Oil on Canvas
50 x 109.5 cm
The artist Thomas Wainwright lived and worked in Castleford and many of his paintings of local scenes survive today in public and private collections. The lamp in the centre of the painting, at the junction of Aire Street and Bridge Street, was a popular meeting place and focus for events and public debate; so much so that it became known as ‘The Castleford Forum’. The bridge remains today, but the lamp post and the George and Dragon pub were demolished in 1976 to make way for a new roundabout.
Wainwright’s painting has also been known as ‘A Yorkshire Square.’ The attribution could be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the ‘forum’: a Yorkshire slant on the classical meeting-place. Alternatively, given the preponderance of public houses in the painting, it could be an oblique and whimsical reference to the ‘Yorkshire Square’ method of brewing beer, peculiar to Yorkshire and Lancashire. This method employed a two-storey Yorkshire Square fermenting vessel, traditionally crafted from Yorkshire sandstone (later Welsh slate, and then stainless steel). The system dates back some 200 years and is still used by a handful of northern brewers today.
Bridge Foot, Castleford, Yorkshire 1892 © Compton Verney
Reference CVCSC 0083.F