Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Forum, Castleford

Following a tip off from one of our community curators at Castleford Museum, we have recently become aware of a painting by T. Wainwright showing Castleford's 'Forum'.  The lamp post at the junction of Aire Street and Bridge Street acted as a meeting place and a starting point for events and public debate, and therefore became known as the Forum.

Yorkshire Square
T. Wainwright
Oil on canvas
1892
© Compton Verney, Warwickshire. Photograph by Jamie Woodley. 

The painting is held by Compton Verney in Warwickshire and is currently on display in their Folk Art Galleries: Compton Verney Folk Art Collection.  As a another local connection, Compton Verney currently have on an exhibition about Henry Moore, who was born in Castleford - Moore Rodin Exhibition

During the General Strike in 1926, photographer and hairdresser Jack Hulme of Fryston photographed the lamp post. This photograph and others by Jack Hulme can be seen on display at Castleford Museum.

Killing time at 'The Forum' during the general strike in 1926
The lamp post can be seen again in these photographs from the 'Twixt Aire & Calder website: 'Twixt Aire and Calder.  



Bridge Street, Castleford, in the early 1900s

The Forum around 1900

The George & Dragon Inn seen to the right of the T Wainwright painting was demolished in 1976 to make way for a new roundabout.  This photo was taken in 1970.



You can see the surviving shop front, and the George and Dragon in this 1960s photograph:



Wakefield Museums also have some other paintings by T. Wainwright in the collection:

'Fryston Road, Airedale', 1907

'Pontefract Road, Castleford' 1907
'Pontefrcat Road, Castleford' , 1907

The idea of a forum connects Castleford to its Roman past. In Roman Britain’s bigger cities the Forum was a public space where business was conducted, meetings were held and decisions made. Roman forums have long since gone and so has Castleford’s lamp post. Castleford Forum Library and Museum is a new opportunity to meet up and start a new conversation.

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