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Also by Terry Spencer

The following studies by Terry Spencer are now available on the Knottingley website:

By the last quarter of the nineteenth century the August Bank Holiday period at Knottingley abounded in fun and frolic with the Feast as the hub of the festivities. The fair was supplemented by community sports and of the sporting element within the town none was more prominent than Knottingley Town Cricket Club.

Situated on the southern bank of the River Aire, to the north side of Aire Street, lies Knottingley Flatts. Today, the Flatts occupy only a small portion of the original layout which comprised the greater part of Knottingley Ings.

The modern image of the fair is one of outdoor entertainment for pleasure seeking people but such a concept is one which has developed over the last two centuries being born as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

Prior to the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948 local people relied for health care in the event of sickness or serious injury upon charitable institutions such as Pontefract Dispensary and Leeds Infirmary.

The application by Knottingley Urban District Council for a grant of arms was made to the College of Arms, London, in mid 1942.

That there was a glassworks at Ferrybridge is indisputable for it was both documented and photographed. That it was situated on the north bank of the River Aire "..where the Parish of Brotherton merges into the Parish of Ferrybridge" is confirmed by map reference. The doubt lies not in the existence or location of the furnace but with its origin.

The township of Knottingley, situated three miles north-east of Pontefract in the Wapentake of Osgoldcross, developed from a 6th century Saxon settlement in a forest clearing on the south bank of the river Aire. By the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066 the settlement had acquired the status of a manorial vill

As the process of industrialisation and urban development gained pace in the second half of the nineteenth century the provision of public spaces such as municipal gardens and parks for the purpose of public recreation and amenity became increasingly desirable.

Percy Bentley, scion of a prominent Knottingley family, was born in that town on the 18th January 1891, the son of James William and Helena Bentley, and was baptised in the parish church of St. Botolph on the 11th February.

On Wednesday, 25th September 1918, a committee previously sanctioned by Knottingley Urban District Council in meeting assembled, met in the Council Chamber at Knottingley Town Hall to consider the form of memorial to the men who had fallen during the Great War.

No less than the citizens of its larger neighbour, the inhabitants of the village of Ferrybridge decided to honour those drawn from the community and slain in the Great War.

For approximately a decade from the mid 1940's the 'K' Sisters, Marjorie and Pamela Kellett, were prominent throughout the town and district of Knottingley as all-round entertainers who harnessed their talent to providing public enjoyment and in so doing raised large amounts of money for local charities.

The new cinema, one of the earliest purpose-built picture houses in the country, was situated on an oblique strip of land some 560 square yards in extent, adjacent to Ship Lane at the junction with lower Aire Street. The hall was designed to seat 600 people: 500 in the area and 100 in the balcony.

In 1752, eighteen residents of the township of Knottingley in company with John Mitchell, the Parish Constable, agreed to be bound over in the sum of £10 each to observe the legal and moral obligations attendant upon being granted a licence as an innkeeper.

In the Spring of 1994, the recently deceased and much lamented Edwin Beckett arranged for the installation of a clock at the top of the Town Hall turret. The event was celebrated in verse by Mrs Joyce Bell who concluded her eulogy by stating that her mother, Dolly Lightowler, had always wished to see a clock set in the "bare face" of the Town Hall - a wish which had now come true.

Awareness of a link between my native Knottingley and the Prince's statue came quite recently when Mrs Shirley Bedford of Knottingley informed me that her great grandfather was the master of a barge which had transported the statue from Hull to Leeds in 1903.

It was in the course of a recent conversation with Roger Ellis that the subject of nicknames arose, following which, in an idle half-hour, I casually began to compile a list of those I recalled. My list quickly exceeded fifty in number and I was seized by a natural desire to list as many more as I could obtain.

The origin of Knottingley Band is obscure. In 1980 the Band celebrated its conjectured centenary year, the date being taken from an old letterhead of 1880.  However, a subsequent documentary source has been located which indicates that the genesis of the Band may lie much further in the past.

The burgeoning spirit of civic pride found practical expression on 29th October 1864, when a group of prominent citizens of the town formed the Knottingley Town Hall & Mechanics’ Institute Company Limited.

The purpose of this study is to consider the topography of modern day Knottingley and formulate a theoretical model concerning the development of the settlement during the medieval and post medieval eras as reflected in the field systems adopted.

An A-Z listing of Knottingley field and place names.

One of the most impressive and graceful houses ever built at Knottingley was Lime Grove. The large attached house was the residence of the Carter family and was built to the orders of Mark Carter at Mill Close, Hill Top, about 1808.

Conflict is fuelled by finance so it is unsurprising that following the outbreak of war in 1939, local savings committees were established to encourage people to curb personal expenditure and invest surplus cash in the National War Savings Scheme in order to assist the cost of the war.

The township of Knottingley became a semi-autonomous parish in 1789 following the ecclesiastical reorganisation of that period but remaining under the patronage of the Vicar of Pontefract until it became an independent parish in 1846

Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History


by TERRY SPENCER B.A. (Hons), Ph D.




During almost a century and a half of existence Knottingley Band has experienced many vicissitudes but when faced with problems the Band has overcome them largely by the efforts of its members. As the late Band Secretary, Bill Hodgson, once stated,

We have never been so short of money because we have gone to the people to earn it.” (1)

The statement, while essentially true, particularly with regard to the effort made by the Band to earn money, tends to minimise the fact that while the Band may never have lacked cash entirely, there have been times when funds were in short supply, hence the need to earn money. Such a period appears to have been experienced in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

The years between 1945 and 1953 were potentially ones of prosperity as full employment combined with the gratuity payments made to discharged service personnel created a flood of surplus money in the pockets of a public seeking entertainment and pleasure as an antidote to the restrictions and impositions of the war economy. Ironically, post war austerity with its shortages of fuel and materials and the necessity for continued rationing constrained the production of luxury goods and services and restricted the outlets for individual expenditure. In such circumstances it might be thought that former pleasures, including band concerts and dances would have attracted considerable patronage. The mood of the public, however, was characterised by the desire for change. The simple pleasures which had served former generations were now largely regarded as somewhat old fashioned and passé and while in the absence of anything more innovative they drew a measure of support it was not of the former magnitude. To compound the problem the winter of 1946-47 was one of the most severe on record. Fuel shortages affected both gas and electricity supplies. To prevent themselves freezing within the confines of their own homes many able-bodied people spent the bulk of each day ‘cinder picking’ on the ash tips located in local disused limestone quarries and in the vicinity of Ferrybridge Power Station which were the deposit sites of waste from the furnaces of local coal burning industries. A thriving commerce developed between some who purchased sacks of cinders from those who regarded ‘cinder picking’ as a secondary occupation undertaken to obtain beer and ‘fag’ money. To digress: in the midst of such activity petty-minded officialdom backed by the forces of law and order asserted itself, fervent in pursuit of trespassers even as the old and frail and young and vulnerable lacked a modicum of essential warmth. Many were the tales of luck and ingenuity concerning the outwitting of the forces of authority which regaled a generally sympathetic public. Not all outcomes were lucky ones, however, for on numerous occasions, having spent many finger-numbing hours sieving dross to acquire a sack of cinders, an unfortunate picker was accosted by officials who confiscated the hard won booty.

The above digression serves to illustrate the point that sitting in a cold, dimly lit public hall listening to (or even playing) music was not in vogue in the period when snow fell in January and in many locations was still on the ground in April. Unsurprisingly such conditions adversely affected the principal means whereby the Silver Prize band normally obtained public support. Even when the belated appearance of spring heralded a superbly contrasting and favourable summer season, Band engagements, civic functions apart, appear to have been limited in number thereby restricting the means for supplementing the limited funds of the Band.

Even more fundamental than the disruptive influences of economic austerity, changing fashion and meteorological conditions was the involuntary change to the administrative structure of the Band in the early post war period. For four decades from 1907, the affairs of the Band whilst nominally under the supervisory aegis of the Band Committee had been administered de facto by a ‘benevolent dictatorship’ of the bandmaster, Samuel Marshall. The death of Marshall in 1949 was therefore a watershed in the governance of the Band, a manifestation of which was the recommencement of formal minutes arising from the deliberations of the Committee, after a hiatus of more than quarter of a century.

Following Marshall’s demise Joe Pollard was unanimously selected as the new bandmaster, holding the post until 1954 when poor health compelled his resignation. Simultaneous to the appointment of Pollard steps were taken to form a management committee. Nominated and elected by the votes of attendant members at a general meeting convened in February 1949, an eight man Committee was selected from 19 nominees, together with four officers, being the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. The Chairmanship was conferred upon Tom Tindall who obtained 8 votes compared to 7 for Frank Spencer and 4 for Joe Pollard, Spencer as the runner-up being declared Vice President. The newly elected Secretary was G.W. Hodgson who was to retain the post in unbroken sequence until October 1985. The office of Treasurer was held by T. Clayton and the Committeemen were F. Spencer, S. Rowbottom, R. Heys, E. Ellis, T. Pollard, F. Rowbottom, R. Sarvant and A. Wilde, the latter being selected by a show of hands following a tie with B. Pollard in the votes cast. (2)

The initial task of the committee, with the unanimous approval of the rank and file members, was to arrange a meeting with Marshall executrices and negotiate a settlement concerning Band Funds and repossession of sundry items of equipment surrendered in 1907 as security for the money loaned to the Band by the Marshall family. (3) A delegation of five senior members was deputed to meet the Misses Marshall to seek the transfer of money held on behalf of the Band, together with bills and during correspondence concerning the affairs of the Band. It is indicative of the degree of control exercised by the late bandmaster that the committee appear to have had little idea of the amount of funds held in the name of the Band. It was initially decided to seek the sum of £250 but upon reflection the amount was later advanced to £400. (4)

The negotiations appear to have been of brief duration and resulted in a satisfactory outcome for by late February the delegates were complemented by the Committee upon the settlement obtained. (5)

The original code of rules dating from 1880 was retained as a temporary measure pending the formation of an amended version which was to be displayed in the bandroom for perusal by the membership prior to its adoption. In addition the Treasurer was instructed to make enquiries at the Yorkshire Penny Bank with a view to opening a bank account in respect of which trustees were to be appointed. Committee meetings were scheduled to be held on the first Monday of each month but this date was subsequently changed to the second Monday in order to more easily accommodate members who were shift workers. (6)

The necessary reorganisation of the administrative structure of the Band resulted in a more democratic ambience which was the precursor of further change. At the Annual General Meeting of 1949 a new practice was introduced which allowed non-playing personnel, hitherto not regarded as band members to attend and participate in general meetings. (7) However, the officers and committeemen were all senior members of the Band and although some matters were referred to the whole membership these were of a generalised nature and subject to the discretion of the Committee which formulated policy. (8) The virtual autonomy of the Committee is seen in the occasional delegation of power to the Secretary to undertake business on behalf of the Band in matters affecting the entire membership. (9) The widening of the membership base and accompanying participation in general affairs was nevertheless subject to some qualification. In 1951 voting was formally restricted to all persons 16 years of age or over and while in theory membership of the Band Committee was open to non-playing members it was exclusively composed of senior bandsmen, presumably on the premise that they best appreciated the requirements of the Band and furnished the greatest degree of experience and collective wisdom to fulfil those requirements. To this end a resolution was framed in 1951 excluding all but bandsmen from serving as officers of the Band but was rejected by 8 votes to 5. (10)

The following year new ground was broken when at the suggestion of Brian Pollard, the election of the Committee was conducted by means of a paper ballot in order to cater for members who were unable to attend the A.G.M. (11) It is interesting to note a strong correlation in the result of the election conducted under the new system and that which previously appertained, with five of the committeemen elected in 1951 retaining their places in the balloted election of 1952. (12) The outcome is all the more surprising perhaps as an element of the retiring Committee appears to have been neglectful in attendance, prompting a resolution at the 1952 A.G.M. that

Any Committeemen absent without good cause for 3 consecutive meetings to be relieved of his duties.” (13)

The resolution appears to have had little impact for a Committee meeting later that year was abandoned when only four members were present although the fact that the meeting was held in the holiday season of August may be a contributory factor to the sparse attendance on that occasion. (14)

The contribution made to the welfare of the Band by the wives, mothers and others associated with the bandsmen had always been a feature of Band activity and one made all the more valuable for being largely taken for granted. Whether raising funds or pressing shirts and uniforms, providing and serving refreshments at Band functions or contributing to the morale and physical welfare, the ‘woman’s touch’ was, and remains, an indispensable asset for if, as has been asserted, the character of a band is a reflection of that of its members, the quality of its character is sustained by the contribution of the womenfolk. Recognition of this fact was acknowledged in part by the decision in 1949 to allow ‘friends’ of the Band to attend general meetings. Further acknowledgement of the service rendered by the womenfolk and the desirability of harnessing the potential such service afforded is seen in the Committee’s decision the following year to formalise the arrangement through the establishment of a Ladies Committee. (15) In furtherance of this objective a meeting was convened in the bandroom in February 1951, ostensibly in connection with the organisation of a fund-raising dance. (16) Notwithstanding the apparently satisfactory outcome of the venture further action appears to have been deferred for it was not until the middle of the following year that a formal resolution that

“the ladies be got together to form their own Committee to organise raffles etc.,”

was adopted by the Band Committee. (17) If the resolution appears less than visionary it at least had the merit of providing the Ladies with a formal, semi-autonomous role in the organisation and the resultant establishment of the Ladies Committee was to prove its worth through the provision of substantial support of a practical nature in subsequent decades. (18) It is interesting to note en passant, the retention of a degree of the male chauvinism which had informed the proposed function of the Ladies Committee in 1952 for some five years later it was decided by the Band Committee that the annual dinner at the Golden Lion, Ferrybridge, should be a ‘men only’ event. (19)

In no area was the effect of war time conditions more evident than in the physical appearance of the Band in the years immediately following the conflict. In an effort to rectify the situation the bandmaster, Joe Pollard, suggested the establishment of an instrument and uniform fund. In order to accrue funds quickly it was decided by the Committee that a moiety of all fees obtained from engagements should be placed in the fund. However, the suggestion appears to have met with a lukewarm response from the rank and file members resulting in a compromise whereby the proceeds from engagements were to be disbursed amongst the players to the nearest shilling per capita and the residue transferred to the instrument and uniform fund. (20) It was also decided to embark on a series of tours of the neighbourhood in order to obtain small public donations and whilst application for the necessary police permits was pending a general meeting was called to draw up a schedule to enable regular public collections to be undertaken. (21) The accumulation of money by such means was obviously a slow process and the financial problems of the Band were compounded by the fact that for several years following the end of the war rationing of foodstuffs and materials remained a feature of everyday life which meant that the proposed purchase of uniforms had to be accompanied by a requisite number of clothing coupons. Given the practical difficulties it is perhaps unsurprising that as late as the spring of 1950 the subject of new uniforms was still under consideration and that even at that time it was felt to be necessary to leave it for further consideration. (22)

An article by John Hargreaves which appeared in the local newspaper at that period eloquently summarised the situation;

The Knottingley Silver Prize band uniforms are 20 years old and look it but the Band can’t afford new ones which cost £400… and what has the Band got apart from an insufficient sum raised by its own efforts and the donations of a few friends? Musical skill which is considerable; a spirit if independence which is incorrigible; a Micawberish faith in providence and an almost pathetic eagerness to bring credit to the town… Honour with the knees out – there is the Band’s biggest asset – its public spirit.” (23)

By November 1950 the Band Secretary had made enquiries of the Yorkshire Copper Works’ Band concerning the subject of uniforms and members of the Prize Band had been asked to bring in their existent uniforms for inspection. (24) Following discussion a style specimen was sent to Beevers Ltd., Featherstone, early in the New Year, together with instructions concerning the same. The move was followed up by a visit to the factory by a Band representative in order to ascertain details concerning quality and price. The visit appears to have been non-productive, however, for in April 1951 a decision was taken by the Committee to place an order with the Uniquip company. (25)

The extent to which the article by John Hargreaves had engendered a sympathetic response on the part of the public is conjectural but it seems likely that the outcome was favourable for in May 1951 it was reported that many donations had been received and that before the end of the summer new uniforms, wine in hue with contrasting piping, would be obtained. (26) Recalling the euphoria two decades earlier when the last ‘kitting-out’ took place, Hargreaves humorously wrote;

“Some remember 20 years ago when the silver braid was new how the Band beat 7 bells out of Colonel Bogey and blew hard enough to shatter every window in Chapel Street – Majestic – the judges at Leicester thought so and gave them first prize for deportment.” (27)

A degree of ambivalence and (in a couple of cases) unreliability amongst some members of the Band concerning the procurement of a new uniform resulted in the Committee deciding that;

“Members who have proved themselves enthusiastic be measure immediately with the rest upon whom the Band could (sic) not depend be deferred till such time as they prove themselves worthy and that the period elapsing before they are eventually fixed up with uniform be accepted as a suspensionary (sic) punishment.” (28)

However, following an assurance by the recalcitrant members regarding their future intent it was also agreed to allow them to be measured for new uniforms. (29)

In a proposed break with past practice it was decided to seek a price from a rag mill as a means of disposing of the old uniforms as a single lot. (30) However, an element of the membership sought to have the decision overthrown and it was ultimately decided that each bandsman should retain his old uniform gratis. (31) Whether from pride or mere utility is unclear but wearing the new outfit proved so popular that the Committee took the unprecedented step of posting a notice in the bandroom stating that the new uniforms should only be worn in the service of the Band. (32)

Terry Spencer 2006



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