Pontefract: A Town In Transition

Pontefract is a historical market town in West Yorkshire.  It was once famous for its coal mines that powered the nearby power stations, and liquorice.  Over the last couple of decades, the need for coal has declined dramatically. The pits have closed and towns like Pontefract have borne the brunt of some seismic shifts in our society.

Pontefract now seems to be a town of two independent personalities. There’s the self sufficient, prosperous, market town of the past, famous for its coal and liquorice, that seems to have been in a constant decline since the mid 1980’s.  There’s also new housing appearing, standing on sites where people were once employed. Housing that makes use of Pontefract’s proximity to major commuter links into nearby Leeds, Bradford & York. It’s this duality that formed the basis of my project.

Like many towns, Pontefract is in the process of losing its historical identity.  The things that kept that identity alive are in decline. I wanted to document the town in what seems to be a pivotal period as it gradually transforms from industrial market town, to a predominantly commuter town.