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Years in Focus




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

22nd March 1961 - Ferrybridge Newsagent
Mr. Norman Winterbottom and his wife Audrey ‘did the town in style’ when they went to London on Monday.

Mr. Winterbottom who has two shops in The Square, Ferrybridge, was a prize-winner in a national ‘lucky dip’ competition held by the magazine ‘Scene’ at the recent Newsagents Fair in Manchester.

He and his wife left their home in Springfield Avenue, Knottingley, on Monday morning by car to catch a train at Doncaster. Their all expense-paid treat included two 10- guinea performances of ‘Sammy going South’ at the Odeon, Leicester Square, followed by a visit to a night club, then back to work on Tuesday.

Mr. Winterbottom who was among 2,000 competitors, told a reporter; "It is the first time I have won anything like this. We have not had a holiday for three years." His wife was "thrilled" at the trip.

13th April 1961 - Fought in Sea Battle
A veteran of the two World Wars, Mr Will Ratcliffe aged 65 of ‘Peacehaven’, Springfields, Knottingley, died at his home on Tuesday. Mr Ratcliffe’s parents had the Cherry Tree Inn for many years, and he served in the Royal Navy during World War I and in the Royal Observer Corps in World War II. In the 1914-18 war Mr Ratcliffe was in the famous battle of the Falkland Islands. He was well known as a supporter of Christ Church.

13th April 1961 - The Late Willie W. Wray
One of a long line of Knottingley greengrocers, Mr Willie Wray, died on Tuesday aged 75. He was a prominent member of Ropewalk Methodist Church and held many official positions there, and was a well known worker for several charitable causes including the hospitals and the Hull Sailors Homes. He was also a member of Toc H. Mr Wray leaves a widow, a son and a daughter. The funeral is to take place today.

13th April 1961 - Comedy
"Sit Down Again Adrian", a three-act comedy, was performed in Ropewalk Methodist Church Hall, Knottingley, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, by the Church Drama Group. All the performances were well attended and proceeds were for trust funds. The producer was Miss M. Burton and those taking part were Misses Kathleen Morris, Jean Rooke, Beryl Drinkwater and Barbara Walker, Mrs Nellie Downing, Mrs S. Coward, Messrs’ Sidney Roe, Blackburn, Stuart Whitwell, Alfred Spiers and Maldwyn Evans.

21st April 1961 - The Oldest Licencee in Knottingley
67 year old Mrs Hannah Brear called "time" for the last time at the Red Lion Inn. She retired after 31 years as the licensee of the inn having started in the trade after leaving school, helping her mother at the Commercial Hotel. She has been a widow for six years.

27th April 1961 - Warren Mill
A mill built at Knottingley about 200 years ago crumbled to the ground last week as demolition workers cleared a site for further housing developments on Knottingley Council’s Warwick Estate. Sails and machinery were removed many years ago when the mill was converted into a house but the property has been unoccupied for several years. It is reputed to have been built by Smeaton, the celebrated engineer who constructed the Eddystone Lighthouse.

C. Forrest, in his book ‘History and Antiquities of Knottingley,’ in the 18th century, surveying for the Calder and Hebble Navigation, says the mill was built in either 1757, 1770 or 1779 – the three occasions on which Smeaton was in the area.

"For some reason, probably that of convenience only, it was removed to a new site behind the mill-house near the river, and again taken back to its old situation on the Warren Hill, about the year 1824, when the Knottingley and Goole canal was made," he writes.

Cr. C. McLaughlan offered to but the building from British Railways some time ago but he was unsuccessful. He wanted to convert the place into a modern dwelling while preserving the exterior structure. Knottingley Urban District Council bought it from British Railways recently.

7th July 1961 - Demolition Orders
Knottingley Urban District Council are to make demolition orders for houses at Kalodyne Terrace, Croft Cottages, Back Lane, Aire Street, Sunny Bank, Taylors Buildings, Chapel Street and Primrose Hill.

14th July 1961 - The Keys to Warren Avenue
The keys to the first 25 houses to be built for sale by the Knottingley Urban District Council were handed over by the Chairman of the Council, Cr W. B. Piper, on Friday, to Mr. and Mrs T.C. O’Rourke who, during their four years of married life, have lived in a caravan on Kershaw Farm, Knottingley. Mr. O’Rourke, a local postman with two daughters is buying a house in Warren Avenue. Cr Piper intimated that in suitable cases an advance of 100% of the purchase price of 1,850 and 1,900, for two bedroomed and three bedroomed houses, will be made by the Council.

4th August 1961 - Housing Management Committee
The housing management committee are to serve Enforcement Notice on owners of land at Kershaw Farm, Knottingley, and to take action on six houses at Hill Top, Fernley Green, Middle Lane and Aire Street, on the grounds of being unfit for habitation.

29th September 1961 - 152,319 Richer After Fantastic Pools Win
London’s streets were paved with gold on Wednesday for 23 year old, 20 a week miner, Mr. Keith Nicholson, of Kershaw Avenue, Airedale, and his 25 year old blonde wife, Vivian. They were in the capital to collect a cheque for 152,319.8s-0d, Mr. Nicholson's winnings on Littlewoods Treble Chance Pools for a four-shilling stake. It was presented to them at Grosvenor House by television star, Bruce Forsyth.

Since Tuesday, three children have played on their grandmother’s doorstep a 100 yards away from their Council house home puzzled by all the excitement. Last night Susan aged 3, William aged 18 months and Howard eight months were expected to be re-united with their parents back from London and richer than they ever dreamed.

Mr. Nicholson guessed he might be a rich man soon after the football results were announced on Saturday. He found there were nine draws and that he had a line on his pool containing eight of them. An excited counter check and then he posted a claim by registered letter and followed it up with a telegram. Though he lives in a house numbered 113, his luck was confirmed on Tuesday and his immediate reaction was to take his dazed young wife on a shopping spree in Leeds.

His winnings were one dividend at 24 points, 144,777, 16 at 23 points, 416 16s,totalling 6,656,16s; eight at 221/2 points 110 14s, totalling 885,12s a total of 152,319,8s. For two years his weekly stake on the pools had been 4s.

Before he left for Grosvenor House, by train, on Wednesday, Mr. Nicholson told reporters that he might study art. His wife would like her own hairdressing and beauty salon, and they may have a holiday on the Continent... and a house in the country. But the children will come first.

Castleford born Mr. Nicholson was brought up by his grandparent's, Mr. and Mrs William George Nicholson, who lived in Wheldon Road until moving into a new house in Borrowdale Drive, Ferry Fryston. His grandfather told the ‘Express’

"Grandma met Keith in Castleford on Saturday night and he told her he thought he had won a large sum. He seemed very calm. Keith has always said he would like to have a farm, now he may get one.''

Mrs Elizabeth Asprey, of Kershaw Avenue, said Keith and his wife - her daughter - seemed dazed by their good luck, she did not know much of his plans. But whatever the final plans of Mr. Nicholson, one thing seems certain, he won't have to work down the pit.

3rd November 1961 - New Shopping Centre

Plans to develop Aire Street, Knottingley, as a new shopping centre are to be abandoned. Instead, the area will be used for residential purposes and inquiries will be made about whether the Hill Top area would be a suitable main shopping centre, with subsidiary facilities in Cow Lane.

The Flatts, which have been the subject of controversy in recent months, are to remain as at present. These proposals were recommended by a special joint committee of the Town Hall, Cemeteries and Open Space Committee with the Housing, Highways, Lighting and Allotment Committee of the Urban District Council. Because of altered circumstances, the Area Planning Officer had intimated that the plans of the Post War Development Committee would need "drastic revision"

In his opinion, Aire Street was no longer the centre of the town, because of developments taking place and the growth of the district, and it was at his suggestion that the meeting agreed to the plans already listed. Before reaching these decisions however, members considered the effect the proposal to build houses in Simpsons Lane and the development of Kellingley Colliery would have on the need for shopping facilities.

22nd December 1961 - Tribute to Engineer
A tribute to Mr. Harry Billbrough, whose death was reported in ‘The Express’ last week, is paid by Mr. K.A. Bagley, the joint managing director of Bagley & Co., Ltd, of Knottingley, with whom Mr. Billbrough was formerly a director.

He recalls that Mr. Billbrough’s first big task was to deal with the installation, operation and development of automatic bottle making machines and that during the whole of his career they remained one of his main concerns.

"While the glass blowers of pre-First World War days may have thought the machines were a big gamble – and continued to do so for many years – the wish was father to the thought, in that they realised the menace to their own manual operations if the machines worked successfully. But it was no gamble in reality, the machines had been proved in the United States of America and in this country in demonstrations".

Mr. Bagley says that the mention of Mr. Billbrough’s father, Mr. Fred Billbrough, brings to mind the first bottle making machines – automatic or semi-automatic – which came to the firm at the end of the 19th century. They were bought from the defunct Ardsley Machine Co., after being developed from primitive beginnings by H.M. Ashley ad Josiah Arnall at Ferrybridge. Fred Billbrough, among others, was responsible for the operation of these machines and in later days with the company was in charge of them. The Billbrough’s – father and son – were intimately concerned with the introduction of machines in the bottle industry during this century.

"But", points out Mr. Bagley, "Harry Billbrough was not only a mechanical engineer. His knowledge of electrical and structural engineering was broad and extensive and this, together with his phenomenal memory for detail in the constructional and operational fields, and his experience on the Continent and America, made him one of the foremost glassmaking engineers of all time."

December 1961 / 5th January 1962
Aire Street Resident Expresses His Concerns

"In February this year I saw in the library a plan of the proposed re-development of Aire Street as a shopping centre, yet at the last meeting of the Council it was said that Aire Street was no longer the centre of the town and that the Hill Top area would be more suitable for the scheme. I hope that everything is not cut and dried by the time the Council names the dates for its meeting with the Aire Street shopkeepers."
Sydney Fowles, Kings Houses, Aire Street, Knottingley.

As reported in the Pontefract and Castleford Express 1961

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