town yorkshire west riding
WAKEFIELD, a municipal and parliamentary borough and market-town of England, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, of which division it is the shire-town, is pleasantly situated on the Calder, and on the Lancashire and Yorkshire, Great Northern, and North-Eastern Railway lines, 9 miles south of Leeds and 175,i miles from London. It has water communication (via Goole) with Hull by the Calder, which also communicates with the Lancashire canals. The streets are spacious•; and, if the town has a somewhat old-fashioned appearance, and is less regularly built than several of the other large towns in Yorkshire, it enjoys the advantage of an atmosphere less polluted by smoke. The Calder is crossed by a fine bridge of eight arches, on which stands the chantry of St Mary, a beautiful Gothic structure, 30 feet long by 24 feet wide, endowed by Edward IV. in memory of his father Richard, duke of York, killed at the battle of Wakefield in 1460 ; it was restored in 1847 at a cost of £3000. The parish church of All Saints, consecrated by Archbishop William de Melton in 1329, but almost wholly rebuilt in the 15th century, is a beautiful building, partly Early English and partly Perpendicular, consisting of chancel, nave, and tower surmounted by a fine spire rebuilt in 1860-61, the total height being 247 feet. The whole building was restored in 1857-86 from designs of the late Sir Gilbert Scott, at a cost of about £30,000. The other churches are without special interest. The Elizabethan grammar school founded in 1592 was rebuilt in 1829; it is now regulated by a scheme formed by the charity commissioners. Among the principal public buildings of Wakefield are the corn exchange, erected in 1837, enlarged in 1862, and including a public concert-room ; the town-hall, in the French Renaissance style, opened in 1880 at a cost of £80,000; the large prison for the West Riding of Yorkshire ; the West Riding sessions house ; the borough police station (1879) ; the office of probate (1863) ; the mechanics' institution, with large library ; the church institute and library ; the fine art institution ; and the public baths. The benevolent institutions include the Clayton hospital, built on the pavilion system, opened in 1879 at a cost of £25,000, and the West Riding pauper lunatic asylum, with accommodation for upwards of 1400 patients. Formerly Wakefield was the great emporium of the cloth manufacture in Yorkshire, but it has within the present century been superseded in this respect by Leeds. Foreign weavers of cloth were established at Wakefield by Henry VII.; and Leland, writing in the time of Henry VIII., states that its " whole profit standeth by coarse drapery." During the 18th century it became noted for the manufacture of worsted yarn and woollen stuffs. Although its manufacturing importance is now small in comparison with that of several other Yorkshire towns, it possesses large mills for spinning worsted and carpet yarns, cocoa fibre, and China grass. It has also rag-crushing mills, chemical works, soap-works, and ironworks ; and there are a large number of collieries in the neighbourhood. Wakefield is the chief agricultural town in the West Riding, and has one of the largest corn-markets in the north of England. It possesses large agricultural implement and machine works, corn and flour mills, malt-works, and breweries. A large trade in corn is carried on by means of the Calder, and the building of boats for inland navigation is also a considerable industry. There are very extensive market-gardens in the neighbourhood. Wakefield is the seat of the court of probate for the Wakefield district. It is governed by a mayor, eight aldermen,, and twenty-four councillors. The erection of a new diocese of Wakefield was sanctioned in 1878, and the first bishop was appointed in February 1888. The population of the municipal and parliamentary borough (area 1553 acres) in 1871 was 28,069, and in 1881 it was 30,854. By the Act of 1885 the parliamentary borough was enlarged by the addition of the suburb of Bellevue.
Wakefield is supposed by some to occupy the site of a Romau station. In Domesday the name occurs as Wackefield. Originally it consisted of three hamlets - Nortligate, Kirkgate, and Westgate. The manor of Wakefield soon after the Conquest was granted to William, third earl of Warren. It formed an extensive baronial liberty extending westwards to the borders of Lancashire and Cheshire. On the death without male issue (30th June 1347) of John, eighth earl of Warren, it reverted to the crown, and by Edward III. it was given to his fifth son, Edward de Langley, whom lie created earl of Cambridge, and who in the reign of Richard II. was created duke of York. After the battle of Wakefield in 1460 it remained in the possession of the crown till the reign of Charles I., who granted it to Henry, earl of Holland. It became the marriage portion of the earl's daughter when she married Sir Gervaise Clifton of Clifton in the county of Nottingham. About 1663 Sir Gervaise Clifton sold it to Sir Christopher Clapham, whose heirs in the year 1760 sold it to the duke of Leeds, and it still remains in the possession of that family. Near Wakefield Queen Margaret inflicted a memorable defeat on Richard, duke of York (31st December 1460). The town has possessed a corn-market since the time of the Saxons. It obtained a charter for a cattle-market 1st March 1765. It was incorporated by Charles I. in 1626, and was governed by a constable, until it obtained a new charter under the Municipal Act, 11th March 1848. Since 1832 it has returned a member of parliament. Under an Improvement Act obtained in 1877, the corporation were empowered to purchase the waterworks belonging to a company which had been formed in 1835. In 1880 an Act was granted for obtaining a supply from Rishworth Moors, near Halifax, and the works were completed in 1888 at a cost of about £500,04.