Yorkshire castle removed from ‘at risk’ register thanks to 10-year repair programme

The castle ruins, which date back to 1070, have been taken off the ‘at risk’ register for the first time since 2003.

A castle in Yorkshire has been removed from the ‘at risk’ register, thanks to extensive repair work.

Plans for a multi-million-pound project to restore Pontefract Castle began 10 years ago and work was completed last week. Historic England has since been removed from the castle from the at risk register.

The castle, which dates back to 1070, was deemed to be at risk in 2003 due to the poor condition of the ruins. Wakefield Council launched the £5 million ‘Key to the North’ project, backed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to protect the castle from further damage.

The work involved stabilising structures, opening areas not seen for hundreds of years and conserving and protecting the ruins of the monument.

‘One of the key aims of the project was the removal of the castle from the at risk register, so this is a very exciting day for all of us,’ said councillor Peter Box. ‘It is the culmination of years of work by the council and its partners and I am delighted at our achievement.

‘However, our work doesn’t stop here. We have agreed a management and maintenance plan to continue to look after the castle going forward and to ensure it remains in a good state of repair.’

Changes to the monument include removal of masses of vegetation, which has revealed much more of the castle ruins, installing a new bandstand, paths, steps and a viewing platform above the Swillington Tower. A new visitor centre has also been built, complete with cafe and shop.

Neil Redfern, principal inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, added that he was ‘delighted’ the castle could be removed from the at risk register.

‘The extensive programme of repair works has made it structurally sound and increased accessibility to parts of the site, while the new visitor centre, engaging signage and extensive events programme has transformed the castle into a major tourist attraction and a well-used local amenity,’ he said.

The Key to the North project has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Wakefield Council, the Wolfson Foundation and landfill charity EpaC.