The Five Towns is comprised of Castleford, Featherstone, Knottingley,
Normanton and Pontefract. Smaller areas surround the Five Towns such as
Sharlston, Darrington and Altofts. The area has good transport links with the
M62 and A1 motorways running through it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the area is steeped in mining history with events such
the 1893 Featherstone Massacre standing out, although the history of the
area goes back much further. Castleford was an important Roman garrison
fort and town called Lagentium. Pontefract can boast the remains of a
Norman castle built in the 11th Century and which played a prominent role in
the Civil War as the last Royalist stronghold to fall. Before mining Pontefract
was a long established market town. Knottingley was an important inland port
up until well into the 20th Century and developed a thriving glass industry post
1870. Normanton was once the home of one of the most important railway
stations in Britain with Queen Victoria once spending a night at Station Hotel.
Famous people from the area include Martin Frobisher, a crucial figure in the
defeat of the Spanish Armada, born in Altofts, Ben Thompson, infamous
American wild west gunslinger, born in Knottingley, and Henry Moore, world
renown sculptor, born in Castleford.
The area has a strong sporting, leisure and entertainment focus including the
Xscape entertainment complex in Castleford, which contain skiing, cinema,
restaurants, bars, climbing and other entertainment. Also based in Castleford
are the Castleford Tigers Rugby League team, which plays in Super League.
Featherstone also supports a professional Rugby league team in the Rovers.
Pontefract has the largest continuous flat racecourse in Europe and is also
one of the few places in Britain that can produce liquorice, Pontefract Cakes.
A liquorice festival is held annually in the town.