Pontefract Hermitage and General Dispensary
Built in 1880 on the site of the 14th century Hermitage

Action is needed to conserve this heritage site and we need to raise the cash

Click here to download our community share offer prospectus

We have not been able to proceed with the launch of the community share issue - go to the News Page for more information

Pontefract General Dispensary on Southgate, shown in the photograph, dates from 1880 and is the remaining building of the Pontefract General Infirmary (PGI) which was demolished in 2011 after major hospital services were transferred to the new Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Beneath the Dispensary building lies the medieval Hermitage and Oratory dating from at least 1386. The Hermitage has a Grade I National Heritage Listing but the Dispensary is not a listed building. Applications for listing were made to English Heritage in 1995 and again in 2005 and you can download the report rejecting the application in 2005 here. The building is designated a Building of Local Interest by Wakefield Council. The Hermitage and Oratory can only be accessed from the Dispensary: the Hermitage descends by a rock-cut spiral staircase of 65 steps, to a well 51 feet below the lamp post in the centre of the road, shown in the photograph.

The building of the new Pontefract Hospital to the east from 2008, and the demolition of PGI north of Friarwood Lane in 2011 has had a detrimental effect on the Dispensary and Hermitage. The Dispensary was a working hospital and housed the Dermatology Department until January 2011, but thieves got access to the building during demolition and removed everything of scrap value including roof lead, so that the roof now leaks and the building is deteriorating. The Hermitage is flooded and no longer open to the public; pumps are extracting 2,000 gallons of water hourly.

A group of concerned individuals formed the Pontefract Dispensary and Hermitage Action Group (PDHAG) in early 2013, with the aim of engaging with the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, the owner of the site, to ensure that the Dispensary and Hermitage are preserved for Pontefract's heritage. PDHAG became an incorporated organisation, Pontefract Heritage Partnership Limited in December 2013, the appropriate legal structure to acquire ownership of the Dispensary and Hermitage by asset transfer from the NHS. In March 2017 the organisation converted to a Community Benefit Society (registration number 7313) to enable us to issue community shares. See the news page for more information.

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 Supported with a development grant for early stage planning