into high streets that are rich in heritage and full of promise – unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. The High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme, backed by government funding, aims to help with the recovery of local high streets from regenerating historic buildings to helping to engage local communities through art and cultural projects.