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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.




“They say that Macnamara’s
Was the finest in the land
But we know a damn sight better,
It was Sammy Marshall’s band…..

 …They played everywhere at Christmas
- as traditional as mince pies,
And they must have been quite special
To earn the logo ‘Silver Prize’.”

Frank Webster Chambers
‘A Memory Jog: Further Memories of Old Knottingley
Carey J. Chambers (ed), (1995)

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. (1) However, a subsequent documentary source has been located which indicates that the genesis of the Band may lie much further in the past.

The records of the long defunct Knottingley Brewery Co. reveal that in April 1861 the proprietor, John Carter, made a donation to Knottingley Town Band. (2) There is clear evidence therefore that a band was in existence early in the second half of the nineteenth century and as the name ‘Knottingley Town’ or ‘Knottingley Brass Band’ was commonly used prior to the adoption of the title ‘Knottingley Silver Prize Band’ early the following century, it would suggest that the year 1880 merely marked the reorganisation of the Band which was already well established by that date.

The roots of brass band history are lost in time but immediate influences date from the late eighteenth century when the growing popularity of fairs and markets increasingly became the haunts of musicians. A simultaneous development was the growth of church bands as small groups of parishioners banded together to provide musical accompaniments for divine worship. The musical nucleus was forged into a cohesive whole by the advent of the Industrial Revolution which by the early nineteenth century as an antidote to the harsh drabness of working class life, engendered the genesis of small bands which were to develop as an important element of popular working class culture in many small towns and villages. Numerous brass and reed bands were formed at that period, with many having but a short existence. Others, however, such as Kippax village band, established in 1814, proved more durable and thrived in the burgeoning atmosphere of national security and patriotic pride which characterised the Victorian era.

Nominally subscription bands were primarily of working class membership and dependant upon the financial support of working class communities. Such bands were also of economic necessity, open to the patronage of the local gentry. Thus, the involvement and by extension, influence of the middle classes was a clearly discernible element in the development of local ensembles.

The middle class squire-archy and aspirant capitalist manufacturers, mindful of the excesses and social consequences of the French Revolution of 1789 and fearful of the latent power of the growing industrial proletariat in England, regarded music as a force of good; a device by which the masses might be gentled and pacified. To this purpose they actively supported the formation of community bands and in so doing became the arbiters of musical taste subliminally defining a basic repertoire of selections from operas, marches, waltzes and polkas.

Simultaneous technical and commercial revolutions accompanied and influenced developing social trends. From the mid nineteenth century the process of mass production assisted the manufacture of cheaper instruments while the invention of the piston valve and its application to musical instruments made such instruments relatively easier to play and was therefore fundamental to the increase in the number of bands formed as the century progressed. (3)

Such bands were frequently associated with local inns which in addition to affording the facility for practice in convivial surroundings also provided adequate space for the storage of instruments. The bands were supported and encouraged by brewers and publicans keen to promote entertainment and stimulate the sale of ale. Money for the purchase of instruments and music stands was commonly raised by public subscription and by loans from wealthy patrons who also often owned the premises which served as a bandroom. (4) Thus, there is a distinct possibility that the beginnings of Knottingley Town Band were subject to such an arrangement and this is further reinforced by the known link with the Carter family and with St. Botolph’s Church with which that family were so prominently associated throughout the nineteenth century.

Of the formative years of the Band there is little specific evidence and it is only following the establishment of the Pontefract Advertiser late in 1863 that snippets of news began to appear concerning the activities of the Band. A newspaper report of November 1874, for instance, states that Knottingley Brass Band played for dancing in Knottingley Town Hall until 11.00pm. (5) More seditiously, perhaps, is a report the year following that the Band led George Knapton and his supporters from Knottingley railway station to the Town Hall following Knapton’s release from prison where he had spent a month in detention for illegally voting in an election for the town guardians. Knapton was met at the station by an open conveyance and was triumphantly led through the streets by the Band. At the Town Hall, Knapton was presented with a purse containing £20 by Sidney Woolf Esq., earthenware manufacturer of Ferrybridge Pottery, one of the successful electoral candidates in whose interest Knapton had broken the law. (6)

The month before, the Band had played at the opening match of Knottingley Town Cricket Club following its relocation to Banks Garth, the occasion being marked by a match between the married and single men of the town. (7) The event was but the first in which the Band appeared at the Banks Garth cricket field and marked the beginning of a mutually supportive bond between the Band and the Club throughout subsequent decades.

As early as the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Band was already engaged on a well established routine, elements of which are still discernible today. For example, in 1875 the Band paraded the streets of Knottingley on Christmas morning, playing carols, and annual event designed to provide festive cheer and simultaneously take advantage of the season of goodwill to replenish the coffers of the Band. (8)

A further annual engagement was the ‘send off’ provided by the Band on the occasion of the annual Sunday School trip for the teachers and pupils of St. Botolph’s Church. On occasion, the Band actually accompanied the trippers on their out of town excursions, as in August 1885 when a convoy of eight wagonettes travelled to Womersley park headed by the Band which played as they left Knottingley and as they entered Womersley, and then repeated the performance on the return journey. (9)

In the winter of 1885-86 the Band appeared in a series of entertainments given in the National Schoolroom, promoted by the Vicar of St. Botolph’s, Rev. F.E. Egerton. (10) Again, in 1885, the Band made what was described as, “their annual church parade” on Whit Sunday morning and shortly after noon the following day accompanied the Sunday School pupils under the direction of Mr. Starr, walking in procession through the town and singing hymns at the residences of principal members of the St. Botolph’s congregation. By 4.00pm, the rounds being completed, both Band and scholars sat down to “a well provided tea” in the schoolroom. The procession then reformed and marched to Grange Field, the Hill Top residence of Mrs Hannah Martha Carter, widow of the erstwhile brewery owner, where games took place as the Ban played selections of music to “the great delight of all present.”

Finally, after the singing of a favourite hymn and a round of cheers by the pupils for Mrs Carter, the Vicar, the Sunday School teachers (plus one for themselves), the Band struck up with the National Anthem to mark the end of a very busy day. (11) Undaunted, the following year the Band again accompanied the St. Botolph’s Sunday School trip, this time on a visit to Nostell Priory. (12)

Regardless of any patronage which may have been bestowed by the Carter family or other benefactors, the Band has, from its earliest days down to the present time, been largely self-supporting, relying upon the skill and enthusiasm of its members to elicit the patronage of the local population. That support from this source has generally been forthcoming is largely due to the esteem in which the Band has been held by the public because of its readiness to support any occasion, civic or social within the town and district, particularly events held for charitable purposes. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the case of fundraising for the district medical charities which served the local population.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century the custom had developed of holding an annual parade with the Town Band leading representatives of the various friendly societies through the main thoroughfares of the town as collectors sought random contributions from bystanders in support of organisations such as Pontefract Dispensary, Leeds Infirmary and Askern Spa Medicinal Baths. Thus, in 1881, the Town Band led members of twenty lodges of the Oddfellows Friendly Society in a march round the town as a preliminary to a service held in the Ropewalk Wesleyan Chapel. Frequent heavy showers resulted in the temporary abandonment of the parade but following the service, the group reformed and visited the areas unattended earlier that day. (13)

A variation of the fund raising activity of the Band is also evident from an earlier engagement at which, on Monday and Tuesday, 23-24 August 1880, the Knottingley Town Band played for dancing at Ferrybridge feast and gala which was held in support of the medical establishments. (14)

The Oddfellows, Buffalos and kindred organisations within the town formed the Knottingley Charitable Institutions Committee which by 1884 had extended the number of charitable events held within the town throughout the year including a gala event to coincide with Feast Week activities on and around August Bank Holiday each year. The earliest recorded gala concert was held at Grange Field, adjacent to the residence of Mrs Hannah Martha Carter, in 1884. Within a few years the event had been transformed, becoming an annual Hospital Sunday parade and demonstration with which the Town Band was to be associated for over half a century. (15) However, throughout the decade of the 1880s there appears to have been a hiatus concerning the Town Band’s involvement with the annual parade and demonstration, the rival Bagley’s Glassworks Band being regular participants in the event. (16)

The ‘Glasshouse’ band was formed by the employees of Messrs Bagley Wild & Co., whose glass bottle factory had introduced the industry to Knottingley in May 1871. (17) The precise date of the establishment of the Glassworks Band is not known but the indications are that it was formed in the early 1880s for a report in the Pontefract & Castleford Express, dated August 1883, states that: -

“The Brass Band of Bagley, Wild & Co., under conductor, Mr. John Shaw, paraded the town on Saturday and Monday and played well indeed considering the short time Mr. Jerry Johnson of Castleford, the teacher, has had them under his tuition.” (18)

Although entitled a ‘brass band’ reference to it as a ‘Brass and reed band’ is found in a report of a concert performance which took place on Knottingley Flatts in June 1884, under “their able bandmaster, Mr John Shaw”, when the efforts of the band were stated to be “highly appreciated”, (19) as they no doubt were when the band participated in a service at Christ Church, Knottingley, the same month. (20)

The move to establish a glassworks band may have precipitated the reorganisation of the Town Band in 1882. Certainly, there exists at least one source which connects certain personalities with both organisations. Recalling days of yore in newspaper correspondence in 1977, Mrs Hodgson Walker referred to her father, John Hartley Shaw, as the former bandmaster of the Town Band at the same time when Sam and Jack Marshall were tutors. Other familial members of “the first Knottingley Brass Band” to be mentioned were the Hargraves, Drapers, Rowbottoms and the Pollards. Extant documentary evidence links individuals from the above named families with subsequent membership of the Town Band and it would appear, therefore, that for reasons which are unclear, a ‘breakaway’ occurred in 1882, with John Shaw and perhaps others, leaving the Town Band to form the band of Bagley, Wild & Co., thus necessitating the reorganisation of the Town Band and prompting the subsequent but erroneous impression that the Band was established at that date. (21)

The existence of two bands within the town, each frequently referred to in the local press as ‘Knottingley Brass Band’, makes definition of their individual activities almost impossible during the ensuing decades. Indeed, the common nomenclature serves to suggest that the Town Band and the Works Band and their common link with John Shaw, were one and the same. Such is not the case, however, for aprt from the historical evidence that the Town Band was in existence some twenty years before the formation of the Works Band (indeed, a decade before the existence of the glassworks with which the latter was associated) there is clear proof that they were separate entities.

Continued on page two...



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