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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

KNOTTINGLEY HOSPITAL SUNDAYS


FROM FAIRS, FESTIVALS, AND FROLICS,
KNOTTINGLEY, circa 1840 – 2003

Volume One (2003)


By Dr TERRY SPENCER B.A (Hons), Ph d


PAGE ONE

Dedicated to PETER GREENWOOD
In grateful appreciation of his unbounded enthusiasm, unwavering encouragement
and unstinting assistance in the preparation of this study

"If, as has often been written, there is more pleasure in giving than in receiving, then Knottingley folk should find life indeed pleasurable, for to them it seems the cause of charity is a powerful inspiration to sustained giving – whether it be in money, kind or effort."
Pontefract Advertiser 12th July 1930

"Knottingley has a name for helping charity."
Pontefract and Castleford Express 17th July 1931

"There is something of pride about a township the size of Knottingley raising £1,000 for medical charities in four successive years."
Pontefract and Castleford Express 15th July 1938

"The Infirmary needs YOUR money today –
YOU may need the Infirmary tomorrow."
Knottingley Carnival Programme 1935

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. Established on a philanthropic basis and maintained by voluntary subscriptions these institutions were a boon to the indigent working class and quickly grew to be revered as dependable havens for those in need of treatment and succour. (1)

From the beginning the hospitals depended upon the donations of private individuals and regular subscriptions by local business and commercial organisations. Payments were also made by trade unions and friendly societies to ensure availability of treatment and care for their members. Similarly, donations by civic institutions such as town councils and select vestries to enable workhouse inmates and recipients of parish relief to qualify for medical care was a further element of financial support from the mid nineteenth century. (2) A further contribution was provided by the fund-raising efforts of various local communities.

The latter had its origin in the Hospital Sunday Movement which began in Birmingham in 1798 when an anonymous writer to Aris’s Birmingham Gazette suggested that an annual collection be made in all churches and chapels for charitable purposes. The proposal gained immediate acceptance but after a few years the practice was discontinued. However, in 1859 the idea was revived. From that date Hospital Sunday was increasingly observed throughout the country and by the last quarter of the century had become a national institution. (3)

Pontefract Dispensary published annual reports from 1812 but the earliest record of organised fund-raising at Knottingley dates from August 1884, when an open-air concert was held at Grange Field, Hill Top, the venue being lent for the occasion by Mrs. Hannah Martha Carter. (4)

Held under the auspices of several district friendly societies in order to raise money for the local Dispensary and Leeds Infirmary, the concert attracted a large crowd to hear sacred music sung by the Knottingley Choral Society which was accompanied by the Pontefract Borough Band, Brotherton Brass Band and the Knottingley (Bagleys) Glass Works Band. In order to boost the attendance all the bands paraded round the town before the event. No formal entry charge was made but large baskets were placed at the field gate for voluntary donations and collection boxes were used for casual contributions from bystanders as the bands played en route to the venue. The nature and format of the event established a pattern which was observed for over half a century thereafter. A total of £30-4-5½ was raised that day with £21-10-3 taken at the gate and £8-14-2½ obtained by street collections. (5)

No record of any similar event has been found for the following year but on ‘Feast Sunday’, August 1886, a concert of light classical music was given in Howard’s Field by the Knottingley Glass Works Band under its conductor Mr. John Shaw, following a procession through the main thoroughfares of the town. The event was organised by the Knottingley Charitable Institutions Committee, a group consisting of members of the Wesleyan Chapel and local friendly societies which had been formed some months before.

The concert was held on the site of the Knottingley Horticultural Society’s annual show and the Society President, Mr. A.P. Stainsby, placed at the Charitable Committee’s disposal the large marquee used by the Horticultural Society, in the event of inclement weather. Fortunately the tent was not required which was undoubtedly fortunate since the concert drew an attendance of almost 2,000 people. The financial return was wholly disproportionate to the size of the audience, with only £8-5-7½ being collected of which sum £5-12-3 was gate money and the remainder from collection boxes.

Unsurprisingly, in the wake of such disappointing return rumours of malpractice began to circulate and the Committee felt obliged to issue a public statement that "the money has not been ‘riddled’, the only expense incurred being the printing and posting of the bills. The Secretary’s position was masterly handed by Mr. Victor Wild." (6)

The financial situation was somewhat redeemed by additional activities as a result of which the sum of £32-2-7½ was collected between the 21st July and the 5th October, enabling 16 guineas to be donated to Leeds Infirmary and £8 to Pontefract Dispensary, the residue being taken by operational expenses. (7)

Reporting events at Knottingley in 1888 the Pontefract and Castleford Express stated:

"Dispensary Sunday is now a name by which Feast Sunday may be better known since the Workingmen’s Charitable Institution has established an open air music festival and demonstration." (8)


With hundreds of people in attendance that year, including a number of visitors drawn to the town in the traditional fashion at Feast-time, the sum raised was £9-15-0, despite the vagaries of the weather over the Bank Holiday weekend.

During the three years of its existence the Charitable Committee had been able to disburse a little under £100 to Pontefract Dispensary and Leeds Infirmary.

In 1889 a change of venue took place when the demonstration was held in Vale Head Field, Hill Top, courtesy of Mr. Seal. The event, attended by "a good gathering" was presided over by Alderman Mathers, the Mayor of Pontefract, thereby introducing a new feature which was to apply throughout the history of ‘Hospital Sunday’; visiting dignitaries. The assembly heard selections played by the Knottingley, Brotherton and Tabernacle (Salvation Army) bands and the sum of £13-9-9 was raised. (9)

Statistics quoted during the event provide a context of medical provision against which the financial contributions may be judged. During the previous year it was stated, the Dispensary had relieved 234 people from Knottingley and its neighbourhood, including 161 from the town, 25 from Ferrybridge, 15 from Beal and 4 from Birkin at a cost to the Dispensary of £60 towards which it had received £30 from all these sources. Local employers were criticised for failing to subscribe to the institution which had a financial deficit of £815. (10)

A note of criticism was also sounded concerning the actual event:

"…we cannot say it did justice to the occasion…Knottingley has shown it possesses better vocal talent than that which did duty on Sunday." (11)

To what extent such criticism was a disheartening factor is conjectural but it would appear that the Committee was losing some of its early enthusiasm, for the following year it was reported that "for some inexplicable reason there was no demonstration on Sunday in aid of Pontefract Dispensary but Knottingley Charitable Institution is not to be allowed to lapse altogether."

Stating that Feast-time was an ideal opportunity for the public to discharge obligations owed by so many to the local Dispensary and to Leeds Infirmary, the local newspaper revealed that an open air concert of sacred music was proposed later in the season. (12)

On the 15th August 1890 at the behest of the local clergy and representatives of the Knottingley Choral Society, Messrs Archer and Horrocks, a meeting chaired by the Rev. J. Crawford, Vicar of Christ Church, was held in the National Schoolroom to which all local friendly societies and social organisations had been invited to send representatives. (13) As a result a committee was formed with Rev. Crawford as Chairman, T.L. Poulson, Treasurer and Archer and Horrocks, Secretaries, with the object of organising the said concert. It was reported that all local choirs were keen to participate and would be under the baton of Mr. A Archer while the instrumental music was to be provided by the band of the 3rd Battalion of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Regiment and the Castleford Primitive Methodist Brass Band. (14)

The concert took place on Saturday 20th September, in Mr Henry Seal’s Vale Head Field following the usual procession through the streets of the town in which Sunday School scholars and some friendly society personnel took part. In spite of favourable weather there was not a particularly large gathering at the event at which the choirs rendered selections from the ‘Messiah’ and the ‘Creation’, together with well known hymns and the bands played selections during intervals in the proceedings. Paradoxically, the sum of £16 taken at the event was the largest amount raised at any of the annual concerts up to that time. (15)

Representing the Dispensary, Mr. T.W. Tew said that of 1,929 patients on the books 1,777 were new patients with 166 cases of all kinds being sent from Knottingley during the year. Thanking the Charitable Institution for the donation of £20 the previous year, Tew pointed out that the average cost per patient was £2. Despite the obvious shortcoming Tew revealed plans for an extension and other improvements at Pontefract Dispensary.

The event concluded with the presentation of an illuminated address to Mr Archer, the choirmaster, and Rev. Crawford announced the intention of the Committee to continue the concerts in future years. (16)

The following year witnessed a departure from the established format. Encouraged by the success of the previous year when the concert had been held on Saturday afternoon instead of the customary Sunday, it was decided to re-designate ‘Dispensary Sunday’ as ‘Infirmary Saturday’ and widen the programme of events. To this end arrangements were made to use ‘Mrs Howard’s Cricket Field’ as the venue and hold an afternoon cricket match between Knottingley Town Cricket Club and Fairburn as a preliminary attraction, all proceeds being donated to the hospitals fund. (17)

The prime mover in the reconstituted demonstration appears to have been the Rev. F.E. Egerton, Vicar of St. Botolph’s Church. (18) Writing in the Parish Magazine in June 1891, Egerton revealed the underlying philosophy of the event:

"I feel it will be the means not only of raising a goodly sum for our medical charities, but also of inducing a friendly spirit between the various communities in our midst."

Egerton also revealed the practical advantages in holding the event on a Saturday:

"By holding a demonstration on a weekday, the various religious bodies can throw themselves heartily into the movement, and thus enlist the sympathy and help of many who would be obliged on principle to hold aloof from such gatherings if held on a Sunday."

The comments of the Vicar discreetly revealed the existence of a split within the community between those who for reasons of conscience and religious observation refused to participate in Sunday entertainment, even when undertaken for charitable purposes, and those who held that the Sabbath was made for man. The arrangements of the previous year which had despite their belated and somewhat ad hoc nature generated a substantial increase in income, had shown the benefit to be gained by holding the demonstration in circumstances which permitted unity of action as well as of purpose. Egerton still envisaged retention of the Hospital Sunday collections in places of worship in accordance with the original concept of the movement but sought to widen the scheme and include all sections of the local community and thereby not only include the diverse religious elements but also a substantial element of the public who did not attend places of worship. To this end, in July 1891, Egerton sought the assistance of "any ladies who will take part in the house to house canvas for subscriptions."(19)

A month later he outlined the scheme to be adopted:

"The town will be divided into twenty districts, and canvassers appointed to call at every house asking for small contributions for Leeds Infirmary and Pontefract Dispensary…which will prove such a boon to the sick and poor of Knottingley." (20)

Infirmary Saturday, 8th August 1891, proved to be a success despite uncertain weather which rendered an inconclusive end to the cricket match in the afternoon. Nevertheless, at 4.00pm, a united procession was formed consisting of scholars of the various Sunday Schools and of such organisations as wished to participate. Many marchers carried flags and accompanied by Bagley’s (Bottle Works) Brass Band and Knottingley Town Band, the procession marched through the principal thoroughfares of the town, reaching the field at 5.20pm.

The demonstration was presided over by J.W. Bagley J.P., with Mr. L.G. Lyon, Chairman and Mr. P Wood, Secretary, of the Dispensary’s administrative Committee, representing the Institution. The latter gentleman revealed that during the preceding year Knottingley had sent 19 in-patients and 55 out-patients to Leeds Infirmary and 97 patients had been treated at Pontefract Dispensary.

A lengthy programme of events had been arranged but the choral items had hardly begun when heavy rain caused the abandonment of the proceedings, the children being served with bags of sweets and nuts as they left for home.

An admission charge of 3d produced gate receipts of £5-3-3 this sum being supplemented by £2-8-6 collected en route and 11s 7½d from the sale of programmes. The house to house collection realised £3-12-10½ and for the first time workplaces within the town featured in the amount raised viz:-

Bagley & Co. Glassworks £4-1-0
Stainsby & Lyon. Chemical Works £2-3-3 (solely for Dispensary)
Poulson Bros. Pottery £1-7-0½
Robinson Bros. Chemical Works 14s1d
A. Mooney. Glassworks 6s8d
Horn Bros. Pottery 5s10½d
Railway Station 1s9d

With additional subscriptions of £4-0-0 the receipts totalled £30-15-11½. Expenses were £3-10-0 leaving a record disbursement of £27-0-0 for division between the two hospitals. (21)

In a retrospective note Rev. Egerton wrote:

"It speaks well for the management that the expenses were kept down to a small sum, less than £4, for as a rule, a large portion of the proceeds of such gatherings goes in expenses." (22)

In making this statement the reverend gentleman touched upon a widespread criticism of the previous system for expenditure had been disproportionate to the sums donated.

In 1893 the venue was again ‘Mrs Howard’s Cricket Field’ with the proceedings brought to an abrupt end by a heavy downpour about 4.00pm. The event was of significance however, for the remarks of the Chairman, J.W. Bentley J.P. who in a public address to an assembled gathering of about 2,000 people said that only a year earlier he had hoped to see an end to the rivalry existing between the pro and anti Sunday factions and was now pleased to note their combined efforts to promote such a good cause. Bentley revealed that while £24-6-0 had been sent to Leeds Infirmary that same institution had given assistance to 21 in-patients and 60 out-patients from Knottingley at a cost of about £62, leaving the town indebted to the Infirmary for £38. Pontefract Dispensary had received £25-12-6 during the previous year and had treated 134 Knottingley patients. Bentley therefore asserted that the townsfolk ought to do more to support the hospitals. The days proceedings raised about £50, including a donation of 10 guineas by Mr. T.W. Nussey, the constituency M.P..(23)

A solely instrumental concert performed by the Knottingley Town Band and the brass bands of Pontefract Borough and the Castleford Primitive Methodists, marked the event in 1894. It was revealed that a formalised system of workplace collections had been established during the recent year. The need to reinforce the method of fund raising was becoming even more apparent by the fact that the number of out-patients from the expanding township treated by the Dispensary had risen from 134 to 200 between 1893 and 1894. (24)

A breach of the newly formed unity of the Knottingley Dispensary Committee occurred in 1896 when serious allegations of financial mismanagement appeared in a letter published in a Pontefract newspaper. Consequently, at the annual meeting of the Charitable Institutions Committee on the 19th August it was decided to have the accounts audited and to suspend disbursement of all monies until the audit was completed. A warm discussion took place as to whether the Committee should close its printing account in view of the ‘insult’ received from the newspaper, the proprietor of which undertook printing on behalf of the Committee. The Committee decided to continue its efforts for a further year and Mr. E.L. Poulson was re-elected as Treasurer with Mr. T. Asquith as Assistant Secretary. (25)

The allegations echoed similar charges such as those of 1886 and were either a manifestation of suspicious or malicious minds and either unfounded or greatly exaggerated, arising from the high level of expenditure which characterised the Committee’s efforts, generally about one third of the sum collected. For example, in 1893 the income of the Charitable Committee was £64-6-2 of which £43-10-0 was donated to the hospitals, the remainder being taken for expenses. (26)

Meanwhile, the demonstration planned to take pace at Vale Head Field on August Bank Holiday Sunday, 1896, was diverted to Knottingley Town Hall due to unfavourable weather. A large audience was entertained by the towns’ Brass Band and the Pontefract Borough and Victoria bands. (27) Undaunted by the adverse weather and malicious rumour and anxious to give the lie to the latter publicly, the Committee held a second demonstration on Sunday, 17th August at an outdoor venue, Mr Atkinson’s field. Mr. J.W. Poulson presided. Referring to the very serious allegations made in the recently published letter, Poulson expressed the hope that the Committee were fully prepared to repudiate the statements for they were of such a character that unless repudiated would cripple the Committee’s work and thereby injure the future of the noble institutions served by the Committee.

The Hon Secretary, Mr H. Watmough, then dealt at length with the charges levelled against the Committee, quoting statistics to show the falsity or exaggeration of the allegations. The Secretary was followed by Mr Herbert Smith of Glasshoughton who, on behalf of the Dispensary, urged all Knottingley folk to continue to support the hospitals. The event was attended by Knottingley Brass Band which played selections at intervals throughout the afternoon. (28)

Notwithstanding public denial the rumours of financial mismanagement persisted and the charge was resurrected the following year when Mr A. Archer, the choral director and founder of the revitalised Hospital Sunday demonstrations, who had since taken up residence at Wakefield following his appointment as songman at the city’s Chantry in 1893, (29) brought vocalists from Wakefield to perform at a Knottingley concert in aid of the Dispensary. The expenditure involved was £1-7-6 plus Archer’s personal expenses of 10s 6d. Archer justified the measure by claiming that Pontefract vocalists were unwilling to assist, some regarding appearance at Knottingley as being beneath their dignity, thus leaving Archer with no alternative but to engage Wakefield vocalists. The situation was further inflamed when Archer responded to assertions that he had claimed expenses totalling £10 by stating publicly, "A man may do his duty, even to the death, and some scribe of the reptilian breed will try to injure him." (30)

Whilst regretting Archer’s remarks, considering the criticism best ignored, the Editor of the Pontefract and Castleford Express condemned the prejudice against the Knottingley Committee and whilst noting that the 1897 demonstration was not, and could hardly be expected to be, one of the most successful, was fulsome of the way the Committee had refused to allow the event to lapse. (31)

The event which was blessed by glorious weather, took place at the ‘Cricket and Football Field’ (Howard’s Field) drawing a goodly number of residents. Under Archer’s direction a chorus of local singers, supplemented by others from out of town and accompanied by a small band led by Mr Chambers, entertained the assembled throng at intervals between speeches.

The Chairman, J.W. Bentley, J.P., referred to the schism which had arisen within the Management Committee in recent years and the local M.P., T.W. Nussey, revealed the effect of the split by referring to the difficulty experienced in even forming a committee at all to organise that years events. Mr. P. Wood, Secretary of the Pontefract Dispensary Management Committee, paid tribute to Mr Archer’s ten years of service to the cause to which Archer responded by stating his reluctance to allow the demonstration, which he had been instrumental in starting, to lapse. (32)

Despite the somewhat diminished nature of the event compared to past occasions, the demonstration raised almost £20 of which less than £2 was taken by expenses. The balance sheet was made public in October that year in order to forestall the likelihood of malicious rumour viz:- (33)

Income £ s d
Collection at the gate 8 7 0
Mr T.W. Nussey M.P., - donation 10 0 0
Box at Jolly Sailor Inn – Mr Tranmer 1 7
Box at L&Y Hotel – Mrs Simpson 1 ½
Box at Mr Dixons – grocer 7

Total  £

19 15 9

 

Expenditure £ s d
Pontefract Dispensary 17 14 5
J. Robinson & Son – printing 10 0
Mr J. Link - billposting 4 6
Mr C. Saul – wagonette for singers 17 6
Band copies 9 4

Total  £

19 15 9

The publication of the accounts seems to have served its intended purpose for there was apparently no criticism concerning expenditure following the conclusion of the years event.

A new feature was introduced in 1898 with a procession starting from the Town Hall and marching along Hill Top to the Railway Hotel before turning round and touring all the principal streets of the town by way of Chapel Street, Aire Street, Cow Lane and Fernley (Low) Green before entering Howard’s Field. Members of the Prince of Wales, Speedwell and Morning Star Lodges of the Oddfellows’ Friendly Society, took part in the procession together with members of the K.U.D.C. who participated at the invitation of the Dispensary Committee, The town Fire Brigade in full uniform also paraded. (34)

J.W. Bentley presided at the event being accompanied by Sire Frederick Ripley and other local dignitaries, mainly representatives of the towns’ industrial and commercial life.

A 70 strong choir and string band under the conductorship of Mr A Archer performed items of a sacred nature by Handel and Mozart and hymns were sung by the public. Knottingley Brass Band played musical selections between speeches.

In his public address, Mr P Woods, Dispensary Secretary, stated that of 3,077 cases treated at Pontefract in the preceding year, 2,521 had been discharged as cured. Of 32 in-patients, 4 came from Knottingley which had sent 195 out-patients for treatment so that in order for Knottingley people to pay the full cost of treatment given it would be necessary to pay a fifteenth part of the institutions income.

Sir Frederick Ripley’s speech made incidental reference to the fact that an element of the towns’ society objected to such a demonstration being held on a Sunday afternoon. Nevertheless the event was a great success. Collections in boxes yielded £8-7-7 and £9-3-0 was taken at the gate, which together with sums collected in various public houses in the town provided a sum in excess of £22. The final published accounts revealed a total of £25-2-3 from which expenditure of £6-1-4 being deducted, left a balance of £19-11-0 for the newly designated Pontefract General Infirmary. (35)

Describing the result as "pleasing" and "encouraging", the local newspaper commented upon the energy of the movement and predicted that subject to the continuance of good management, the amount raised would be increased in future. (36)

The administrative hiccup and reversion to a Sunday demonstration at Knottingley had resulted in the withdrawal of local clergy from direct participation in the annual proceedings. In 1889 however, the Reverend L.H. Mills and Reverend J.S. Fowle, Vicar of Christ Church, were present. Encouraging the people of Knottingley to beat the sum raised by the citizens of Pontefract, Mr J.G. Lyon pointed out that Pontefract’s total included collections from the towns churches and chapels and expressed the hope that ministers of all denominations in Knottingley would support the cause and attend the demonstration in future. Lyon’s hope was ultimately fulfilled for early in 1906 Rev. Egerton publicly commended the way both politicians and clergy were able to put aside differences to support the event. (37)

Whilst the last demonstration of the nineteenth century followed the established pattern of previous years a subtle difference is discernable with the benefit of hindsight. An ideal summers day drew a larger attendance than in recent years, suggesting renewed public confidence. The presence of two clergymen may also be indicative of some relaxation in the attitude of the hitherto doctrinaire element of local society concerning strict Sunday observance. In this respect it is noticeable that the Town Band wore their uniforms and the procession featured a "beautiful lodge banner."

More significantly, the platform speeches reflected the socio-political changes beginning to emerge in response to the millennial aspirations of an industrial and social underclass with a growing awareness of its latent power, nationally and locally. One such aspect of the desired change was referred to by the Chairman of the Knottingley Hospital Committee, J.W. Bentley, touching the increase in practical sympathy for the poor and support for the Old Age Pension as desirable steps to benefit people unable to help themselves. Sir Frederick Ripley, the Conservative and Unionist candidate for the constituency, whilst doubtless availing himself of the opportunity to identify with the reformist platform the event afforded, revealed the public mood with reference to areas of potential improvement such as workingmens’ housing, cleaner rivers and purer air, shorter hours of labour and slum clearance. Nor did the also present Constituency Member T.W. Nussey, dissent.

Signs of change were also manifest regarding the local hospital, now no longer identified as Pontefract Dispensary but as Pontefract General Infirmary. The Infirmary Secretary, Mr P Wood, clearly revealed the transformation which had occurred, stating that Pontefract now had facilities and staff to deal with surgical cases, thus obviating the rail journey to Leeds, a fact which explains why from time to time local funds were largely donated to Pontefract Infirmary.

Wood revealed that during the foregoing year the number of patients referred from Knottingley was 281, about 8% overall, which despite the increased contribution by the town was disproportionate to the cost incurred in the treatment received. (38)

An increase in the number of collecting boxes in local public houses provides evidence of an effort to increase the towns contribution to the Hospital. Six boxes, including one at a pub in Kellington, yielded just over £10 compared with £4-17-0 the previous year. Of the licensed houses in 1899, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Hotel, Hill Top, with £4-8-0 contributed double the amount of its nearest rival. The sum collected at the L&Y Hotel, stands in bold contrast with that of 1s 01/2d. featured in the balance sheet of two years earlier quoted above. The licensee, Mrs Simpson, was awarded a medal in recognition of the zeal shown, a further innovation that year which was to become a regular feature in future years. (39) In 1900 a gold medal was presented to Mr J W Lowther in recognition of his services as a collector and the following year two medals were allocated; one to the Sailors Home Inn for a collection of £4-18-0 and another to the L&Y Hotel for the sum of £4-2-6, a total of £24 being collected by public houses that year. It was stated at that time that while Knottingley was third in the list of patients treated at the P.G.I. the town had reached third place in the amount of money raised in local Infirmary Sunday collections. (40)

The award of medals promoted friendly rivalry amongst the licensed premises of the town and neighbourhood thereby increasing the money obtained for funding the Infirmary. To ensure momentum the Committee decided in 1902 to make an annual donation of three medals to be presented to the ‘heaviest’ pub boxes. The winners that year were Mr J W Pearson, Swan Inn, Mr J.W. Penty, Sailors Home Inn and Mrs H Simpson, L&Y Hotel. The effect of the competition may be judged by the fact that of £47-10-2 raised that year only slightly less than half the sum came from public house collections. (41) Contributions raised by local public houses and shortly afterwards by workingmens clubs, remained the single most contributory element throughout the first half of the twentieth century as the number of licensed premises involved in the competition gradually increased. By 1908 no less than 16 pubs, including the Red Lion at Kellington, contributed a total of £58-4-71/2 of the sum of £116 raised that year. (42) Just how vital were public house collections is shown by the fact that between 1900-1906, £50-£65 per year was contributed from this source and when a slight decline occurred in 1904, the reduction was ascribed to a period of slackness within the licensed trade. (43)

Two further areas of expansion in the early twentieth century were the increase in the number of workplace collections and of individual subscriptions. As early as 1898 reference had been made to the number of Knottingley people who subscribed on a regular weekly basis via factory collecting boxes because Pontefract Dispensary "had a warm place in the hearts of Knottingley working people" (44) and this sentiment was echoed the following year when reference was made to workers contributions and the fact that the work undertaken in connection with the annual demonstration was done almost entirely by workingmen. (45)

In 1904, four local firms undertook regular collections, two glassworks, Bagley & Co. Ltd., and Jackson Bros. Ltd., contributed 9 guineas and 1 guinea respectively and the two chemical works, Stainsby & Lyon and Robinson Bros., each collected £6-3-4 and £2-18-6. The total of £19-11-10 exceeded that collected in public houses that year although (as noted above) the latter had suffered a phase of poor trade. (46) The following year, with only one additional collecting point, the total works contributions had risen to £36-16-5 and by 1912 six groups of workers collected a total of £63-3-0 by regular or casual works donations. (47)

In the context of individual subscriptions the rate of increase both numerically and financially is less prominent, perhaps due to the fact that the element of local society most able to afford subscriptions had least reason to do so being able to afford medical treatment if required. Individual donations were therefore made by that section of the local gentry having direct association with medical charities, serving on committees, governing bodies or holding public office and therefore obliged to lead by example. Thus, from the earliest stage of formal organisation the local Member of Parliament subscribed annually (usually 10 guineas, sometimes £10), and a handful of local dignitaries subscribed sums ranging from half a guinea to a guinea. Some of the more benevolent employers paid a subscription to enable their workers to receive treatment in case of accident but such employers were a minority and it was felt that many others ought to subscribe on that basis. (48)

The demographic expansion of the township, together with the increased public confidence in the integrity of the Infirmary Committee following the publication of the annual accounts from 1898, allied to the increasingly efficient administration and organisation of events, resulted in a steady increase in the amount of money raised annually. In 1903, Rev F.E. Egerton calculated that Knottingley people averaged per capita contributions of five shillings annually. When adverse economic circumstances resulted in a slight decline in the amount raised in 1904, the Committee were able to send an additional sum the following year to make up for the previous deficit. (49) Sadly, on occasions, the sums raised were denuded by disrespectful (or desperately poor?) individuals. Thus, in 1910, a collection box at the Red Lion Inn, Kellington, containing about £2 was stolen and an even larger sum of £14 was stolen from Hill Top Workingmens Club in 1917. No doubt the greater prosperity of the general public enabled larger amounts to accrue in collecting boxes made them increasingly tempting targets from unscrupulous thieves. (50)

A further small yet notable contribution to the cause was that made by the showmen visiting Knottingley Feast. The Feast and the Infirmary demonstrations were inextricably bound together, the demonstration being held on ‘Feast Sunday’. To show his appreciation of local patronage (and doubtless with an eye to favourable publicity) the fairground proprietor Harry Tuby offered £20 towards the endowment of a local ambulance in 1903, on condition that the vehicle be presented to the K.U.D.C. and designated ‘The Tuby Ambulance’. (51)The offer seems not to have been accepted for at the Sunday demonstration of 1906, Rev. Egerton announced that Tuby had promised a donation of £15 towards a horse [drawn] ambulance, in response to which JG Lyon offered to pay the remainder of the cost involved. (52) At a slightly later date it became usual for the showmen to donate a portion of the takings from the fairground rides. The showmen’s donations had originated with the benefit performances given by Mr and Mrs Vickers, proprietors of the popularly patronised Royal Alhambra Theatre which had attended the Feast since the early 1870s. (53) Naturally, the donations varied in accordance with the degree of patronage. In 1904 Vickers gave 15s while on two later occasions sums of £3-6-8 and £3-6-0 were donated. It must be observed, however, that in 1904 Vickers contribution included a benefit performance for the old people of the town following a tea party in Knottingley Town Hall. Similarly, Tuby’s donated 13s 6d. in 1905, and in 1902 Barkers gave half the proceeds from a circus entertainment. (54) With the advent of regular daily cinema performances at the Palace Cinema from 1913, the custom of benefit nights was continued by the proprietors and one such occasion that year raised £3-14-6 for the Infirmary Fund. (55)

Such efforts were supplemented by ‘special events’ throughout each year undertaken by various social organisations within the town. From 1912 the Wesleyan Brotherhood, associated with collecting money for Hospital Sunday since 1887, took a more pro active part, establishing a ‘Flower Saturday’ in which a ‘live’ buttonhole was given to anyone making a small donation for the Infirmary Fund. The commencement of the Great War and the ‘Poppy Day’ collections which followed in its wake, condemned ‘Flower Saturday’ to a short existence but one which served a useful purpose. (56) Nor should the role of Knottingley Silver Prize Band be overlooked in the context of fund raising for in addition to more than a half a century of attendance at Hospital Sunday demonstrations, the Band also engaged with the supporters of the Dispensary at Pontefract and Ferrybridge and throughout each year raised money for the cause by means of holding concerts and dances. (57)

As a result of continuous efforts by voluntary organisations a general increase occurred in sum raised in the first decade of the twentieth century. Presiding in gloriously sunny weather in 1906, Mr EL Robinson was able to announce record receipts at the demonstration. A total of £121 had been collected from boxes of which £74-4-41/2 was subscribed by customers of the 16 public houses associated with the cause. Praising the efforts of the Infirmary Committee, Mr Robinson said that during the recent decade under the Chairmanship of Mr J W Bentley, receipts had risen by leaps and bounds as indicated by the fact that £199-3-6 had been donated to the Infirmary the previous year. (58) While it was true that in1906 and 1907 receipts of £146 and £135 were substantially less than those of 1905, the Committee had nonetheless sent in excess of £100 to the Infirmary and additional donations to Leeds Infirmary. (59)

By 1907 the sum donated to the Infirmary was sufficient to cover the cost of treatment provided to all patients referred from Knottingley and in 1908 the townspeople became the largest subscribers to the Hospital. (60) However, a downturn occurred in 1909 largely due to a heavy downpour, which caused the demonstration to be transferred to the Town Hall. The procession which preceded the demonstration drew a large crowd to the Banks Garth cricket field before the rain came but although this ensured that the Town Hall was crowded the transfer nevertheless had an adverse effect on proceeds. Consequently, the contribution of £110 fell short of the £135 spent by the Infirmary in treating the 406 patients referred from Knottingley that year. (61)

In an effort to boost declining contributions new features were adopted. In 1910, in addition to the now customary presentation of medals for public house collections prizes were given for the largest amounts obtained by individual collectors and also for the highest sum collected en route during the procession which in that year was won by James Hanson. (62) Mention has been made of the Wesleyan Brotherhood’s innovative ‘Flower Saturday’ first introduced in 1912, while the previous year witnessed the first occasion when a ‘gimmick’ was utilised as a publicity stunt. The success of the Wright Brothers’ inaugural flight in an heavier than air machine in 1903, followed by Bleriot’s successful crossing of the English Channel in 1909 and by the Daily Mail national air race in 1911 had created public enthusiasm for aeronautical events. To this end aviators were engaged to fly over the town to draw attention to the forthcoming Infirmary Sunday. (63)

Yet despite the novelty and innovations and the incentive arising from the desire to beat the sum collected by Pontefract Borough, the period between 1909 and 1914 was one of considerable fluctuation and only in 1913 did contributions reach slightly in excess of £100. (64) The decline was all the more surprising for having coincided with a phase of local prosperity which was remarked upon in both 1911 and again the following year but was not reflected in the contributions to the Infirmary. (65) Notwithstanding the reduction, Knottingley remained the leading contributor in the district, suggesting that the town was far better organised than its neighbour or that neighbouring locations were experiencing economic adversity. (66) While extant data is too sparse to allow year by year analysis, it is of passing interest to record the contributions made by some local communities in the period 1911 – 1912, viz:-

Knottingley £60
Ferrybridge £44
Brotherton £15
Ackworth £8-5-0
Fairburn £4 (67)

In ascribing reasons for the decline in contributions post 1909, Cr. Tom Jackson stated that there were so many charitable calls on Knottingley people that he felt contributions had reached a high water mark. (68) Yet while it is true that the townsfolk responded to a substantial number of other charities the crux of the matter may be more prolix. Changes in the composition of the local Infirmary Committee involving the withdrawal of the enterprising J.W. Bentley from administrative affairs may have resulted in a hiatus due to loss of competitive drive. The vagaries of the weather such as the heat wave of 1912 and the rain blighted proceedings of 1909 inhibited attendance, resulting in financial adversity. Indeed, 1912 provided a dual example with the Ferrybridge demonstration hit by rain while at Knottingley a month earlier, intense heat had constrained attendance. (69) There may also have been a weariness fuelled initially by an almost sub-conscious feeling that the State ought to make more adequate provision for the health care of its citizens. The influence of Socialism and its practical manifestation both locally and nationally as exemplified in the establishment of the Independent Labour Party in 1893 and the Labour Party in 1906 provided a public forum for the articulation of such belief. Expectations were further heightened by the social reforms introduced by the Liberal administration after 1908. Thus, at the demonstration of 1913, the Pontefract constituency M.P., Mr. Handel Booth, delivered a speech extolling the virtue of cross party consensus within the House of Commons in support of the Bill amending the National Insurance Act of 1907 enabling a government grant of 2s 6d. per member to all approved friendly societies to ensure the provision of medical aid to the aged. (70)

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