Heritage Open Days brings a host of activities to Wakefield this weekend

Every September the Heritage Open Days take place across England with events celebrating our fantastic history, communities and culture. Taking place from 10 – 19 September 2021, this is a unique opportunity to visit hidden places and try out new experiences and this year Wakefield district has loads to offer.

Queen's Mill

Wood Street


On Saturday 18, Castleford Heritage Trust will welcome visitors back to Queen’s Mill, an iconic flour mill with over 1,100 years of history. Visitors can enjoy a community photography exhibition or book onto a Heritage Walk for a gentle stroll along the waterways, a Mill Tour to discover why it was once the world’s largest stoneground flour mill, or indulge in some Children’s Craft Activities with the opportunity to take home a new creation. Partly funded by Wakefield Council, activities will also include a photography competition and video content for digital audiences.

Also on Saturday, join Wakefield Civic Society President, Kevin Trickett MBE as he leads a guided walk uncovering the history and architecture of Wood Street. Hear about how the street developed from a narrow yard to be the main ‘civic’ street of the city and look up to admire the decorative details of some of the most prominent buildings in Wakefield! On Sunday, Kevin is back with another free walking tour looking at art and sculpture visible in and around the city. Uncover details you might never have noticed and discover some of the intriguing artwork that is visible just by strolling around Wakefield’s streets – and sometimes looking up!

Liquorice Fields

Pontefract Town Centre

“Edible Wakefield”

On Sunday 19, those with a sweet tooth can visit the oldest liquorice field and plants in Pontefract, where John Betjeman wrote the poem, ‘Licorice Fields at Pontefract’ thanks to the Pontefract Civic Society. Hear from Tom Dixon as he recounts tales of his and his family’s connection with the plant.

Sticking to the Heritage Open Day theme ‘Edible England’, join Pontefract Civic Society on Sunday for a social distanced walk around Pontefract town centre, the theme of which is Elizabeth Moxon’s 18th century cookbook “English Housewifry”. First published in 1741 and sold in the town, the book is said to be a trailblazer in English culinary writing and an inspiration to others. There is a blue plaque dedicated to Elizabeth in the town and this walk will highlight Pontefract at the time of her writings.

Pontefract Castle Dungeon

National Coal Mining Museum


For the thrill seekers out there, Pontefract Castle is opening its dungeon again (for the first time in nearly 18 months!) on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19.  Don’t miss this chance to discover the history behind one of Pontefract Castle’s most intriguing features – and travel to the past with the help of friendly tour guides.

Also that weekend, The National Coal Mining Museum for England will once again allow access to visitors to see inside the Coal Screens Building – a rare survivor of what was a very common structure across the English coalfields. Learn from a former miner and a Pit Brow Lass about how coal was brought out of the ground and even get an up close look at the last wooden headgear in Europe. You’ll need a good head for heights and be happy with steep and narrow stairs to enjoy this rare opportunity to go behind the scenes and see inside the plant where coal was sorted for nearly 100 years!

Want more?

Head over to our full Heritage Open Days listing to see all events taking place across the district! And for those who want to extend this opportunity to find out more about the district, Wakefield Civic Society is producing a series of heritage related leaflets to ‘Discover Wakefield’. The first focuses on the buildings of Charles Watson, while the second is based on the monuments to women in the city including the water trough at Thornes Park dedicated to Ann Clarkson – Find out more here.

Other guides you may be interested in

The Wheels of Fortunes: Remembering the Coal Industry

Coal has been mined in Wakefield since time immemorial. Find out more about the places that were shaped by coal mining.

The Women Who Shaped Wakefield in Five Historic Hotspots

Discover more about the women who helped shape the direction of the district by perusing five spots within easy reach of the city centre.

Capturing the Crown

In a 30-minute walk from the Chantry Chapel to Sandal Castle, retrace the historic events that ended in the Battle of Wakefield – a brutal power struggle for the crown of England...

Nostell Priory

History & Heritage

From Romans to rhubarb and refined treasures at National Trust Nostell to the toil for “coyl” at the National Coal Mining Museum, uncover a district steeped in history.