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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)

1970 - 1977

The first year of the new decade featured Miss Margaret Rhodes as Carnival Queen and a return to Coronation Street for a guest start to crown her. In fact Graham Habberfield who played ‘Gerry Booth’ in the television series, crowned the Queen three times! Realising he had placed the crown the wrong way around on the head of the Queen, ‘Gerry’ removed it and re-crowned her, claiming a second legal kiss for so doing. Unfortunately, the crown promptly feel off into the lap of the Queen so she was duly crowned a third time and ‘Gerry’ took a third kiss as a reward for his ineptitude (or stratagem?) Also present with the Queen and her attendants were Councillor Philip Furniss, Chairman of the K.U.D.C., Councillor W. Sarvant, who compered the proceedings, and Mrs Patricia Guy, the Kellingley Colliery Queen.

Wrestling again featured in the Carnival programme but to the intense relief of the Secretary of the Carnival Committee, Mrs G. Beaumont, and the Committee members, there was no repeat of the hooliganism which had occurred the previous year. The Secretary of the Allotments Association, Mr. Frank Truman, announced that there were 137 entries for the Flower Show which included sandwich cake competitions featuring decorated and undecorated items. The show proved to be a personal triumph for Mr. J. Glendenning who won both the Tate and Sharpe trophies. Mrs G. Lawson was awarded the Sarvant Cup for a novel flower composition depicting the ‘Weather Forecast’. The Baby Show and Sports rounded off the entertainment for the estimated 2,000 spectators. (127)

The financial success of the carnival during the 1960s had led to an annual payment of 50p per head to each of the town’s senior citizens from the surplus funds. Unfortunately, due to diminished attendance, the 1970 Carnival was not an economic success and in consequence no payment could be made that year. Despite being the 13th Carnival since the resumption of the event, the 1971 Carnival was successful and the Committee were able to resume the payments to the old people of the town.

Miss Hazel Williamson was the Queen in 1971 and was crowned by Richard Whiteley of Yorkshire Television’s regional news review. ‘Calendar’. Whiteley took advantage of the occasion to announce the engagement of the Queen, thus making the event doubly memorable for all concerned.

While there were fewer floats that year the fancy dress section drew a record number of entries. Mrs Kathleen Tucker pre-empted the Carnival by going round the town in her fancy dress and raising the sum of £30 in the process and then crowned her endeavour by winning second prize in her class in the fancy dress competition. The wrestling of former years was replaced in 1971 by a demonstration by Knottingley Tae Kwando Club whose members broke bricks and other durable materials using only their bare hands. The year was also remarkable for the demand made upon the services of the 9 man contingent of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, an organisation which (like the Prize Band) was always present on public occasions within the town and district and whose contribution was invariably overlooked due to its silent and unsung presence. How valuable the contribution made by the Corps was clearly shown in 1971 when in the period 2.00pm – 6.00pm, 26 accidents were attended to with three cases referred to Pontefract General Infirmary. (128)

Disappointingly, only four floats appeared in the Carnival procession of 1972. The event took place in Howards Field, drawing an attendance of 6,000 people and raising in excess of £1,000. The crowd witnessed the crowning of the Queen, Miss Glynis Roby, by Dave Lee Travis, the B.B.C. Radio One disc jockey. The event was a great success and was made all the more remarkable by the fact that malicious minded ‘saboteurs’ had attempted to undermine the efforts of the Committee by placing ‘cancelled’ stickers over posters advertising the Carnival. Furthermore, the anonymous ‘wreckers’ had telephoned members of the Committee to inform them that Dave Lee Travis would not be appearing. A further adversity concerning the event was the failure of a local group, which had volunteered to man the entrance gates, to turn up for duty. (129)

The success of Featherstone Rovers in winning the Rugby League Challenge Cup at Wembley in 1973 resulted in the team’s star international forward, Knottingley born Jim Thompson, being invited to crown the Queen, Miss Deborah Bradford, that year, a somewhat ironic gesture as Thompson had played a significant part in ‘de-crowning’ Bradford [Northern] at Wembley a few weeks earlier.

Restored to the Playing Fields, the event was a success with an increase in the number of tableaux, no less than eight being prize winners. (130) Yet despite the success of 1973, the stalwarts of the Carnival Committee were in need of a greater degree of active participation by the public in the organisation of the event. To this end an open meeting for interested parties was called at the new K.U.D.C. offices at The Close, Hill Top, on the evening of Friday 12th June 1974, to discuss future plans. In an effort to stimulate participation in the organisation and planning, Councillor W. O’Brien announced that the local Trades Council would co-ordinate the efforts of any local organisations prepared to participate in the Carnival. However, to the dismay of the promoters, the meeting was sparsely attended. (131) The Trades Council therefore called a second meeting later that month with a view to holding a Carnival in September. The second meeting drew a better attendance and as a result it was agreed to reorganise the Carnival format. The proposal was to hold a series of events throughout the course of a designated Carnival Week, culminating in a Carnival Day Gala on the final Saturday. The format was one that had applied successfully during the Savings Weeks of the Second World War. (132)

A change in the method of selecting the Carnival Queen also took place in 1974 when 16 year old Julie Mowbray, a Fifth Former at Knottingley High School, was selected by the votes of her peers from 8 candidates.

The Carnival, which took place on Saturday 21st September, was described by Councillor W. O’Brien as being, “better than anything since the war” and belied all the problems which only a few months earlier had made doubtful its existence. A mile long parade of tableaux and novelties was again led by the Silver Prize Band accompanied by the Lofthouse Colliery band and with music from a steam organ for good measure. The 19 floats fell into three categories and were judged by the local G.P., Dr. E. Murphy, Dr. Edmund Marshall, M.P., and Councillor J. Cranswick, Chairman of W.M.D.C (Knottingley Council having become defunct that year upon reorganisation of the local government structure and being superseded by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council). A shield for the best overall entry was awarded to the people of the Cherry Tree Old Peoples’ Bungalows for the Tableau ‘Down Memory Lane’. Organised by the wardens, Mr & Mrs R. Howarth, the float depicted a Victorian pub scene complete with upright piano and wrought iron tables and chairs which Mr. Howarth had travelled far to obtain. (133) The steam organ had been deployed throughout the town on Carnival Eve by members of Hill Top Workingmens’ Club who had collected more than £100. Attractions on Carnival Day included fairground rides and stalls, fireworks and tug of war, the event attracting 4,000 spectators. During the week a gym display by youths from Pollington Borstal, a swimming display and a seven a side indoor football tournament held at Knottingley Swimming Pool and Sports Centre, were among the Carnival attractions. Sunday featured a Carnival Service at St. Botolphs Church conducted by the Vicar, Rev. John Stuart Pearson, with lessons read by Mr. R. Sambrook and Cr. W. O’Brien, of the Carnival Committee.

Committee ’75 ensured that the Carnival reverted to July the following year when Miss Elaine Burton was chosen from the High School candidates to be the Carnival Queen. The format was basically that of the previous year with a Dog Show in the Town Hall attracting 167 entries. On the Friday evening a grand concert was given by pupils of Knottingley High School and St. Botolphs Middle School. Unfortunately the outdoor events fared less well, particularly the inter school sports held on Thursday evening which attracted an attendance of 2,000. A violent thunderstorm interrupted the proceedings and in the space of five minutes washed out an event which local teachers had spent seven months organising and which, but for the rain, was expected to obtain an attendance of 4,000.

An innovative feature of Carnival Week was a Town Trail Walk organised by Knottingley & District Civic Society and led by Mr. S. Roebuck, former headmaster of the Ropewalk Secondary School. The threat of an imminent thunderstorm minimised attendance however, while another event to suffer the effect of bad weather was the Flower Show which although held indoors at Kellingley Social Club, suffered in both the number of entries and attendance.

Twenty-one tableaux made up the Carnival Day Procession in which one of the features was a guest appearance by the New Silkworth Skyliners Juvenile Jazz Band, 24 girls from Sunderland resplendent in orange and white uniforms. Such marching bands are a popular feature in the North East of England and the presence of the Skyliners at the Carnival was a clear indication of the assimilation into the cultural life of Knottingley of the substantial influx of families from the North of England who had settled in the town after the opening of Kellingley Colliery in the mid-1960s. Indeed, the influence of the Skyliners was manifest at Carnivals every year thereafter and is still present today, with both the locally based Emblems Jazz Band and visiting ensembles participating annually.

Another Sunderland based band, the Townend Farm Scottish Grenadiers, led by baton twirling Drum Major, Ann Jones, gave a fine marching display at the 1976 Carnival and were later presented with a plaque by the Carnival Committee Chairman, Cr. Jack Sellars. (135) The following year the Knottingley Emblems and guest band the Washington Blue Diamonds, led 15 tableaux from Hazel Road, Warwick Estate, to the parade assembly point at Ferrybridge (136) and in 1979 the Emblems were joined in the Carnival procession by the Falcons Juvenile Marching Band. (137) Likewise, the Kellingley Pipe Band, another example of cross cultural musical influence, participated in several Carnival Day parades from 1976.

Other features of interest in 1975 were a karate display, a trampoline display by girls of the High School, a display of weaponry by the Army and an exhibition of old fashioned bicycles belonging to Mr Auty of Featherstone. The ever popular tug of war was won by Knottingley Rugby Union Club while a 20 entry bowls tournament provided less energetic competition. Carnival Day concluded with a firework display and the following day the Carnival Church Service, conducted by Rev. J.S. Pearson with F. Kirkby and E. Solomons reading the lessons, rounded off the week’s activities.

More of the same was the pattern of events in 1976 when the five day festival attracted enthusiastic crowds. The Dog Show in the Town Hall on Wednesday opened the proceedings and this was followed by the inter schools sports in the Playing Fields on Thursday evening when a large crowd enjoyed 38 events. The sports proved to be a triumph for Throstle Farm First and Middle Schools, each winning the shield for overall best in their group. The knock-out bowls tournament was won by Mr. D. Horton who received the McLaughlan Cup, presented by Mr. Brian Reeves, while the annual Flower Show also took place on Carnival Day. The lessons at the Carnival Service the following day were read by Messrs Sellars and Sharp.

Carnival Day was opened by the Mayor of the W.M.D. Council, Cr. Kennington, who, assisted by his wife, crowned Miss Tina Baker as Queen.

Among several tug of war teams, Knottingley Rugby Union proved victorious for the second consecutive year. The day’s attractions also featured a repeat of the trampoline display which had proved so popular the year before. Sports for the town’s schoolchildren were sponsored by Knottingley Central Workingmens’ Club, with money prizes presented by the committeemen. The feature was an extension of the sponsorship the previous year when the Club had awarded trophies for specific events to pupils of Knottingley High School.

A Carnival Dance and Social Evening took place at the Hill Top Workingmens’ Club on the eve of the Carnival to generate funds for the Carnival for although the fun fair in the Carnival Field was accompanied by numerous stalls, the money raised by the latter was for independent causes, not Carnival funds. For example, the stall of the Knottingley & District Civic Society raised funds to defray the expense of staging an exhibition in the Town Hall entitled ‘ Knottingley & Ferrybridge Through The Years’, later that month.

The undoubted highlight of Carnival Day 1976 was a display by the Blue Eagles Skydivers. Owing to delay at Yeadon the exciting event took place later than planned. Of the five man parachute team, two landed on target in the Playing Fields, two dropped in nearby England Lane and one in Spawd Bone Lane, but all landed safely.

Jubilee Year exerted an obvious influence on the carnival in 1977 when Miss Gillian Maeer was proclaimed as Carnival Queen. The Queen’s attendants were Alison Firth, Lyn Fort, Jean Sarah Prentice, Marina Thomas, Wendy Wilkinson, Michael Marchant and Andrew Spence. The main parade that year was preceded by a preliminary procession from Warwick Estate to the Ferrybridge assembly point, the kilted Kellingley Pipe Band’s outfit standing in contrast to the no less smart but more formally tailored blue uniforms of the Knottingley Silver Prize Band.

Six prizes were awarded to tableaux and fancy dress entrants, bearing topical titles such as ‘Silver Jubilee Street Party’, ‘Henry VIII’, ‘Victoria & Elizabeth’, with a special prize to toddler Sandra Walshaw, appearing as ‘Jubilee Queen’ and another, value £30, to Knottingley Cricket Club for its float ‘Silver Jubilee Christmas’.

The Jubilee was also marked by the introduction of a handwriting competition for local schoolchildren, the content being a message to H.M. Queen Elizabeth from the people of Knottingley, with the three winning entries being forwarded to Buckingham Palace. Two new trophies were presented in conjunction with the competition, to be retained by the schools of the winning pupils. The first prize and cup in the 11-12 year old category was won by Elaine Brown and the 8-10 year group winner was Victoria Barrack. Kathryn Law and Alan Cooling were 2nd and 3rd in the senior section and Julia Mason and Sarah Hodgson were runners up in the younger section. (139)

The Carnival Service of 1977 proved to be exceptionally well attended and although provisional arrangements were made for extra seating these were inadequate and many of the congregation had to stand throughout the service at which one of the lessons was read by the carnival Queen.

Once again Carnival Day celebrations were notable for more than the usual number of accidents, with which the local St. John’s Ambulance Brigade under the leadership of Mr. Eric Simpson, successfully coped. (140)

Dr. Terry Spencer



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