Work in progress
Work in progress

Pontefract Castle Key to the North Project

What does the project involve?

The Key to the North Project is a £3.5 million project at Pontefract Castle which includes conservation work to the monument, a new visitor centre, café, gift shop and museum, and site developments that will allow parts of the castle not seen by the public since 1649 to be opened up.

Work on site is progressing well and visitors are already commenting on what a difference it has made to the castle. The visitor centre is now open, however conservation works are not yet complete and some areas of the castle are still closed. Bear with us and if you haven't visited for a while why not come along and see what's going on?

People can get involved in the project as a volunteer.  If you have anything from a few hours a month to a few hours each day and a passion for Pontefract and it's Castle then read the Volunteer With Us page to find out how you could be involved.

This project is possible thanks to the following supporters: Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Wakefield Council, The Wolfson Foundation, Epac and the Friends of Pontefract Castle.


Project Update

The herb garden that we planted in April has really taken root and flowered through the summer. Anyone who’s been to the Visitor Centre over the past few months will have noticed some spectacular blooms and rich, heady fragrances emanating from our herbs.

It’s also proved to be a real haven for minibeasts of all types: our intrepid band of bug-hunters spent many hours here during the holidays discovering and cataloguing dozens of fascinating insects.

Herb Garden, Visitor Centre and Bug Hunters

In September, we were very pleased to welcome our new stonemason contractor to our Key to the North project. Stone Edge North East Ltd began their vital conservation works on 1st October, starting at the famous Constable Tower. Once Constable is complete, they’ll move around the site area by area. We can’t wait to see their expertise in action!

Conservation Works

And most exciting of all… next year we will be able to provide visitors access to the Sally Port! Groundworks above the Port are now nearing completion, with new paths, railings and steps in place.

Once the conservation works to this historic monument are completed, visitors will not only be able to view it from above, but also to enter from below – for the first time in hundreds of years. Watch this space…

Sally Port

Our partners, Engie, have been hard at work on site since May, carrying out various work to help us complete this important project. In addition to their work on the Sally Port, they have completed the paths from the Royal Apartments to the Kitchen, installed a viewing platform above the Swillington Tower and demolished the veterans’ shelter, which will be the site for a new bandstand.

To keep up with all the latest news and developments, remember to check back here regularly. Or better yet, sign up to our regular e-newsletter, and never miss a thing!