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Years in Focus 1880




Knottingley in the 1960's as seen in the Pontefract and Castleford Express

21st February 1880

On Friday last a serious accident occurred at Skew Bridge where the Aire and Calder Co. are to erect a new iron structure in place of the old bridge over the canal. A number of workmen were engaged in driving a pile when Joe Bradley, happened to be passing near to the apparatus. A huge heavy weight called a ''Tup'' in falling upon the pile, struck him severely. He was at once taken home by conveyance and attended to by Dr. Stone, and although the unfortunate man is gradually recovering he is still in a precarious condition.

28th February 1880
Musical entertainment in town hall

On Tuesday evening last, a musical entertainment was given in the Town Hall by Mr. J.W. Harman. A very interesting programme was given consisting of Sea Songs of Old England, incidents in nautical life, and sailors yarns. 

Of the entertainment we cannot speak too highly. Mr. Harman is a host in himself for an evening's amusement and on this occasion proved himself to be a man of extraordinary ability, As a vocalist he sings with ease, pleasure and in good style. He has a fine baritone voice of great range and knows well how to compass it. His rendering of the songs, especially the ‘Death of Nelson’, ’The Bay of Biscay’, and ‘Rule Britannia’, secured for him the well-merited applause of the audience. His recitals of the sailors yarns and incidents in connection with the jolly tars was at times approaching the melodramatic. 

The audience was unusually large, and the interest was sustained for nearly two hours, while the applause was enthusiastic. Mr. John Addy, of Knottingley, presided at the pianoforte, This was pronounced by all to be the best entertainment of the season.

10th April 1880

Yesterday morning week, the day after the Pontefract election, the people of Ferrybridge and Knottingley gave expressions to their feelings by a monster procession. It was ascertained by the workpeople in the employ of Mr. Woolfe (one of the victorious candidates) that he would arrive at Ferrybridge House at about 11.30. The London Road to the toll-bar was literally lined with spectators who assembled at this junction by many hundreds. 

About 12 o' clock, the Mayor of Pontefract, with Mr. Arundal, solicitor, and Mr. Woolfe, M.P., were seen in the distance. As they approached the four lane ends, a large motto was placed across the highway, printed in large letters, ‘Welcome Home’, and the Knottingley Brass Band struck up ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’. 

At Ferrybridge the crowd had grown into thousands of men, women, and children. The Mayor took away the horses from the carriage and proceeded through Ferrybridge to Hilltop, passed on to Knottingley, and passed down the lower part of the town and called at Messrs. Bagley and Wild's Glassworks. Messrs. Chilsers and Woolfe addressed a few words of congratulation and the procession moved on, led by the band, to the residence of Mr. Woolfe, Ferrybridge House. 

Mr. Childers here again on behalf of Mr. Woolfe and himself, expressed to the crowd their gratitude for the noble way they had worked for the victory they had gained, and the reception they had that morning given them. Three cheers were then given for Mr. Childers, Mrs Childers, Mr. Woolfe, Mrs Woolfe, and the Queen, and the procession dispersed.

5th June 1880

On Tuesday about 60 orphans, with their brass band, from the Port of Hull sailors Orphan Home, visited Knottingley. After parading the town in the afternoon, followed by a great crowd, they were entertained to an excellent tea in the Town Hall. In the evening they gave a concert, when the large hall was densely packed with an enthusiastic audience, who were evidently delighted and astonished with the performance of the juvenile band. A report and a list of local subscribers was read by Mr. Worfolk.

There are 220 boys and girls, including 62 orphans of fishermen and 4 from Knottingley, at present enjoying the benefits of this noble institution. Mr. Poole gave a graphic account of his mission work among the sailors of Goole, and the Reverend J. Crawford ably spoke of the claims the sailors orphans has upon the sympathy and support of all classes of society, incidentally stating that 32% of watermen annually meet with a watery grave. The Reverend T. Greenbury, previous to singing the ‘Death of Nelson’, proposed best thanks to the meeting be given to the North East Railway Company for their kindness in providing special accommodation for the orphans, and allowing them to travel at a greatly reduced fare in their recent tour of the West Riding. 

The contributions, together with five guineas collected in boxes by the boys in the streets, amounted to 16.18s, which sum was further increased to 20 by the liberality of a gentleman present. After proposing a vote of thanks to the Chairman for presiding, this interesting meeting was brought to a close by the band playing with much precision and heartiness the National Anthem. The boys were taken to the houses of friends for the night and proceeded next morning in conveyance to Goole.

12th June 1880

A duel has taken place on the Belgium border between two Noblemen ; The Marquis da Gil de Olivares and Comte de Lardi. Swords were the chosen weapon and the encounter, which arose out of a political discussion, resulted in the Comte being killed. His adversary, a Spanish Duellist of renown, killed a man in a duel last year.

19th June 1880

Tomorrow being the accession of Queen Victoria to the Throne, there will be a service in the Parish Church at which at the morning devotions, the accession service will be used. There will be only an ordinary service in the morning, as the 3rd West Light Militia will have left the town. The recruits of the 1st West Light Militia, however, will attend, and it is also expected that the Mayor and Corporation will form part of the congregation.

26th June 1880

On Sunday last, a petition to the House of Commons in support of Sunday Closing of Public Houses, was placed in front of the Wesleyan Chapel and was signed by some 200 members of the congregation.

31st July 1880

This event is usually looked forward to with a lively interest by the inhabitants of the village, and this year is no exception to the rule. If anything, the doings at this holiday are likely to be on a greater scale than ever. The Flatts will again be covered with Shows, Bazaars, Shooting Galleries, Stalls, Swinging Boats, a menagerie, and last but not least, Vickers ‘Temple of Drama’ which at this time of year is always here. There will also be three Cricket Matches. There is therefore a fair prospect of a lively time at Knottingley during the next few days.

7th August 1880

Festivities of Various kinds have been held this week to commemorate what is popularly known has ‘The Feast’. At this time of year the reunion of families takes place. Sons and daughters visit their parents, and friends long parted meet again to "enjoy the hospitalities of each others table".

The Feast is to the people living in this neighbourhood the greatest event of the year. It attracts crowds from the outlying villages, for whose enjoyment all kinds of amusements are provided. The large piece of waste land opposite the old river, and known as the Flatts, presents a very busy and animated appearance. Here during the feast the theatre has been close to the shooting galleries, the swing boats, to the wild beast show. There has been no lack of bustle and noise, Hurdy -Gurdies mingled with the blatant trombone and the ear-piercing gongs have presented the noisiest and most discordant sounds. Mr. Vickers theatre, at which spicey, sensational melodramas have been played, has been crowded every night. There was a trip to Manchester on Monday, another to Scarborough on Tuesday, three cricket matches, two galas in the cricket field, and a ball held at the Town Hall three nights this week. Altogether during the last few days the people living here have had a lively time of it.

7th August 1880

The teachers and scholars of the schools connected with the Christ Church, Knottingley, and many of their parents and friends, numbering altogether about 300, had a very enjoyable outing on Wednesday. They were conveyed by two of Mr. Brandford's keels, decked out for the occasion, to Whitley Lock, and the weather being beautifully fine, the trip on the water afforded very great pleasure to the excursionists.

On landing, the party wended their way to some fields, prettily situated, lent by Mr. Eadon of Whitley Bridge, and there they spent the rest of the day in healthy recreation and innocent amusement. A capital tea was provided by Mr Dewar, confectioner, Knottingley, and it was thoroughly enjoyed. Shortly after 7 o'clock the party returned to the boats and came home, singing hymns on the way, and listening to a short address delivered by the Rev. John Crawford, Vicar of the parish of Knottingley East. The young people enjoyed themselves to their hearts content.

14th August 1880

In accordance with a custom which has been established for several years, Mr. Vickers, the proprietor of the theatre, gave a tea at the Buck Inn, Knottingley, on Thursday, to all the old women in the village above 60 who chose to accept the invitation to it. He also gave them entertainment at the theatre. 

No one does better at Knottingley Feast than Mr. Vickers whose theatre during his stay has been crowded nightly.

21st August 1880

The Aire and Calder Navigation Company are making rapid progress towards completing the scheme for vessels of large dimensions to proceed up the canal. 

The Skew Bridge at Knottingley, which was the first of it's kind to be erected in Yorkshire, has been taken down and the span widened to an extent of 40ft on the water. Across this is being thrown immense wrought iron girders weighing 17 tons each. The second of these has been placed in position and the bridge, which will contain 100 tons of iron, will form an imposing object on the canal. 

It is the third bridge being erected and is an evidence of the enterprising spirit of the company. Vessels of 180 feet in length can now pass up the canal but when the bridge and locks are widened, ships of very large size will be able to pass the bridges, two at one time, and much easier than before. Vessels from London and the continent will be able to proceed to Leeds and Wakefield direct without having to tranship the cargo either at Hull or Goole, which will expedite delivery and be of great advantage to the mercantile community.

18th September 1880

Mr. Sydney Woolfe, M.P., has, with his usual liberality, forwarded a donation of 4 towards defraying the expenses of the late Sunday School Centenary celebrations.

16th October 1880

The Knottingley Mechanics Institute, not like many institutions of a similar kind, has continued through many discouragements to exist and flourish since it's establishment more than 25 years ago to the present time - some years since Mr. Sydney Woolfe kindly consented to be President and devoted much time and energy to the success of the society. More pressing duties however devolving on him in his public life as a Member of Parliament, he was succeeded by Mr. M. Stainsby, who has ably supplied his place. 

We are glad to say the Institution is flourishing, having a large number of members who are accommodated at the Town Hall with a reading room in which are supplied the daily and other papers, with a capital library. In the winter season lectures and concerts are given. 

The opening entertainment was given on Tuesday evening in the Town Hall, in the shape of a concert, which was largely attended by a respectable audience. The chair was taken by Mr. Stainsby, who, after a few remarks, introduced the Glee Class, which has attained great proficiency under the leadership of Mr. Plowman. The part song ‘Mark the Merry Elves’ was first rendered, and was executed with great precision. Miss Earnshaw, of Pontefract, gave ‘Juanita’ in her usual capital style and was loudly applauded. The Glee class gave ‘Sweet and Low’ which was followed by a song entitled ‘The Day When You'll Forget Me’ by Miss Witton, which was loudly cheered. Mr. R Hurst gave the recitation ‘Dream of Eugene Aram’ in a style which showed he possessed histrionic talent of no mean order. It was evidently an imitation of Henry Irving of the Lyceum Theatre, and had the effect of bringing down a rapturous encore to which he responded by giving the pathetic piece entitled ‘Little Jim’ which was also fully appreciated. The first part of the entertainment finished with ‘Queen of the Night’ by the Glee class, which was warmly received. We should say here that Miss Ingle of Cridling Stubbs, presided at the pianoforte with her usual ability.

30th October 1880

The pretty little church in the Croft, East Knottingley, was quite filled with spectators on Monday morning, who had assembled to witness the marriage of Miss Fanny Witton to Mr. Frank Wild, eldest son of Mr. John Wild, of the firm Messrs. Bagley Wild and Company. The church was beautifully decorated for the occasion. 

The bride wore a cream-coloured cashmere dress, trimmed with satin and orange blossom, and the brides-maids, (Miss H. Witton, sister of the bride, and Miss Sybil Wild, sister of the bridegroom) wore dresses of pale blue cashmere, trimmed with swans down. Mr. Walter Eccles of Leeds, was the best man and the Rev. Crawford, the vicar, officiated. 

After the ceremony a large party sat down to breakfast at the residence of the brides father, after which the happy pair departed on their wedding tour. In honour of the event the workpeople of the company were entertained on Monday evening in the large warehouse at the works. During the day flags were flying in various parts of the town.

13th November 1880

A new football club has been started here in Knottingley. The same practice in the cricket field, better known as Howard’s Field. Already there are a good number of members.

Years in Focus is researched by Maurice Haigh and reproduced 
with the permission of the Pontefract & Castleford Express.

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