Blue plaques will honour townsfolk

A blue plaque scheme to celebrate the work of the people of Pontefract could be expanded with the help of fundraisers.

Pontefract Civic Society plans to honour more people in the town through its ‘blue plaque’ programme.

And it is wanting sponsors to come forward to fund new plaques, marking the achievements of local people.

Chairman of the group Paul Cartwright said: “Most of the current blue plaques in the town recognise the importance of street names and buildings, though few have been erected for Pontefract people.

“We have already researched dozens of local writers, artists, inventors, business people and many more.

“It would be great to have their importance recognised and shared with local people and visitors through a new blue plaque trail.”

There are currently around 30 blue plaques on display in Pontefract, but the civic society hopes to increase that number and create a heritage trail.

Mr Cartwright said: “There is a fair number of people who have through the generations created and produced all sorts of things and their stories are definitely worth sharing through the blue plaque scheme.

“People do not know the stories of these people and that there is that history here.

“And it would be fantastic to see people learning about that history through the blue plaque trail.”

Among the people who have been honoured with a Pontefract blue plaque are brothers Fred and Peter Asquith.

A commemorative plaque lies at the location - on Horsefair - where the brothers opened their first store in Pontefract in 1958.

Within five years they had a chain of self-service supermarkets and in 1965, they merged with Associated Dairies to form popular supermarket chain Asda.

The civic society hopes that local businesses or individual sponsors will come forward to help them fund the plaque scheme.

And they are also interested in speaking to any volunteers who would be willing to help them secure grant money for the purchase and installation of plaques for the project.

To sponsor a new plaque, contact Mr Cartwright on 01977 708658, or email chairman@pontefractcivicsociety.org.uk

People can also send in suggestions about people and places that they feel should be recognised.

These are just some of the places in the town which have been recognised with a plaque:

- Gate House of the barracks of the Pontefract Corps of the West Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers, built around 1851

- The town hall, built in 1785, which served as council chambers, Magistrates’ court, prison , fire station and public hall, and the assembly rooms built in 1882

- Site of the college and hospital of the Holy Trinity, founded in 1385

- All Saints, the ancient parish church of Pontefract

- Merchant’s warehouse, where the Mayor of Pontefract lived between 1565 and 1601

- The site of the small cobblers shops at Shoemarket, which were first recorded in 1258

- Buttercross, founded in 1734 to shelter people selling dairy produce

- The Red Lion Hotel, one of the oldest established inns in Pontefract