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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)

1978 - 1987

If the criterion for assessing the success of any carnival is public attendance then Carnival Day 1978 must be judged the most successful ever. A crowd estimated at 10,000 witnessed the Queen, Miss Christine Hardgrave, being crowned by the Mayoress of the W.M.D. Council, Mrs A. Noble. The Queen had no less than nine attendants that year: Gail Hanson, Carol Glew, Andrea McFarlane, Ellen Walton, Amanda Wright, Benedict Fox, Jason Limbert, Mark McCreadie and Andrew Gill. In the parade was Mrs Emmerson, soon to celebrate her 100th birthday, while platform guests included Cr. D. Thompson, Deputy Mayor, and Mrs Thompson, together with Dr. E. Marshall M.P., and a local schoolgirl, Linda Purcheon, who had been selected to swim for Britain at Luxemburg the following month. The ladies of the platform party received bouquets and were later entertained along with the Queen and her court at The Close.

The tableaux and fancy dress, as if in reaction to the pomp of the previous year, had a decidedly ‘alternative’ emphasis with titles such as ‘Pink Baby’ and ‘Johnny & Baby Rotten’. The usual fairground attractions were supplemented by displays organised by the Yorkshire Water Authority and the West Yorkshire Police Dog Section, while the perennial favourites: Flower Show, Dog Show and School Sports, also featured. A total of 35 stalls representing local organisations provided another feature of Carnival Day. The previous year stallholders had collectively obtained the sum of £5,000, a total which, given the size of the huge attendance, was to be exceeded in 1978. In conjunction with Carnival Week activities a pie and pea supper was held at Ferrybridge Progressive Club. The handwriting competition was also retained, the entries being judged by Mr. G. Law, Headmaster of the Knottingley High School. The concluding Church Service on Carnival Sunday was made memorable for the poignant rendering of the refrain ‘Absent Brothers’ by a group of 20 members of the Royal & Ancient Order of Buffalos. (141)

Almost the last event in Christine Hardgrave’s ‘reign’ was her attendance at the Featherstone Gala where she assisted the Mayor of W.M.D. Council, Cr. Jack Everson, to judge the winners of the fancy dress competition. (142) The following week Miss Diane Jordan was crowned as Knottingley Carnival Queen, with Deborah Wagstaff, Anita Harrison, Catherine Bourke, Kealy Raynor, Nigel Carrington, Mark Parker, Glyn Burden, Stephen Masters and Robert Crozier as her attendants.

Twenty tableaux led by the Knottingley Silver Prize Band, local marching bands, and the bugles and drums of the Boys’ Brigade, followed the traditional route as far as Chapel Street where owing to the redevelopment of Aire Street, the parade followed the newly constructed road along the line of the Croft. The year was significant for the enlargement of the number of attendants forming the Queens retinue, with boys and girls from every primary school in the Knottingley district being represented. (143) The Queen herself was no stranger to Carnival success having won a fancy dress prize as a ‘Balloon Seller’ at the 1975 event. (144)

Two changes to existing features of the Carnival programme took place in 1979. The handwriting competition was presented under the aegis of the local Road Safety Officer, P.C. Westmorland, and the cakes which formed part of the Flower Show were auctioned by Mr. Eric Rhodes, the proceeds being donated to Carnival funds. The money was supplemented by the proceeds from the sale of programmes which together with sundry donations, covered routine expenditure and left a sum earmarked for the November firework display. (145)

Miss Jacqueline Hick was the chosen Queen in 1980, her attendants being Helen Miller of Roundhill Middle School, Launette Hinchcliffe (Simpsons Lane Middle), Nicola Earl (Throstle Farm), Sarah Groves (Tithe Barn First), Phillipa Garside (Vale Primary), Clive Dean (St. Botolph’s C.of E.) Duncan Murray (St. Michaels R.C.), Ian Hodgson (Ferrybridge First) and Stephen Lightowler (England Lane). (146)

Unfortunately, the summer of 1980 was marked by a protracted industrial dispute involving the N.G.A. print union, as a result of which sporadic interruptions occurred so that on several occasions issues of the local newspapers were unpublished. Thus, the situation of 1959 was repeated and the events of that year’s Carnival went unreported. (147)

By 1980 increasing public awareness of environmental issues had developed within society. It is interesting to note that one of the additional duties undertaken by the Carnival Queen arose from a local environmental campaign. On Friday 22nd June 1980 Jacqueline Hick attended a buffet lunch at which she was presented with a cheque by the General Manager of Rockware Glass Ltd., Mr. Duncan Rotherham, being part of the proceeds obtained from bottles returned for recycling. Throughout the Queens reign the people of Knottingley had placed over 100 tons of glass in a series of skips deployed in various locations within the town, raising a total of £1,000 for the exclusive use of the Carnival Committee. (148) The occasion was the last function undertaken by Jacqueline before the crowning of her successor, Miss Dawn Johnson, as Carnival Queen, 1981.

An addition to the Carnival Week staples was a disco organised by the Warwick Adventure Playground and Simpsons Lane Community Centre which was held on the Friday evening. On Carnival Day the procession was led by the Silver Band with the Townville Boys’ Brigade Band also in attendance. The Queen’s retinue comprised Melanie Haigh (England Lane School), Jill Ireland (St. Botolph's), Cathrine Bourke (St Michaels RC), Claire Powell (Ferrybridge First), Justin Cowley (Roundhill), Stephen Price (Simpsons Lane Middle), Carl Boldy (Vale), Richard Holt (Tithe Barn First) and Colin Wild (Throstle Farm Middle). The Mayor of Wakefield M.D.C., Cr. J. Howarth, crowned the Queen and following the judging of the tableaux and fancy dress competitors, spectators were entertained by demonstrations given by the Knottingley Sports Centre display team and the Castleford Terpsichore Ladies Dancing Team, a funfair and allied attractions, together with the Flower Show. The theme of the arrangements featured in the show was ‘Holidays 81’ with the Tate and Sharpe cups being won by A. Hardingham and the Sarvant Cup by E. Hepworth.

Proceedings were marked by a high injury toll the following year when Miss Maria Walton was the Queen, More than 30 people received treatment, the number of casualties exceeding those of 1971 and 1977 which were years of above average incidence. Fortunately the cases were not of a serious nature but were sufficiently numerous to keep the 21 members of the St John’s Ambulance Corps fully occupied throughout the afternoon. The majority of the accidents involved fairground apparatus. In one incident someone was hit in the eye by a pellet from the rifle range, and a child suffered a head wound from the safety chain of a fairground ride. The ‘Chairoplane’ was alleged to have made people sick and dizzy causing them to stumble and fall upon dismounting, while 32 other visitors were treated for a range of cuts, abrasions, and dislocated fingers and thumbs. The Brigade Superintendent, Mr. Eric Simpson, questioned whether the public safety regulations generally applicable to fair grounds were sufficiently stringent for Carnival fairs but Cr. William O’Brien stated that the funfair had been inspected prior to the event and that the Council was satisfied that legal requirements were met. O’Brien postulated the theory that the hot weather allied to the consumption of alcohol was responsible for the dizziness and said that the Carnival Committee frowned upon the availability of intoxication liquor and had banned bar facilities from the field some years earlier. (149)

The week’s events commenced with the Dog Show on Wednesday followed next evening by the inter school sports. A slight administrative adjustment to the previous programme of events was the inclusion of the handwriting competition within the various classes of the Flower Show, the entries being displayed in the Allotment’s Association’s marquee on Carnival Day. That year the winners of the various competitions for children were presented by the Queen with a bank book containing a cash deposit.

Knottingley High School parents and pupils combined to produce ‘Roman Scandals’ which won the open class tableaux trophy while the ever present Knottingley Cubs came second with ‘St. Trinians’. The Civic Society trophy for children’s entries was won by Knottingley Brownies for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and in the works class, the Springfield's Trophy was awarded to Croda Ltd., the Knottingley chemical company. (150)

The event the following year was declared a “Bumper Success”. The procession featured no less than four bands who led Miss Sarah Heseltine to be crowned by the W.M.D.C., Mayoress, Mrs J. Firth. Lisa Davies, Stephanie Hodgson, Colette Barnes, Nicola Anne Jackson, Ruth Walshaw, John Peter Dockerty and Keith Arden were attendants to the Queen. Other dignitaries in attendance included Dr. Edmund Marshall and Mr Geoff Lofthouse, the respective M.P.s for the Goole and Pontefract & Castleford constituencies. (151) More than 400 children took part in a road safety competition organised by P.C. Brian Westmorland, the local schools’ liaison officer. Prizes were reintroduced for the best decorated cycle and pram as well as those for handwriting and other features included a ‘Bygone Bikes’ exhibition and a disco display. The Flower Show and funfair and amusements added to the gaiety of the event. An abiding memory of Carnival Day which was again favoured with hot weather, was the sight of the Queen sucking an ice cream cone (albeit in a regal manner) and the notable achievement of the late Mr. Sydney Fowles, Secretary of St. Botolph's Childrens’ Society, whose stall raised £51 for the Society. A somewhat unfortunate note, perhaps, was the newspaper report of the inter school sports which were stated to have taken place “on the Social Centre’s playing field”, a comment which, whilst technically correct, sounded a jarring note with many Knottingley residents who recalled the controversy concerning Knottingley Playing Fields in the quite recent past. (152)

“STRIKE GLOOM GIVES WAY TO CARNIVAL FUN”, was the headline which heralded the reign of Miss Jacqueline Burton as the Queen of the 1984 Carnival. Despite the miners’ strike which in its bitterness and hardship was redolent of the dispute which had marked the background of the first ever carnival 58 years before, the crowds turned out to support the event and give the lie to the crass comment that “there is no such things as society.”

The Queen was attended by Andrea May Wilkinson, Claire Powell, June Ann Boyes, Sue Helen Pizzey, Wayne Dixon, Stephen Paul Lyon, Martin Harker, Jason Beggs, and Maurice Campbell. Accompanying the float bearing the new and the retiring Queen and their courtiers was one commemorating the centenary of the N.S.P.C.C. The parade was also notable for the presence of a ‘one man band’, the welcome return of a once common feature of carnivals past.

Jackie Burton was crowned by Cr. Laurie Harrison, Deputy Mayor, W.M.D.C., who was accompanied by the Mayor and Mayoress of Featherstone, Cr. and Mrs J. Stafford, Mr. Geoff Lofthouse, M.P., and the wife of the former M.P., Dr. E. Marshall.

Collectors were out in force on Carnival Day with one individual, Mr. C. Scarlett of Smawthorne Lane, Castleford, collecting £55.47 as the citizens of the Knottingley district in accordance with the best traditions, defied adverse economic conditions and responded generously to ensure the financial viability of the Carnival.

An interesting feature of the week’s events was the accomplishment of Dean Tyler of Ferrybridge who won a flat race in the Carnival Sports for the 6th successive year. The year was also one in which the Olympic Games were held and the influence of the Olympiad was clearly evident at the carnival. A tableau entered by the residents of Racca Green was named ‘Olympaweet’ and Knottingley Cubs entered as the ‘Olympians’. Both entries obtained a second prize in their class but the Carnival Trophy in the adult class was awarded to the Salvation Army tableau with Knottingley Brownies taking the Civic Society Trophy for first place in the Childrens’ section and ‘Nurseryland’ featuring youngsters from Ferrybridge, third. (153)

Throughout its history the organisation of the Carnival has depended upon the efforts of a small but dedicated band of volunteers forming the Carnival Committee. At times, discouraged by a perception of indifference and apathy on the part of the local public, the Committee members have dwindled in number, however, a nucleus of devotees, supplemented by a sprinkling of new recruits, has ensured the survival of the event. Nevertheless, the comment of Cr. Charlie Tate in 1967 concerning “the Few” emphasises the underlying vulnerability and how vital is the contribution of those involved in the planning and organisation of the Carnival. From the mid 1980s the weakness became increasingly apparent and recent decades have been punctuated by occasional years of crisis, threatening to curtail the event. One such year was 1985 when response was so poor that just two weeks before the carnival only two floats had been registered for the procession. The situation was further exacerbated by a dispute within the teaching profession which resulted in the cancellation of the inter school sports thereby reducing the five day programme of events to four. (154) Five years later the carnival was again threatened with extinction when a combination of administrative problems and shortage of cash indicated that the year’s Carnival might be the last, leaving Committee Chairman, Cr. G. Stokes to appeal for greater public support. (155) In each instance, the Carnival, phoenix like, has risen from the ashes of seeming oblivion and has been followed in each case by a period of revived enthusiasm. Yet, continuation has always been against the odds and despite its apparent success, the future of the event remains uncertain and there is a perpetual appeal for new members to join the Committee to ensure its survival.

Notwithstanding its imminent demise, the Carnival of 1985 was a gratifying success. The outcome was particularly gratifying to Maria Walton who as Queen in 1982 had become sufficiently enthused to take a subsequent administrative role. Maria expressed joy at the belated effort of the townspeople which resulted in no less than 11 floats appearing in the Carnival Procession. The parade was led by local bands, the Falcons and the Cudworth Marching Brass & Drum Corps, accompanied by contingents of the Light Infantry Regiment and the Police Force. The Queen, Miss Jayne Hobman, was crowned by local M.P., Geoffrey Lofthouse, and guests included the Mayor and Mayoress of Featherstone, Cr and Mrs R. Smith and their Normanton counterparts, Cr. and Mrs T.A. Shaw, together with Mr. Alan Waites, General Manager, Rockware Glass Ltd.

A boxing display by the Knottingley Central A.B. Club, was a feature of Carnival Day while the Allotment’s Association’s Flower Show drew 50 exhibitors with 211 entries for the various classes. The long established Dog Show was held in the Kellingley (Knottingley) Social Centre and on the preceding Friday evening a swimming gala featuring local children took place in Knottingley Swimming Pool. The inter school sports were cancelled at the last minute, however, when teachers embroiled in a professional dispute stated that they were not prepared to lend their support. (156) The teachers’ decision was to have fatal consequences as the cancellation proved to be of a permanent nature. To add to the travail of the Committee, a disturbance created by a hooligan element within the fairground was sufficiently serious in its nature to warrant several arrests and cause fairground proprietors to withdraw from the Carnival for several future years.

It is a tribute to the members of the Carnival Committee that in spite of such handicaps the 1986 Carnival parade was declared to be “the best ever”. The longest and most colourful parade was preceded by two mounted policemen who were followed by the omnipresent Silver Prize Band together with the Knottingley Youth Band and marching bands from other areas. A total of 15 tableaux, accompanied by decorated cycles and prams and fancy dress competitors took part, defying the threat of rain. A new trophy, presented by Access Cars Taxi Co., together with a £5 prize for the best pedestrian fancy dress, was won by Clair Philips. The judging of the various categories was undertaken by Mr. G. Lofthouse, M.P., and civic heads from Wakefield and Normanton, assisted by Mr. E. Morley, managing Director, Rockware Glass Ltd. The local M.P., also crowned the Queen, Miss Linda Lai.

The perennial Carnival staples, the Dog Show and the Flower Show, featured prominently in the week’s programme of events although early morning rain on Carnival Day affected the number of entries. A substantial police presence kept a low profile to provide public security but fortunately there was no repeat of the disturbances which had marred events the previous year, a fact which may have been aided by the uncertain weather and the absence of the fair.

The absence of the fair not only created a spatial void within the playing fields but also robbed the event of an element of its carnival atmosphere. For the second successive year the local boxing club provided a demonstration, having also promoted the carnival Eve disco. The week’s events also included the revival of the Carnival Service at its conclusion, at which the Carnival Queen, Lind Lai, read the lesson.

Yet despite its successful survival the continuance of the spectacle could by no means be taken for granted and a warning note sounded by Mr Fred Bryan, long serving committeeman, revealed something of the strain imposed upon the dedicated officials by organisational and administrative pressures. Mr Bryan stated his intention to resign from the Committee at the next annual meeting due to ill health, having served for 12 years. Likewise, the plight of Mrs Sheila Wrenshaw was highlighted by Cr. Graham Stokes who pointed out that although Mrs Wrenshaw had formally resigned as Secretary some years earlier she had felt morally obliged to continue in office in the absence of anyone to replace her. Cr. Stokes stated, “It all ended up in her lap again this year and its too much for one person.”

It was emphasised that the carnival was in jeopardy unless new volunteers came forward. (157)

In the face of all portents to the contrary, however, the 1987 Carnival, presided over by the new Queen, Miss Rachel Holt, was described as “exciting and trouble free”.  With 19 floats competing, the entrants were judged by Cr. G. Robinson, Deputy Mayor, W.M.D.C., and his wife, who crowned the Queen, Mr. G. Lofthouse, M.P., and Mr. J. Kelly, Personnel Manager, Rockware Glass Ltd., and other dignitaries. The retinue of the Queen consisted of Rebecca Dew, Joanne Black, Katrina Winchurch, Michelle Butters, Susan Ruberry, Joanne Wilson, Rebecca Wilson, Ryan Hicks, and Nicholas Wainman.

Field events included demonstrations by the Central A.B. Club and the town’s young peoples’ marching bands. A new feature was the appearance of the Radio Aire Roadshow. The Flower Show drew a high standard of entries with Mr. D. Sambrook taking the silver trophy for the Yorkshire Sweet Pea Championship, with the Tate, Sharpe and Sarvant cups all keenly contested. An innovative feature of the mid week events was a rugby tournament held on the Wednesday evening for the James Alexander Memorial Trophy commemorating the former councillor and committeeman who had died a little over a year before. The competition was between teams under 15 years of age and was the inauguration of an annual challenge tournament in which Knottingley Under 15s would play against out of town teams. The inaugural contest resulted in a win for Knottingley who beat Batley by 36 points to 14. (158)

The same year also saw an attempt to establish a Summer gala by the business community of Racca Green. The event, named Midsummer Madness, sought to draw public attention to the shopping and commercial facilities available in the Racca Green area. At the time of the gala it was announced that planning was underway for a ‘Victorian Christmas’ but despite an initial degree of success the scheme appears to have failed to become established as a permanent feature. (159)

Dr. Terry Spencer

To be continued ........



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