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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.




The fees tendered by the Band for engagements during the 1950s were somewhat random, depending on the nature of the event concerned and the distance of the venues involved. By 1956 for example, a series of Sunday concerts commanded the following fees:

Pontefract & Castleford: £30
Wakefield: £35
Leeds: £40

and these charges remained unchanged to the end of the decade. (94) Similarly, Loscoe Carnival, 1952 and 1953, and Methley Carnival in 1953 and 1954 were charged at £20 respectively although the fee for the latter event in 1951 was £17-10-0. (95) Other engagements during the decade were likewise charged in accordance with the time spent fulfilling the required duties and the expense involved in travelling to the event. An outdoor Labour day celebration at Goole in 1951 brought a fee of £15 while a church fete at Ferrybridge was undertaken for £8-10-0 and an indoor concert at Westgate Common Club, Wakefield, as late as 1959 was undertaken for only £7. (96) Such engagements were punctuated with concerts at local hospitals and social institutions for which, in the best traditions of service to the community, no fee was sought. (97)

To place the purchasing power of fees in a comparative context it should be noted that in 1953 a pound sterling would have bought 16 pints of beer compared to half a pint in 2003, or 15 portions of fish and chips and 39 large loaves of bread compared to half a portion and two loaves half a century later. (98)

Throughout the early years of the 1950s the Ladies Committee was involved quite frequently in organising dances to secure funds for the Band. Knottingley Town Hall was the regular venue with two such events during 1951. (99) Again, in 1955 some 20 posters were commissioned to advertise the event, the price of admission being 2s 6d and the success of the vent resulted in its replication the following year. (100) It is interesting to note that the music for dancing was provided by the locally based Dominoes Dance Band, a far cry from the less sophisticated pre war era when the ‘Orchestral’ component of the Prize Band provided the dance music. (101)

By the mid 1950s the effect of television programmes which had gained a wider audience with the introduction of the commercial channels in 1955, had fostered the desire for home entertainment which was complemented by the introduction by Davenports of the ‘beer at home’ delivery service. In addition, an increasing element of the public became vehicle owners at this period and were able to travel far afield in search of new, more novel forms of entertainment and pleasure. By the end of the decade traditional forms of entertainment such as sport, cinema, public houses, concerts and dances had lost much of their earlier appeal. The tow latter forms of entertainment were consequently rendered less useful as a source of funding for the Band and although a dance was held in the Town Hall under the auspices of the Band as late as February 1958, thereafter such occasions were merely a memory. (102)

It is sad to note a degree of indiscipline was prevalent within the ranks of the Band during the immediate post war period. A reaction to the constraints of wartime and the psychological effect of regime change combined with a change in the attitude of the public in general towards deference to authority based upon wealth and its concomitant social status, may lie at the root of the situation. In an effort to remedy the malaise the Committee decreed in 1949 that the Bandmaster should address the members and stress the need for more satisfactory rehearsals, a sine qua non for successful contests to which the Band aspired. (103) The unauthorised swapping of instruments was a further aspect of indiscipline requiring prohibition if consistency of performance was to be achieved (104) but much more serious was the evident disrespect of some members resulting in a proposal by the Vice Chairman

That anyone insulting or guilty of insubordination toward the Bandmaster
be dealt with by the Committee
.” (105)

At a Committee meeting held in October 1949 a decision was taken to call a general meeting as soon as possible on “business of vital importance.” The subject of the meeting is unspecified and no minutes appear to have been taken but it is not improbable that the meeting was related to rank and file attitude and conduct. Indeed, despite attempts at corrective action, problems with two members in particular persisted for the best part of a decade. (106) Undependability allied to a refusal to observe rules led to threats of disciplinary action culminating in expulsion (107) followed by reinstatement only for the offending parties to err again before the “spasmodic availability” and “past somewhat troublesome record” resulted in a ‘round robin’ being signed by the entire membership, dispensing with the services of one of the recalcitrant only for one dismissed party to be admitted at a later date. (108)

It is clear that the tolerance shown to such members was not due to moral weakness on the part of the Committee but from reliance upon their musical ability at a time when rebuilding was taking place but was far from complete. For this reason disciplinary action was frequently postponed until after a particular event. (109)
A degree of indiscipline as shown it turning up late for rehearsals has been a perpetual problem within the Band but during the 1950s non-attendance for protracted periods was a problem to the extent that the Secretary was occasionally called upon to ascertain whether absentee bandsmen had any future intention of attending at all. As late as 1959 the concern of the Committee resulted in the decision to keep a register and deal with anyone who missed 25% of rehearsals in any six month period. (110)

Indications of the long term effect of wartime disruption is clearly evident in the degree of improvisation during the decade from 1945 with ‘blooding’ of inexperienced players, recruitment of new members and negotiations for the appearance of guest players as an interim measure. Thus it is recorded that:

A.W. to play the drum at Cliffe and receive a full share” [of the fee], and “P.M. to be given one month’s trial and then be a full member if successful”, and that “E.E. be asked to join the Band as a ‘pumper-up.

Meanwhile, the Secretary was to “interview C.B. with a view to him playing B-B flat at the Leicester concert”, and with regard to a forthcoming event, negotiate for “a trombone player to be engaged on terms to be arranged.” (111)

As late as 1951 it was necessary for the Band to seek assistance in order to fulfil engagements, particularly in the case of the Festival of Britain gala event and in one case the Secretary wrote to the commanding officer of the bandsman who was undergoing National Service to seek leave for the player to appear with the Band at a forthcoming contest. (112)

A ‘Youth Policy’ was seen as a necessity for long-term growth and stability, the more so as several long serving members were contemplating retirement from the Band on grounds of age. Frank Spencer, Tom Tingle, Billy Rowbottom and C. Jackson all resigned during the ‘Fifties and early ‘Sixties. (113) Fortunately, admittances kept pace with departures and by the mid 1960s when Tom Pollard and Roland Hey retired the Band had a complement of 24 members, the youngest of whom was only ten years of age. (114)

One area of recruitment of young people was through an approach to the headmaster of the local secondary school, Mr. S. Roebuck, to see his assistance regarding the provision of potential learners. The Committee also decided to establish a beginner’s class and in anticipation of this measure agreed to purchase six B-flat cornets suitable for use by junior bandsmen. (115) the scale of the project was obviously far too demanding to be left solely in the hands of the bandmaster, no matter how efficient or willing to bear the burden. competent members were therefore enlisted from within the ranks of the Band to assist in teaching learners and featuring instruments other than the cornet and Terry Clayton and E Ashley volunteered to teach and played a significant part in the promotion of ‘young blood’ within the Band. (116)

A further aspect of functional reform commencing in the post war period was the attempt to rebuild the Band music library. Owing to the lack of adequate supervision members had adopted a very casual attitude to items belonging to the Band library and in June 1949 it was decreed by the Committee that, “all music taken from the Bandroom [is] to be signed for.”

A donation by Joe and Brian Pollard enabled the purchase of several new scores at that time (117) but the need to appoint a librarian with personal responsibility for cataloguing and maintaining and ordering new scores does not appear to have been considered, perhaps because of the reluctance of anyone to volunteer for the duty. It was therefore not until 1965 that Raymond Hodgson, son of the then Secretary, and one of the younger bandsmen, became the librarian. It was resolved that, “all members [are] to seek out and return all Band music so that an assessment of the library can be made.” (118)

The desire for a comprehensive ‘tidying-up’ is manifest from the early 1950s and applied to the public appearance of the Band as well as to the internal aspects of discipline as shown by a resolution concerning the image of the Band when on parade, with the injunction that the; “Bandmaster [is] to pay special attention to the step adopted when the Band sets off on the march, to ensure the proper formation is maintained.” (119)

The problems and privations experienced by the Band in the aftermath of the war did not prevent it contesting. On the 18th May 1946 the band was awarded 3rd prize in the Open Championships at Bell Vue, Manchester, in which 28 bands representing the northern counties took part. Despite being depleted by war service the test piece ‘Hereward’ was rendered by an ensemble in which all but two members had been taught by Sammy Marshall. Owing to an administrative error a rival band was named in 3rd place and Knottingley Band was left on tenterhooks until an official correction was made. (120)

The Band was less successful in the North Eastern Championships held in the Belgrave Hall, Leeds, on Saturday 6th May 1950. Competing in the Fourth Section the Band drew the 25th playing order out of 21 contesting bands which meant a six hour wait before being called upon to play. The Band, with 170 marks out of 200 was well down the list, the winner being the City of York Band with 190 marks. In an echo of former days, Mr. A.H. Whitehead of Sturton, Leeds, had been engaged as guest conductor for the occasion. (121)

In the contest held at the same venue the following year the band was again unplaced, gaining 173 points out of 200, but the contest proved valuable experience for several young players for whom the occasion provided and initiation in competitive playing. (122)

For the Daily Herald sponsored contests in 1952 the Band was reinforced by the appearance of at least one guest player. In addition, Band practice was extended to cover two evenings per week. (123) The Band took part in several contests each year, at Osset, at Halifax and at Huddersfield on the 14th March 1953, conducted on each occasion by Mr. Whitehead. (124) Several of the above events were under the aegis of the West Riding Brass Band Society of which Knottingley Band was a long established member. Others were organised by the Halifax Brass Band Society. (125) The events were very much a learning experience for the members of the Silver Prize Band as shown by the post contest evaluation following the Osset contest in October 1953 which was described as being “enjoyable and successful.” (126)

The Daily Herald contest at Huddersfield on the 13th March 1954 also appears to have been successful and in its wake A.H. Whitehead was presented with an inscribed watch-metronome. (127) That year the Band again entered the Belle Vue contest in May. Leaving Knottingley by coach at 8.30am, the Band held a pre-contest practice, sharing a rehearsal room with the Featherstone Band. The contest culminated with a firework display enjoyed by the bandsmen and supporters before the return trip. (128)

The year 1954 was an exceptionally successful one and by August the Band had already won six trophies. The degree of success had resulted in an approach being made to the Harrogate Brass Band Association to stage a contest in Knottingley Town Hall and on Saturday 25th September 1954 the event took place under the adjudication of Mr. J. Broadbent of Huddersfield. The contest comprised two sections with the hosts competing with six other bands in the first section. Five bands featured in the second section. The draw for playing took place at 2.30pm with Knottingley Band being drawn fifth in their section. The contest got underway at 3.00pm. Each section had its own awards. First position in the first section secured the Highley Cup with the Hawkes Cup and the Hawley Cup being awarded to the second and third placed bands. In the second section the three trophies were the Green Shield, York Cup and Smith’s Cup. In addition, each section had a first and second award for the bands which were successful in the rendition of a march.

The winning band in the first section, playing the test piece ‘Moments of Wagner’, was Altofts Colliery Band, conducted by C. Wilkinson. Knottingley, under Whitehead, took second place and Kippax Old Band came third. Second section winner, playing ‘Beautiful Britain’ was the Morley Legion Band with Leeds City Band second. Arrangements were made by the Knottingley Band secretary for the ensembles to be photographed on the occasion of the ‘home’ contest with the six currently held trophies prominently displayed. (129)

Terry Spencer 2006

To be continued.....



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