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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

KNOTTINGLEY, Circa 1840 - 2003
Volume One (2003)

1935 -1938

The following year Miss Norah Blaney again appeared as the guest star at a selection concert and dance and chose Miss Jennie Cartwright as Carnival Queen 1935. The price of admission to the function varied, with seats at one shilling, 9d and 6d, with a booking fee of 3d for seats reserved in advance. Admission to the dance was one shilling more and booking was advisable for the event, held in the Town Hall on the evening of Friday 17th June, was crowded.

Accompanying the special guest on the platform were Mrs J. Brown, wife of Cr. J. Brown, and Dr. and Mrs Gillbanks of Ferrybridge. The judging took place in the interval between the concert and the dance, thereby facilitating the removal of the chairs from the main hall. Following the selection of the new queen all the candidates were invited for refreshments in the Council Chamber as guests of the Chairman, Cr. H. Gregg and Council members. (85)

Glorious weather drew hundreds to the Carnival. The Queen, looking regal in a dress of white crepe de chine and carrying a bouquet of pink carnations and ferns was attended by four small maids; Irene Austerberry, Alma Horton, Mary Robinson and Joan Pickersgill, all dressed in pea green outfits. The retiring Queen, Iris Harker and her maids were also in attendance, Miss Harker, incidentally, being a friend and colleague of the new Queen. (86)

The Queen was crowned by Lady Nussey, wife of Sir Willans Nussey, Bt., former M.P. for the Pontefract division for some 17 years.

The subsequent programme of events followed the by now well established pattern, drawing a large attendance. A notable feature of the proceedings was the entry of Mr. E. Lunn of Wath who as ‘Scarecrow’ was awarded joint first place with W. Sarvant (‘Our Gang’), in the comic character category, marking Lunn’s 400th success in gala competitions. There was a noticeable decline in the equestrian category with only three entrants for the best groomed horse drawing a vehicle in the procession. The winner was Alf (‘Farmer’) Robinson with E. Eskrett, second and T. Rowley, representing G. Goulding, third. Goulding also obtained first prize in the open competition for the best decorated tableau on a dray or lorry, with ‘By the Old Rustic Bridge’. The award to Mr. Goulding replicated the success of the previous year when a decorated dray, ‘Carnival Farm’, won a special prize and he also won third prize for the best groomed horse. (87)

The childrens’ open fancy dress competition was won by John Machin who had been third in that category two years before, dressed as ‘Snakecharmer’. Second place was awarded to William John Wood, topically depicting a ‘Belisha Beacon’, recently introduced as a safety element on Britain’s road system. First prize in the local childrens’ fancy dress class went to Irene Cawthorne as ‘Miss Lavender’ with Jean Harrod in second place as ‘Miss 1880’. The Cawthorn family were regular participants in the competition and keen supporters of the Carnival, a trait continued by young Irene who a quarter of a century later as the wife of Cr. Charles Tate, Carnival Committee Chairman, played a significant part in the organisation of events during the 1960s and 1970s and lent her name to one of the Flower Show’s prestigious trophies, the Tait Cup.

First prize in the juvenile tableaux in 1935 again went to the National School with ‘Rose Fairy & Attendants’, marking the school’s third successive triumph. Once again Weeland Road School came second with ‘Butterflyland’. The trade prize went for the second successive year to the Crystal Glass Co., for its ‘Crystaltynt’ display and in a further repeat of the previous years event, Bagley & Co., Ltd., came second with another topical item; ‘Silver Jubilee’. (88)

Since its introduction, the Carnival had on the whole, enjoyed good weather but in 1936 the event was plagued by a series of light showers. That year, for the first time, the Carnival was not held at its accustomed location but at a field in Common Lane lent by Mr. Downing of the nearby Thistleton Farm. The procession featured the Queen, Miss Mary Middleton, who rode in a gold and white coach. The Queen was attired in robes of white satin lined with gold and with a cluster of satin roses at the neck. The dress, donated by Mr. E.J. Lee, was complimented by a bouquet of gardenias and fern and a headdress of gold leaves. The Queen’s attendants, Jean Wake, Gladys Baxter, Lilian Gripton and Sheila Pickersgill, wore white crepe de suede and carried posies of marigolds.

The crowning ceremony was thrown into some confusion when it was discovered that the crown was missing. Mrs G. Lyon of Whitley Lodge therefore resourcefully used the Queens headdress to facilitate the crowning. When, later in the afternoon, the real crown was discovered, a second crowning occurred. The missing crown turned out to be in the possession of the retiring Queen, Jennie Cartwright, who had been left waiting with her attendants for the arrival of a coach to enable them to join the procession but as the vehicle had not arrived, had been left stranded with the crown.

At the second crowning ceremony which took place in the tea tent, Mrs Lyon said the double crowning was a potent of a double degree of luck for the Carnival. Apologising for the oversight later that day, Mr Jackson Morris explained that the local committee had no control over the circumstances which had resulted in the lack of transportation and that Miss Cartwright had graciously accepted the explanation and apology.

The procession in 1936 was one of the largest ever seen in the town, the efforts of the Silver Prize Band being augmented by two or three comic bands whose “lack of musical skill was tempered by unbounded enthusiasm.”

The winners of the Comic Band competition were the ‘Hiking Hildas’, conducted by J. Johnson. Yet again, the childrens’ tableaux prize was won by the National School with Weeland Road School again in their familiar second place. The adult tableaux prize was taken by Jackson Bros., and the Pontefract Industrial Co-Operative Society achieved a double with first prizes for the tradesmens’ turnout and the best groomed horse pulling a vehicle. (89)

Some tableaux were an interesting reflection of aspects of the events which featured in the national news at that time. One float depicted the new luxury liner ‘Queen Mary’, another the Canadian Quins whose birth that year attracted world interest.

It is interesting to note the advance of technology in respect of the public address system for amplifying equipment supplied by Evans & Griffiths of Askern, was used for the first time at a local event that year. Previously a somewhat makeshift system had applied as in 1933 when a dancing display by pupils of Misses Walker and Waddington had been supplemented by piano music and un-amplified gramophone records. Amplification from the same source was utilised the following year which was memorable for the “announcer in chief”, Mr. G. Lightowler, whose humorous comments and topical interjections kept the crowd in rare good humour. Again, in 1938, musical selections by the Silver Prize Band were supplemented by the amplified sound from a radio gram. (90)

Heavy rain affected the Carnival for three consecutive years from 1937. In that year large crowds besieged the Town Hall long before the doors opened on the occasion of the selection of the Carnival Queen. The crowd witnessed the arrival of ‘Miss Yorkshire’, Miss Beryl Hartley of Halifax, before being entertained by an excellent variety concert.

The Chairman of the K.U.D.C., Cr. J. Jackson, J.P., presided over the judging of the competition for which there were no less than 45 entrants. In his opening remarks, the Chairman referred to the fact that in the person of Miss Marjorie Baines the town already had a budding film star, and stated that, “no one knew whether the town might yet produce a Gracie Fields or a Greta Garbo

Competitors paraded in three groups and thereby were eventually reduced to three in number by Mr. T.T.P. Sherwood of Wakefield, who was at the inaugural competition in 1932. The final choice lay between Miss Olive Hart, Miss Rose Walker and Miss Irene Turpin, the latter being announced as the winner to popular acclaim.

The newly proclaimed Queen and the retiring Queen and their attendants, together with the distinguished guests, who included Mr. J.E. Underwood, who had arranged the evening in his capacity as Secretary of the local Infirmary Committee, J.A. McDonald, President, and the Chairman of the P.G.I. Management Committee, Cr. Jackson Morris, then retired to the Council Chamber where they were entertained to supper by the Council Chairman and fellow councillors.

The event concluded with a dance in which the current and prospective Queens participated to music by the Rhythm Pioneers, a Knottingley ensemble. (91)

A torrential downpour on the eve of the Carnival left a legacy of heavy showers and a cold wind on Carnival Day. Consequently, the streets were not as lavishly decorated as usual but a brave show was made by the residents of Jacksonville, Hill Top, and Low Green and the Flatts were well decorated. By Saturday lunchtime the sun had broken through sufficiently to permit hundreds to view the procession as it wound its way round the town. The Queen, Irene Turpin, wore an ivory satin dress with a cloak of crepe de chine which was provided by Mr. and Mrs H. Barker. The attendants, Vera Richards, Nellie Hardy, Joan Blakebrough and Nancy Whitwell, were dressed in Margaret Rose pink with Juliet caps and carried matching muffs. The retiring Queen and her attendants also featured in the parade. The Queen was crowned by Mrs J. Jackson, wife of the K.U.D.C. Chairman.

Competitors in the Carnival parade were less numerous in 1937 than in previous years but lack of numbers was more than compensated for in terms of variability and originality. One invariable feature was, however, the award of first prize to the National School Juniors for the childrens’ tableaux, while in a repeat of the situation in 1934, the National School Infants obtained the second prize. The feeling of déjà vu was reinforced by the fact that the Crystal Glass Company repeated its success by obtaining the first prize in the open class adult tableaux while the Pontefract Co-Operative Society held on to the prize for the best groomed horse in the parade and also for the best turned-out in the works/tradesmens’ category. Best adult comic character was Mr. G.T. Glasby and William Bagley and Eric Jackson of Dewsbury won the respective local and open classes of the childrens’ fancy dress competition. (92)

The Carnival sports were as popular and efficiently organised as on previous occasions but there was a discernable decline in the number of carnival entrants which probably reflected the increasingly sombre public mood as political developments unfolded on mainland Europe and compounded the anxieties and stress caused by mass unemployment and its ensuing poverty.

The adult sports which took place in the evening were notable for one ‘blip’ when as a result of ‘jockying’ for position by the six competitors in the 220 yards event, three were prevented from participating and the race was ordered to be re-run. A cup, named as the carter Cup, was presented that year by Hill Top Workingmens’ Club to the winner of the one mile flat handicap race, open to all comers, the winner and first recipient being S. Girling of Newbald. (93)

A repeat of the bad weather conditions in 1938 prompted the opinion that, “Few could have quarrelled if the Infirmary Committee had postponed the event after heavy rains during the week and a gale with the threat of more rain on Saturday.”

The heavy rain on Friday prevented many townsfolk from decorating their premises but in a short time on Saturday morning they made a brave show and it was noted, “There is something of pride about a township of the size of Knottingley raising over £1,000 for medical charities in four successive years.

So the parade, to the original venue, Braims Field, in West Ings (Gas Works) Lane, went ahead with the new Carnival Queen, Gladys Pollard, and her predecessor, Irene Turpin, and their respective retinues, where the new Queen was crowned by Mrs H.W. Marshall, widow of the recently deceased Chairman of the PGI Management Committee. The Infirmary Matron, Miss F. Thompson, accompanied Mrs Marshall and the link with the neighbouring Borough was reinforced by the fact that the dress the Queen wore was donated by the Pontefract Industrial Co-Operative Society Ltd.

While the Carnival drew a good attendance the Gala section was less well patronised than the adult sports which as usual took place in the evening and drew a large crowd despite uncomfortable conditions for a “cold wind blew in the late evening and only excitement could have kept the spectators warm.”

In passing, it is of interest to note how the shadow of war was already beginning to encroach upon the consciousness of local people for the best tableaux prize in 1938 was awarded to a group of workers from Jackson’s Glassworks whose theme was ‘A.R.P’, (Air Raid Patrol). (94)

A change occurred in the juvenile tableaux section in 1938 when the Ropewalk Senior School gained first prize for ‘Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs’, breaking the long held monopoly of the National School. In second place was ‘Blossom Time’ the entry of the Knottingley (Christ Church) Guides. A change also occurred in the tradesmens’ section which was won by South Yorkshire Motors of Pontefract.

The childrens’ fancy dress, Knottingley section, was won by Irene Hart’s ‘Little Old Lady’, with Brenda Walker’s ‘Prairy Flower’, second. The lure of the Carnival over a wide area is reflected in the entries for the open class events from both adults and children residing well beyond the Knottingley area. The childrens’ fancy dress, open section, was won by Mary Wood of Batley as a ‘Flower Girl’. The runner-up being Bessie Wignal of Garforth, with ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. ‘Foreigners’ also took the prizes in the open class adult fancy dress competition. Bert Machin of Normanton emulated his previous Carnival success with ‘Chu Chin Chow’ placed first. Annie Wood, of Batley, ‘Snake Dancer’ came second and the third prize went to Kathleen Wood of Garforth with the intriguingly titled ‘The Patchwork Quilt That Grandma Made’.

The comic dress open event prize went to E. Lunn and W.H. Wroe as ‘The Silent Twins’, while in the under 14 open class, Pamela Farrer as ‘Charlie’s Aunt’ won the prize. In the class for Knottingley residents, J. Beckham and E. Cartwright of Morley Estate won as ‘Rags & Tatters’.

Dr. Terry Spencer

NOTES: (Open in new window)

To be continued ........



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