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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History



Reproduced from the Official Guide to Knottingley
by Knottingley Urban District Council, circa. 1950

Town and country meet and new and old mingle in Knottingley, urban district of about 9,000 population, whose smoking factories outpost the flat agricultural area which ranges eastwards to Goole.

Situated east of the Great North Road and south of the River Aire, with good rail and road connections, Knottingley is best known as a centre of the glass industry, but it's manifold occupations include also boat building, tar distilling, pottery making, iron-founding, lime-burning and the manufacture of electrical accessories.  The agricultural interest still survives, a notable feature of which is the labour force which Knottingley women provide for the seasonal pea-picking.

Much of the older town, with it's shopping centre of Aire Street is concentrated in the eastern half of an island formed by the River Aire and the Knottingley to Goole section of the busy Aire and Calder Canal.  These two waterways add character and colour to the typical, square windowed old houses, which were built about the time the canal was opened in 1826 and the decade which followed.  Knottingley Marsh, lining the open north bank of the River, gives the rather sultry little main street, a great green panorama, and the Canal cutting, crossed by five road bridges as it winds it's way eastwards, has not lost all it's charm to the clustered factories.

The Canal is a link with the maritime tradition, dating back to the days of sail, which is responsible for the inn-names like "The Boat", "The Jolly Sailor", and "The Lime Keel" ( a more indigenous product).  That tradition is inherited by the shipyard workers and those employed in the Canal carrying trade.

Since 1918 however, with an impetus renewed after the Second World War, Knottingley has spread southwards in big Council housing estates, beyond the Wakefield, Weeland and Goole Road, which now roughly bisects it, west to east, dividing new from old.  Red brick had supplanted native limestone in Knottingley's composition long before the Council houses came, but a reminder of the limestone era remains in the shape of quarries with which the town is not unattractively pitted; in long white boundary walls; and in the gleaming square tower of St. Botolph's Church at the head of Aire Street.

Nearby and overlooking the Canal cutting from a wide sweep of Weeland Road is the Town Hall, s foursquare Victorian building, and not far away is the Ropewalk Secondary Modern School, largest of the towns five schools, with the commodious Ropewalk Methodist Church hard by.  There are four other places of worship, excluding those of Ferrybridge, which village was added to the Urban District in the nineteen-thirties.

Community life is conditioned by the segregation of the new estates which at present have no hall or church of their own and are at a distance from those of the older parts, but it's most typical expression is in a strong sporting element.

Outdoor recreation for which facilities are provided by the Council varies from Junior Rugby League and Association Football, in which local firms play a large part, to Cricket and the typically northern sports of greyhound racing and pigeon flying.  Despite the somewhat dispersed population, a variety of cultural activities are carried on, for which facilities are largely supplied by religious bodies and schools.


There are eight school departments in the Urban District area of Knottingley which come under the authority of the West Riding Education Department.  Local affairs are managed through the Divisional Education Officer, Mr. F. Hall, at the Education Offices, Chapel Street, Knottingley.

Knottingley Ropewalk Secondary Modern School (mixed). Approximately 380 pupils attend the school whose staff consists of a Headmaster and 13 assistants some of whom are competent to give instructions in Handicraft and Domestic Science.

Knottingley Weeland Road Primary Junior Mixed School. 220 pupils.
Knottingley Vale Primary Junior Mixed and Infants School. 140 pupils
Knottingley Ferrybridge Primary Junior Mixed School. 110 pupils.
Knottingley Ferrybridge Primary Infant's School. 110 pupils
Knottingley Chapel street Primary Infant's School. 90 pupils
Knottingley C.E. Primary Junior Mixed School. 185 pupils.
Knottingley C.E. Primary Infant's School. 180 pupils.

Dinners are supplied (from a central canteen) to all pupils. For further and adult education an Evening Institute is provided at Ropewalk, Knottingley.

Although no new schools have been built since the war, the County Council have included the erection of a new 7 class Junior School and Playing Field at England Lane in their 1949 programme.


The health of the population is looked after by two authorities.  The first is the Pontefract and Castleford Management Committee which is centred at the Pontefract General Infirmary.  This body, whose secretary is Mr. W. Bowring, exercises a general control over all hospitals and clinics in the area.  As no hospital exists in Knottingley itself, the inhabitants avail themselves of the others in the region, the nearest being Pontefract General Infirmary, 60 beds, and Pontefract and Baghill Joint Isolation Hospital, 36 beds.  In order to keep a check on the health of the townsfolk, especially that of mothers and young children, and to attend to minor ailments, clinics have been established at Knottingley and Ferrybridge.


Before 1939 the council had been responsible for erecting 730 houses spread over a total of twelve estates. This accommodation though rather distant in some cases from the town centre, is well placed in relation to the industrial areas.  The largest of these estates are at England Lane, 202 houses, Pinders Garth, Ferrybridge, 100 houses and Broomhill, where there are 168 houses.  In 1945 the urgency of the housing problem was realised and the Council have erected a total of 264 dwellings, the majority concentrated in two estates at Spawd Bone Lane, Knottingley and Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge.  As a part of the above programme, 64 houses are now in course of erection and plans have been approved for further building.  The Council encourage building of houses by private enterprise - 54 houses have been completed under building licences and others are nearing completion.


It was not until the expansion of industry in the town that Knottingley, in 1894, became an Urban district.  It's status and boundaries remained the same until 1937 when, under the West Riding County Review Order, a portion of the parish of Ferryfryston (Ferrybridge) and a part of the Borough of Pontefract were added to Knottingley. The Council now consists of fifteen members who represent the four wards into which the town is divided, these are Central, East, Ferrybridge and West.  The Knottingley Electoral Division, which contains over 6,000 voters, elects one member to the West Riding County Council.

The Chairman of the Knottingley Urban District Council is Lewis George Creaser Esq. of Capetown Villas, Womersley Road, Knottingley, and the Vice-Chairman is Wilfred Burdin Esq., 'Headlands', Pontefract Road, Knottingley.  The General Meetings of the Council are held on the first Wednesday in every month at 6.30pm.


Clerk, Accountant, Rating Officer and Registrar of Cemetery: Mr. Stuart D. Hill.
Surveyor and Waterworks Manager: Mr. Gilbert J. Laverick.
Sanitary Officer: Mr. Kenneth Whiteley.
Medical Officer of Health: Dr. J. F. Fraser, 'Mayfield', Carleton Road, Pontefract.
Treasurers: Midland Bank Ltd., Pontefract.


Town Hall: The Public Offices of the Urban District are situated in this building, whose large hall is used for a variety of purposes such as dances, concerts and meetings.  The Hall, which was erected in 1865, was formerly used as a Mechanics Institute.  In 1903 it was purchased by C. G. Lyon Esq. and presented to the Township.  In view of the ever expanding population, plans have been made for an extension to the Town hall premises and to provide additional office accommodation, ante rooms etc..


This is situated at Hill Top, Knottingley and is open during the following hours:
Monday: 2.30pm-4.30pm and 6pm-8pm
Wednesday: 6pm-8pm
Thursday: 2.30pm-4.30pm
Friday: 2.30pm-4.30pm and 6pm-8pm
Saturday: 10am-12.30pm and 5.30pm-8pm


Today, current is provided under Sub-Area No. 5 of the Yorkshire Electricity Board, whose Sub-Headquarters are at 1a, Denby Dale Road, Wakefield.  The Sub-Area is divided into districts and Knottingley comes into the Castleford District, whose offices are also located at Castleford.

This is supplied by the Knottingley Undertaking which is part of the North Eastern Gas Board, Bridge Street, Leeds 2.


Four post offices serve the various districts of the town:
Knottingley Sub Office (Delivery Office)
Ferrybridge Sub Office
Hill Top Sub Office
Weeland Road Sub Office


Considerable expansion of the towns facilities for outdoor recreation are planned by the Council in view of the increasing population.  At present the main playing fields are sited at Hill Top, Knottingley; soon these are to include Bowling Greens and Tennis Courts.  At Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge, 7 acres of land have been leased for us as playing fields and in addition the Council are negotiating for the purchase of 4 acres of land for development of Bowling Greens and Tennis Courts.

Outdoor sports include Knottingley Town Cricket and Lawn tennis Club (who have frequently headed the West Riding League), Junior Rugby League and Association Football Clubs (many of them works teams).  Greyhound Racing at Knottingley Stadium, Pigeon Flying.  Naturally, the above clubs do not restrict their activities purely to sport and many such organisations possess large licensed clubs.  In addition to these a number of societies and clubs supply a variety of instruction and entertainment during the winter months.  The Knottingley Evening Institute maintains several classes, The Ropewalk Methodist Church fosters choral music, while branches of the British legion and Toc H. carry on an active social life.  Other clubs include the Knottingley Working-men's Club, Foundry Lane Club and Institute and the Knottingley Conservative Club.

The nearest golf course is that of the Pontefract and district Golf Club Ltd., 1 1/4 miles from Pontefract Station.



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