In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Pontefract like this:
Pontefract (or Pomfret), parl. and mun. bor., market town, par., and township, E. div. West-Riding Yorkshire, near confluence of rivers Aire and Calder, 10 miles E. of Wakefield, 14 miles SE. of Leeds, and 173 miles from London by rail - par., 6796 ac., pop. 14,717; township, 238 ac., pop. 6335; mun. bor. (comprising Pontefract, Pontefract Park, Monkhill, and Tanshelf townships), 4078 ac., pop. 8798; parl. bor. (comprising also Carleton, Ferry-Frystone, and Knottingley townships), 7316 ac., pop. ...
15,332; P.O., T.O., 3 Banks, 3 newspapers. Market-day, Saturday. Pontefract (i.e., Broken Bridge) is an ancient town, and dates from Roman and Saxon times. The castle, built in 1080, and dismantled by Lambert the Parliamentarian in 1649, figures prominently in history, among the many tragic scenes within its walls being the murder of Richard II. in 1399. The ancient churches of St Giles and All Saints are prominent features of the town, which also possesses a town hall of 1656, a market house of 1859, and a grammar school of the time of Edward VI. The industries include iron and brass founding, the mfrs. of earthenware, bricks, tiles, and pipes, sack and hearth-rug making, malting, brewing, and tanning. The growing and refining of liquorice for the lozenges called "Pomfret cakes" is largely carried on; collieries and extensive gardens and nurseries are in the neighbourhood. Pontefract was chartered in the reign of Richard I., and sent 2 members to Parliament from the time of James I. until 1885. It now returns 1 member.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Pontefract has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Wakefield. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Pontefract and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Pontefract, in Wakefield and West Riding | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 27th November 2014
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