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Also by Terry Spencer

The following studies by Terry Spencer are now available on the Knottingley website:

KNOTTINGLEY CARNIVAL
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.

KNOTTLA FLATTS:
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.

KNOTTLA FEAST:
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.

HOSPITAL SUNDAYS:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY COAT-OF-ARMS:
The application by Knottingley Urban District Council for a grant of arms was made to the College of Arms, London, in mid 1942.

FERRYBRIDGE GLASSWORKS:
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.

NINETEENTH CENTURY KNOTTINGLEY:
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

KNOTTINGLEY PLAYING FIELDS:
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.

CAPTAIN PERCY BENTLEY:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY WAR MEMORIAL:
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.

FERRYBRIDGE WAR MEMORIAL:
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.

THE 'K' SISTERS:
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 PALACE CINEMA:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY PUBLIC HOUSES & BREWERIES:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY TOWN HALL CLOCK:
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.

STATUE OF THE BLACK PRINCE:
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.

KNOTTLA NICKNAMES:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY SILVER BAND:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY TOWN HALL:
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.

FIELD SYSTEMS AND PLACE NAMES OF OLD KNOTTINGLEY:
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.

GAZETTEER OF KNOTTINGLEY PLACE NAMES:
An A-Z listing of Knottingley field and place names.

LIME GROVE AND THE CARTER FAMILY
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.

WAR SAVINGS WEEKS:
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.

SELECT VESTRY RIOTS 1874:
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

ASPECTS OF CIVIL ADMINISTRATION AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN

NINETEENTH CENTURY KNOTTINGLEY


By TERRY SPENCER B.A. (HONS), Ph D.

Preliminary Draft May 2005

INTRODUCTION

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. (1)

By the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066 the settlement had acquired the status of a manorial vill.

The first documentation concerning the settlement is an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 which reveals the Baret, a Saxon thane, had been dismissed as the manorial head and replaced by the Norman, Ranolf, a sub tenant of the de Lacy’s, Tenants in Chief to William I and lords of the honour of Pontefract of which Knottingley was a constituent part. (2)

With the death of Henry de Lacy in 1311 the lordship of Pontefract became the fiefdom of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who inherited the holding through his marriage to Alice, daughter of Henry de Lacy. Thereafter Knottingley was to remain a manor of the Lancasters’ and following the seizure of the crown by Henry Bolingbroke in 1399, the manorial vill became Crown land. (3)

From the early middle ages the vill although expanding, had a significance far beyond its size for the erection of a mill on the river bank to the west of the manorial demesne necessitated the construction of a weir across the waterway to provide the motive power to drive the mill wheel. Consequently, navigation of the waterway above the mill dam was curtailed, necessitating the transhipment of all goods and materials below that point. As a result, the manor of Knottingley became an important inland river port having a dual capacity as the port which serviced the hinterland of the West Riding of Yorkshire and also as the base from which the nearby fortress of Pontefract Castle was victualled.

The decline and demise of the feudal system from the fourteenth century set in motion the reorganisation of feudal obligations and the redistribution of land holdings. The redistribution of manorial land at Knottingley carried an important benefit for at an earlier time, the origins of which are obscure, the tenant in chief had granted freehold status to all land with the manorial vill for a singular service rendered to him by the inhabitants. (4)

The dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 made large tracts of land available to the Crown which from the sixteenth century was sold to subsidise the extravagant lifestyle of the impecunious Tudor and early Stuart monarchs. The manor of Knottingley was held by the Wildbore family from whom it eventually passed to one Grimsditch who had married the daughter of Richard Wildbore.

The Grimsditch family were of yeoman stock, not particularly wealthy, and when one of the sons incurred substantial debts the only recourse was to sell part of the manorial holding. Thus, by the seventeenth century the manor of Knottingley had been divided into four separate holdings, one part being held by John Grimsditch, a second by Stephen Grimsditch, tenant of one of the recently created Cridling Park farms, a third portion was held by John Wildbore and the remaining land by Richard Smyth, all being of yeoman stock. (5)

In 1637 Sir Arthur Ingram, a nouveau rich capitalist of a type engendered by the spirit of that era, having financial interests in the township and its vicinity, purchased the manorial rights at Knottingley and installed his nephew and namesake in a newly built manor house at Hill Top, close to the mansion of the Wildbores’ which stood adjacent to St. Botolph’s Church. (6)

For 150 years from 1637, the manor of Knottingley was in the possession of the Ingrams and their descendants but following the demise of the Rev. Gooderick Ingram in 1787 the manor was again sub divided and at the time of the enclosure survey in 1795 the manorial lands were held by the families of Frank, Wasney, Poole and Thompson. (7)

The limestone extraction industry whilst long established within and around the township of Knottingley developed rapidly from the mid-eighteenth century stimulating land purchase. As a result, by the first decade of the nineteenth century much of the manorial land, particularly within the former open field to the south of the town, had been acquired by limestone merchants such as Edward Gaggs, William Moorhouse and Benjamin Atkinson, who by virtue of wealth obtained through their varied business interests, were the leading figures in the social and economic life of Knottingley.

The rise of Knottingley as a significant river port involved with the coastal and inland trade from the fourteenth century also encouraged the introduction of local shipbuilding and allied trades as a corollary to the maritime activity. Thus, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the place was a hive of activity with the potential for further industrial and commercial development stimulated by the rapid progress of the Industrial Revolution. Yet despite the developing trends the settlement at that time was little more than an extensive village, predominantly agricultural and pastoral in nature, retaining many aspects of its rural characteristics, its low lying verdant fields, limestone buildings, and gardens hanging above the craggy quarries with their gently smoking kilns and with numerous keels and sloops swaying peacefully at anchor on the river Aire. (8) The sense of timelessness and romanticism which produced the picturesque scene was, however, superficial for beneath the surface, poverty, squalor and disease marked the daily life of the majority of the inhabitants bringing hardship and suffering in profusion while the lack of a common standard of hygiene produced periodic epidemics from which even the more socially detached wealthy middle class citizens within the town were not immune. Consequently, by the advent of the nineteenth century an admix of national legislation and local self interest combined to produce somewhat grudging measures of poor relief and social and civic improvement designed to alleviate the worst conditions faced by the populace.

The course of the nineteenth century was therefore a period of transformation from ancient to modern township so that by the advent of the following century Knottingley was a prosperous industrial centre characterised by the pride of its inhabitants in the town to which they belonged.

It is the purpose of this study to examine specific aspects of the developing township during the nineteenth century to reveal the course of the transformation and its effect upon the people of that age.

©2005 Dr. Terry Spencer


| INDEX | INTRODUCTION | CHAPTER ONE | CHAPTER TWO | CHAPTER THREE | CHAPTER FOUR |
| CHAPTER FIVE | CHAPTER SIX | CHAPTER SEVEN |
CHAPTER EIGHT | CHAPTER NINE | CHAPTER TEN |


 

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