Brontes, Harry Ramsden & more in West Yorkshire

Brontes, Harry Ramsden & more in West Yorkshire

The West Riding of Yorkshire has a long industrial heritage. The woollen mills that dominated the skyline of Leeds, Bradford Halifax and Huddersfield have either been demolished or converted to other uses. The Wakefield area was more associated with coal mining but, like the woollen mills, most of this industry has now gone.

Each of the five major towns and cities of West Yorkshire each has its own unique character and combine to provide activities for all ages.

Enjoy the Open Spaces in Roundhay Park

Parks were a vital recreational facility in the early 20th century and everywhere in West Yorkshire there is a park within easy reach. Roundhay Park in Leeds is possibly the biggest and most famous, having been the venue for numerous pop concerts. The park is about three miles from the city centre and the wide open spaces provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Younger visitors may prefer Pudsey Park which has a large play area.

The area is home to nationally acclaimed museums. The Royal Armouries in Leeds, The National Media Museum in Bradford and the National Mining Museum on the main Wakefield to Huddersfield Road all offer free admission. The Eureka Children’s Museum, less than 5 minutes walk from Halifax station, charges.

The area offers a wide range of shopping opportunities for all tastes and budgets. The exclusive Victoria Quarter in Leeds hosts an enviable selection of top quality stores including the first Harvey Nicholls outside London. Other centres such as the White Rose Centre (four miles south of Leeds), The Ridings centre in Wakefield and Kingsgate in Huddersfield offer a more familiar selection of high street names.

Visit Harry Ramsden’s First Fish and Chip Shop


West Yorkshire is home to the most famous fish and chip shop in the world. Harry Ramsden started his business at Guiseley and the original restaurant is still there. For curry lovers Bradford boasts a choice of over 300 Indian restaurants. Originally, these were cheap and cheerful places and two of the original Bradford curry houses, The Karachi and The Kashmiri have been largely unchanged in the last 50 years.The ethos has changed dramatically in recent years with the likes of Akhbars, The Aagrah and Mumtaz offering excellent food in sophisticated surroundings.

Despite its industrial heritage, the West Riding is home to some beautiful countryside. The Bronte Village of Haworth is less than 15 miles from the centre of Bradford and can be reached by steam train on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.The market towns of Ilkley and Otley are the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. and the area round Holmfirth offers walking opportunities in stunning scenery made famous by The Last of the Summer Wine.

Getting to West Yorkshire is relatively easy. The M1 and M62 motorways both pass through the county and Leeds has excellent rail links with the rest of the country. The local airport is Leeds/Bradford at Yeadon approximately 8 miles from both cities. There are also regular direct trains to Leeds and Huddersfield from the larger Manchester Airport.

There are excellent public transport connections within the county with all major attractions being served by bus or train.

Castles in West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire is well known for its industrial heritage and became a famous and wealthy region during the Industrial Revolution. However, this area of Yorkshire has a rich history and had thriving medieval towns long before the textile mills of Leeds and Bradford were in operation.

Pontefract Castle, West Yorkshire


There has been a castle in Pontefract for almost one thousand years. The town of Pontefract is often viewed as an industrial community, best known for mining and the production of liquorice sweets. However, in medieval times, the town was an important centre of power.

Pontefract was on the Great North Road, a route from London to the North of England and as such, received many important visitors. King Richard II died as a prisoner at the castle and it is reputed that Catherine Howard was first unfaithful to King Henry VIII here.

The current castle was constructed in the fourteenth century and was a favourite home of John of Gaunt, one of the sons of Edward III. It is a motte and bailey castle, with two wards and extensive underground buildings.

The townspeople of Pontefract have not always appreciated the castle and after the English Civil War, petitioned to Parliament to have it demolished, as they felt that it attracted trouble. The building was duly destroyed and has remained as a ruin ever since.

Details: Pontefract Castle, Castle Chain, Pontefract, WF8 1QH, tel: 01977 723440

Open: Mon-Fri 8.30am to dusk, Sat & Sun 10.30am to dusk

Sandal Castle, West Yorkshire

Sandal Castle is a motte and bailey fortress founded in 1180. It overlooks the site of the 1460 Battle of Wakefield, one of the battle-grounds of the War of the Roses.

The castle fell into disrepair during the sixteenth century, but was an important fortification during the English Civil War and was besieged twice by Parliamentary forces.

Archaeological finds have been discovered at the castle and some of these are on display at the nearby Wakefield Museum.

Details: Sandal Castle, Manygates Lane, Sandal, Wakefield, WF2 7DG, tel:

Open from dawn to dusk.

Wakefield Castle, West Yorkshire

Wakefield Castle was built in the twelfth century and may never have been completed. It was founded during the uncertainty of the reign of King Stephen, when many titles and landholdings were disputed.

The castle was designed as a motte and bailey fortress but its original design has been altered by later building work.

Details: Wakefield Castle, Thornes Park, Wakefield, WF2 8QE

Open from dawn to dusk.

Yorkshire has some of the UK’s oldest and most unspoilt historic attractions. The castles of Yorkshire give a unique picture of what life was like in earlier centuries.

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