Sometimes when you walk through Pontefract town centre you can smell the delicious aroma of sweets being made. Yum! Visit Pontefract Museum and discover the long history of sweet making in the town, with its roots in liquorice! (Pun intended). The museum also tells the story of Pontefract and the people who have lived, worked and played there. Discover the history of Pontefract Castle from the construction of a wooden fort after the Battle of Hastings to its demolition by public request after the last siege of the Civil War. You can also find out how the town of Pontefract grew, thanks to the barracks, coal mine and liquorice manufacture. Pontefract Museum was built in 1904 as a Carnegie public library in the art nouveau style; this building still has many of the original fittings. Beautiful tiles decorate the entrance and staircase, with intricate door handles and matching chairs. If you like the art nouveau style then this building is unmissable. Art Nouveau was based on natural forms and curved lines, found in plants and flowers. Pontefract Museum is a great example of this with beautiful plant motifs and grand curves.
Pontefract was centre stage in August 1872 when this ballot box was used for the first secret ballot in Britain to elect a Member of Parliament. It was the first time that people had voted in secret by placing an 'X' on a ballot paper next to the name of their choice - the system that we now take for granted. It represents a huge change in the way elections were arranged. Before the Ballot Act of 1872 those lucky enough to vote, had to declare their choice in public. This system was open to bribery and intimidation. The box is still marked with the wax seals used to ensure the votes were not tampered with. The seal was made with a liquorice stamp, used to make Pontefract cakes from a local liquorice factory. Knottingley became a centre of glass-making in Victorian Times and the area continues to produce glass today. Pontefract Museum is home to an incredible collection of Bagley’s glass. Bagley’s heyday was the period between the world wars (1918-1939) when the firm became a leader in inexpensive domestic pressed glassware. This was achieved by its wide range of products, experiments with coloured glass, expanding domestic and foreign markets, and a Royal seal of approval.
The Ackworth Hoard was found buried in a garden in Ackworth last year inside a pot made locally in Wrenthorpe. It is made up of 52 gold and 539 silver coins and a single gold ring. Dating to the Civil War, it is the only hoard known from the Wakefield district and has a distinct Royalist association. Pontefract Museum is on one level and is fully wheelchair accessible. A disabled toilet is available. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : 5 Salter Row, Pontefract, West Yorkshire WF8 1BA
Transport: Pontefract Tanshelf (National Rail) 1/2 mile. Bus Routes : 134, 144, 147, 183, 187, 410, 411 and P2 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Monday to Friday - 10:30 to 16:30.
Opening Times : Saturday - 10:00 to 16:30.
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 01977 722740