July-December 2011

Proms at the castle

About 900 people attended Proms at the Castle on the last Sunday in July, many bringing a picnic to enjoy while listening to West Yorkshire Police Band – a fantastic afternoon of great music in glorious sunshine. The Friends of Sandal Castle, who organised the event, were delighted and they appreciated the support given by staff at the castle visitors’ centre. Although a free event, money raised by a collection went towards the band’s visit to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Twin Towers attack in September. 

Presentation evening

St Thomas a Becket High School hall was packed in November for the presentation evening at which head girl Alex Myers and head boy Sam Marson, after welcoming guests and returning former pupils, acted as comperes for the evening. Chairman of the governors, Coun Olivia Rowley, spoke in her opening remarks of her pride in the achievements of the pupils, after which Mrs Linda Davies presented certificates and prizes. Pat Kiernan spoke of former colleague, Paul Oldroyd, a much loved member of staff for 30 years, before presenting the shield to Jess Jameson. Headmaster John Rooney delivered the closing remarks before Alex and Sam presented gifts to Grace Eyles and Matthew Woodhouse, their predecessors. 

Sandal bus review

Metro launched a consultation exercise which ran until October 7. A list of services which were to be withdrawn was published in the Wakefield Express, along with services which could be reduced in frequency due to lack of patronage. Sandal Community Association examined the proposals, acknowledging the area was generally well served and the buses well used, while pointing out that the large Mountbatten estate, where many elderly residents live, might be seen as a positive zone for provision of a new service. A drop-in information day took place when staff spoke to travellers. 

And they all joined in...

Sandal Community Association’s first Christmas cheese and wine party at the West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club on Friday, December 9, was a huge success with Sandal Methodist Church choir singing carols and festive songs. An approving audience joined in some of the singing – with enthusiastic participation in The Twelve Days of Christmas. There was a raffle and the Association shared profits from the evening, with £200 going to the choir’s fund.

Chevet Lane concerns

More than 50 residents from the Chevet Lane area of Sandal packed into The Three Houses Inn in September for a meeting arranged by the Community Association to discuss concerns about the great increase in the number of heavy lorries travelling up and down what is basically a country lane, not a major road. Gill Whittingham, of the Community Association, said residents wanted traffic limitations and a weight restriction placed on the road. She said: “People living around here think Chevet Lane is a dangerous road and feel very strongly about the traffic. There are parts of the road where there is not enough space for two vehicles to pass each other.  The council’s statistics seem to only include accidents where there are injuries, but police have told us it is notorious for accidents. We want measures to be taken now so that we can prevent serious injury and death.” Bob Whyatt, senior traffic engineer, said: “We have met with residents and understand their concerns. We will now carry out a survey to monitor lorry movements on Chevet Lane and after analysing the information, will pass our findings to residents, along with our recommendations.”He said that many of the points raised were police matters, but undertook to investigate ways in which the council might be able to help, particularly where heavy lorries were forced onto the verges when overtaking or passing. After explaining that only accidents involving injury were recorded, promised to provide details of others.

Sandal Strollers

ON THEIR September walk Sandal Strollers’ regulars were joined by several newcomers for a walk through Haw Park Woods to Wintersett, returning along the Barnsley Canal. The October walk at Yorkshire Sculpture Park was cancelled at the last moment because of a violent hailstorm as the group reached West Bretton. The December walk was at Wentworth Castle.

Racist graffiti daubed at castle

GRAFFITI vandals struck at Sandal Castle on December 29, the eve of the 551st anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield. Police launched a full investigation after the historical ruins were defaced with the words ‘Islam will dominate the world’ and ‘kill all the kuffars’. Author Dr Keith Souter, pictured here, is a member of the Friends of Sandal Castle and has written many works about the castle, which was the site of the battle.  He said: “It’s a great shame that a monument of such historical importance has been spoiled.” Wakefield Council has been working alongside English Heritage to remove the thick white paint from the Grade II listed remains. Ben Cook, service manager for markets and tourism, said: “The castle is a scheduled ancient monument and plays a key role in the heritage of the area and it is very disappointing to see it vandalised. We are working to remove the graffiti as quickly as possible and will have a specialist team on site.”

Battle anniversary is marked

Around 300 people visited Sandal Castle on New Year’s Eve to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield. The Frei Compagnie re-enactors held an event in partnership with the Friends of Sandal Castle. Families were able to touch and see weapons, clothing and crafts, including a working spinning wheel. Friends member and local author Dr Keith Souter said: “I think everyone found it interesting seeing the weapons and how they would spin wool in 15th century Wakefield. “I hope some people went away with that sense of belonging and pride in Wakefield and what it has to offer. Although the castle is a ruin, it is an important historical site and I think some people learned that on the day.” During the celebrations, around 200 people joined members of Wakefield Historical Society and the Yorkshire branch of the Richard III Society to lay a wreath at the monument on Manygates Lane, where it is believed Richard Duke of York was killed during the War of the Roses conflict on 30 December 1460. He was slaughtered during one of the bloodiest battles after leaving the castle with an army of about 5,000 to face King Henry VI’s opposing Lancastrian force of 15,000. The landmark battle lead to the downfall of the Yorkists. A wreath is laid each year to commemorate his death, but this was the first time the castle visitor centre had opened for such an event. 

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