Wakefield, West Yorkshire: Old Photos & Films

Wakefield West Yorkshire England UK local history videos

First mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, as both Wachefeld and Wachefelt, the cathedral city of Wakefield boasts a rich and well documented history. Famous for its industry throughout the industrial revolution, Wakefield is still home to more than 700 listed buildings.

The City Through The Ages

Old Wakefield

A compilation by Old Wakey of black and white photos showing many different locations around Wakefield in the olden days.

Wakefield 1925 to 1999

Richard Sild’s hour long collection of film footage showing the cathedral city, its people and places from 1925 through to 1999.

Hundreds of people appear, some going about their daily lives, some attending special events and others being interviewed on film.

The narration is informative too.

Wakefield History

A 17 minute compilation of photos and film clips by Mr H, showing the city over recent decades.

Britain’s Strongest Man In 1935

Ronnie Walker (1936)

In this British Pathé film from 1936, we meet Ronnie Walker from Wakefield.

He was 27 years old, weighed 14 stone 7lbs, and represented Britain at the last Olympic Games.

Apparently claiming to be Britain’s strongest man, he lifts weights and people to show his powerful strength in action.

The 1960s

Stanley Royd, Former Pauper Lunatic Asylum Wakefield (1960s)

Recorded on 16mm film reels, these photographs and film footage of a working asylum in the 1960s gives a rare insight into the mental health facilities provided at the time.

Looking at the hospital beds closely positioned beside each other and the clinical nature of every room, it’s important to remember that the patients were not staying a few nights but lived here long term. This was their home for months, and years, on end.

Thornes Park In 1965

Thornes Park Wakefield (1965)

Just 10 minutes away from the city centre, the formal gardens, playgrounds, sports facilities and 130 acres of Thornes Park was a major draw to local families. It was also home to the busy greenhouses of the Parks Department.

Major events such as the weekly bands, gymkhanas, sports events, annual flower and vegetable show, and the annual agricultural show drew in crowds of participants and spectators.

Because of this, hundreds of adults, children, sports participants, event participants and local dignitaries appear in almost 5 minutes of footage uploaded by Gardener Jim.

Local Streets In The 1970s

Tour Around Wakefield (1973/4)

In the early 1970s, Mortimer50145’s family recorded several car trips around Wakefield. They used a Super 8 film camera mounted into the passenger seat window. Eventually they ran out of film! 

This 7 minute footage shows locations with great clarity. It shows Kirkgate before pedestrianisation, buildings in the process of construction, and businesses which are no longer there.

The 1980s

Casanovas And Rooftop Gardens Night Clubs (1980s)

Uploaded to YouTube by tonfir, this two and a half minute footage shows 80s fashions and perms at their best.

Recorded in the city’s popular nightclubs of Casanovas and Rooftop Gardens, the footage is surprisingly clear so individuals can be seen.

A Drive From Doncaster Road To The Bullring Wakefield (1987)

On 5th May 1987, 251hanomag filmed a drive around Wakefield. Because the car radio is playing in the background, the 1980s atmosphere is enhanced.

Wakefield Westgate & York Railway Stations (1989)

In March 1989, Nicholas Tozer recorded trains arriving and departing at two railway stations.

In addition to the trains and station platforms, a number of passengers appear.

Into The 21st Century

Wakefield (2017)

On Sunday 10th Dec 2017 akkers5 took a walk around the city centre, recording 8 minutes of footage.

More West Yorkshire pages


The Regal ABC Cinema in Wakefield’s Kirkgate

The Regal cinema in Kirkgate was the last purpose built ABC cinema to be launched in Britain in 1935.

Opened on 9 December 1935, the cinema stalls and a balcony provided 1,594 seats in one auditorium. The theatre design was a little different from previous William R Glen movie theatres, because the exits were not placed on either side of the front stalls and decoration was more plain.

The Regal was renamed as the ADB in 1962.

Then in November 1976, the auditorium was divided into three smaller screens, offering 532, 236 and 170 seats. 

The Cannon Group bought the ABC cinema in 1986, but the opening of the Cineworld Complex in Wakefield in December 1996 led to the ABC’s closure a few months later.

The location of the derelict cinema led to several development scheme submissions to the local council. Initially the building was pencilled for conversion, but subsequent plans included full demolished for flats and then a car park.

The Cinema Theatre Association (CTA) and Wakefield Civic Society have worked hard to save the art-deco building. 

Meanwhile, in Bradford development plans were green lit for conversion of the historic Odeon into a live entertainment and arts venue.  In contrast, Newcastle Upon Tyne’s art-deco Odeon was stripped of its listed status and interior decoration in secret. Once the new owners obtained permission for demolition, an accident caused the building to collapse onto the road and passenger bus stops in the heart of the city centre.

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