Torch route: Ready for the flame

olympic torch
olympic torch

AFTER being lit by the rays of the sun in Athens, flown to the United Kingdom under the protective guard of footballer David Beckham and already been seen by millions of people on its route to London 2012 - the Olympic Torch will finally arrive in Wakefield.

Back in May it was lit among the ruins of Olympia, the home of the Olympics.

And during the past six weeks the flame which signifies purity, has wound its way through the streets of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland as part of its relay involving 8,000 torchbearers on its way to London for the opening ceremony of the 2012 games.

The games are thought to have begun as part of religious festival more than 2,700 years ago and were held in the honour of Greek God of Kings Zeus, taking place every four years in Olympia.

A sacred flame was lit and would burn throughout the ceremony on the altar of the goddess Hera. Her Heralds were then summoned to travel throughout Greece to relay the announcement of the games, with a sacred truce called across the country during the duration of the games, creating the origins of the torch and relay race.

And on Monday part of that tradition and history will be brought to the district.

A total of 21 torchbearers will carry the flame on a route of 22.5 miles through Wakefield, Castleford, Pontefract and Ackworth.

It is expected to arrive in Wakefield city centre on Wentworth Street just after 11am before being carried past the Town Hall.

Wakefield Council wants people to line the route, which also sees the torch pass Wakefield College, Wakefield County Hall and Wakefield Girls High School.

Council Leader, Peter Box, said: “We encourage crowds to line the streets along the Olympic Torch Relay route to welcome the inspirational torchbearers and celebrate the flame’s journey through Wakefield, Castleford, Pontefract and Ackworth.”

It will then head onto Westmorland Street, past the Cathedral, and onto Kirkgate. Special celebration points have been created at County Hall, the Cathedral and the Hepworth Wakefield for spectators.

The gallery will be open for spectators to welcome the torch as it passes through the garden and over the footbridge at approximately 11.31am. There will be live music and entertainment along with invited school pupils all taking part in the historic event.

Next the torch convoy heads on into Castleford, Pontefract and Ackworth before leaving the region early on Monday afternoon.

SESKU Academy volunteer Charlotte Furlong will carry the torch in Pontefract and Mick Cordall from Hemsworth will carry the torch in Ackworth.

There will be rolling, temporary road closures along the route to prevent disruption. Wood Street will be closed between 11am and 1pm and Thornes Lane, between Ings Road and Thornes Lane Industrial Estates, will be closed between 11.15 and 11.45am.

After eventually visiting 1,019 cities, towns and villages and dropping in at the UK’s most prominent landmarks the torch will arrive in Stratford at the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony, and to mark the official start on July 27, of the Olympic Games 2012.

It will be extinguished during the closing ceremony on Sunday, August 12.

*All timings are approximate and the flame has arrived early or late in some areas and all spectators should take their place on the route from 10am onwards. Live updates of the Torch’s relay through the district will be available on Twitter - follow @MyWakefield and all the details of the relay are available at www.wakefield.gov.uk/torch