Kirkgate the new gateway to the city - station reopening marks start of £38m regeneration scheme

Kirkgate 2015
Kirkgate 2015

Kirkgate Railway station will officially open next week after a £5.6m restoration project initiated by the Express.

The Grade II listed station, which first opened in 1840, has been brought back to its former glory in a two year project led by environmental charity Groundwork.

Kirkgate Railway Station, Wakefield

Kirkgate Railway Station, Wakefield

The renovation followed the award-winning Express Staff our Station campaign, which called on politicians and rail bosses to take action at the dilapidated station.

We took action after reporting a series of brutal attacks at the station including assault, robbery and the horrific rape of a female passenger in the subway.

And we decided that commuters needed to, and had the right, to feel safe.

It was backed by thousands of our readers, local councillors and politicians including the former secretary of state for transport, Lord Andrew Adonis, who called Kirkgate “the worst medium to large station in Britain” in 2009.

neglect at Kirkgate railway station Jan. 2001

neglect at Kirkgate railway station Jan. 2001

Representatives from partner organisations who have helped to fund the station’s redevelopment, including Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box and government transport minister Andrew Jones, will visit the station on Monday to officially open it.

Coun Box said: “The Wakefield Express campaign was definitely a catalyst for change at Kirkgate.

“The Express drew attention to the unacceptable issues at the station and gave a real impetus for the investment and improvements which have taken place.

“I am proud of what we, our partners and the Express have achieved for the city and our residents.”

neglect at Kirkgate railway station Jan. 2001

neglect at Kirkgate railway station Jan. 2001

The new building also includes a cafe, retail space, offices, meeting rooms for local businesses and incubation units for start-up organisations.

Coun Box said: “Kirkgate provides an impressive gateway to this part of the city.

“The new look station not only provides a much improved experience for rail users but is a crucial element of the area’s regeneration.

“I am confident that this will boost the investment and economic potential in Kirkgate and help further revitalise this area of the city.”

Kirkgate Station

Kirkgate Station

Peter Cooper, deputy chair of Groundwork Wakefield added: “We are proud to have led this project with support from our partners.

“This inspirational building will change the lives of passengers, local residents and businesses.

“We are currently supporting businesses to establish themselves in the station building and have made significant progress in securing tenants.

“We are confident the building will be a hive of activity by the end of the year.”

The upgraded station is the first phase of a £27m development programme to be invested in Kirkgate over the next five years and marks the start of £38m of future regeneration for the southern part of the city.

Other projects designed to enhance the city’s image, boost the economy and bring new facilities to the district include the construction of the new West Yorkshire Archive building on Kirkgate, due to be completed next Spring, a new highways network in the area and the Wakefield Waterfront development.

Kirkgate Station

Kirkgate Station

So far the council has completed a programme of selective demolition at the Rutland’s Mills complex which will allow the final phase of regeneration on the site.

Coun Denise Jeffery, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Skills at Wakefield Council said: “Regeneration continues to be a priority for us as we drive forward investment in our district.

“As the property market is starting to improve it is important that the council is playing a key part in the city’s regeneration enabling these exciting schemes to move forward, enhancing the city’s image, creating a boost to the local economy and bringing new facilities and jobs to the district.

“We want Wakefield to be a great place for people to live, work and invest in. These plans will continue to support out long terms goals to make the district a thriving hub of activity for everyone to enjoy.”

6th July 2011.   Wakefield Kirkgate Railway Station.

6th July 2011. Wakefield Kirkgate Railway Station.

Ground breaking ceremony at Kirkgate Station as �4.5m project gets underway thanks to the award winning Express Staff Our Station campaign. (W523G339)

Ground breaking ceremony at Kirkgate Station as �4.5m project gets underway thanks to the award winning Express Staff Our Station campaign. (W523G339)

Kirkgate 1905

Kirkgate 1905