A thriving market town, Pontefract owes much of its fame to its most famous product, Pontefract Cakes, which are small liquorice sweets.
Liquorice was grown in Pontefract from around the 16th century on plots of land behind people’s houses. Although originally consumed as a medicine both for humans and for horses, by the 19th century, it was used extensively for confectionery and demand for Pontefract Cakes outstripped the capacity of Pontefract growers to supply the liquorice. The town still hosts an annual Liquorice Festival each July.
Pontefract is also known for horse racing which has taken place in the town since 1648. Pontefract Racecourse is the longest flat, circular course in Europe.
The town itself has a good variety of shops, a bustling market and a castle, the ruins of which have been the subject of a multi-million pound restoration project, complete with a stunning visitor centre, housed in the 19th century blacksmith’s workshop. King Richard II was murdered at the castle in 1400 and the famous outlaw Robin Hood was also thought to have carried out some of his activities in the nearby forest of Barnsdale.
Market days are Wednesday and Saturday, with a smaller market on Fridays and there is also a covered market which is open all week.
Pontefract is near the A1 (or Great North Road) and the M62 motorway.
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