Wakefield, city and metropolitan borough (1991 pop. 74,764), N central England, on the Calder River. Wakefield has been a center of the cloth industry from the 14th cent. Other manufactures include wools and synthetics, chemicals, machine tools, mining machinery, engineering, soft drinks, and beer. The city is also a railroad junction and farm center, with an important cattle market.
The site was occupied by the Danes and Saxons; Richard, duke of York, was defeated and slain in the battle of Wakefield in 1460. The Towneley Plays (see miracle play) originated there. Notable buildings are All Saints' Church (mainly 15th cent.), the chantry chapel on the bridge over the Calder (c.1350; restored 1847), and the grammar school (1591). A technical college is also in Wakefield.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.