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The Broken Bridge

One of the oldest houses in Pontefract, named after the Gardiner family, once stood on this site.

5 Horsefair, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF8 1PD

It was the Normans who gave Pontefract its name, derived from the Latin ‘pontus fractus’, meaning broken bridge. The bridge is thought to have been on the outskirts of today’s town, at Ferrybridge. This building has housed various supermarkets since it was built in the 1960s. It stands on the site of one of Pontefract’s oldest houses, recorded on the 1742 map of the town. For many years, from c1900, it was home to Gardiner’s window-cleaning business.

Photographs and text about Gardiner’s House. 

The text reads: The building that you are now in was built in the 1960s, since when no.5 Horsefair has accommodated a succession of supermarkets. However, this modern building stands on the site of one of Pontefract’s oldest houses.

The house (later known as Gardiner’s House) had a Georgian or early Victorian brick façade. Behind the façade there was an earlier house with oak panelled rooms. Some of the panelling can be seen in Pontefract Museum.

Above: Gardiner’s House, Horsefair
Below: Looking from Horsefair towards Gardiner’s House, c1900.

A photograph and text about no.5 Horsefair. 

The text reads: Gardiner’s House, which stood on the site of these premises, was named after the Gardiner family who lived there from c1900. Mr and Mrs JW Gardiner lived in the house, which was also the address of their Pontefract & District Window Cleaning Company. James Gardiner was still listed as a window cleaner in local trade directories of the 1920s.

The Pontefract & District Window Cleaning Company was still at number 5 Horsefair during the Second World War, with Mrs Gardiner in charge. When the building was demolished in the 1960s it had long been known as Gardiner’s House.

Picture: Gardiner’s window-cleaning service pose outside Maud’s Yard, off Market Place.

Photographs and text about the history of this site. 

The text reads: One of the oldest houses in Pontefract, named after the Gardiner family, once stood on this site. The house is recorded on the 1742 map of the town, but incorporated an even older residence.

There was a large plaster coat of arms on the ground floor ceiling, probably made in 1680. The gardens at the rear of the house once extended (sideways) to Finkle Street, which gives the site its L-shaped layout.

During the 1920s James Gardiner was a window cleaner, but he was also a fireman. At that time horse drawn engines were still in use, although they were soon replaced by motorized fire engines. Gardiner remained a fireman and went on to become Chief Fire Officer for Pontefract.

Top: Pontefract Fire Service before motorisation
Above: The plaster ceiling in Gardiner’s House
Right: The entrance to Gardiner’s House.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk