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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





INDEX | A-B | C-D | E-F | G | H | I-J | K-L | M-N | O | P | Q-R | S | T-U | V-W | YARDS |

Built in 1862, this house, situated in Primrose Vale, was the residence of Knottingley sea captain, John Martin, formerly of Tupmans Square, Racca Green, as identified by a cache of documents discovered at Aguia Cottage in 1981. The name of the house was also that of a 57 ton sloop built in 1884 of which Martin may have been the master.

A long demolished terrace of houses which stood next to the shipbuilding yard of William Worfolk at Skew Bridge. The row of buildings were named after the 57 ton sloop built by Worfolk for William Moorhouse in 1838.

The oldest and principal thoroughfare in Knottingley, running parallel to the river from which it takes its name. Both residential and commercial, the Street was the hub of activity within the town until the mid twentieth century when a combination od social and economic change resulted in its decline. An ill conceived and disastrous redevelopment scheme in the mid 1960s resulted in the wholesale demolition of the Street so that today nothing remains to indicate its former importance and prestige.

Situated on land belonging to British Waterways lying between Jacksons Bridge and Gaggs Bridge adjacent to the canal at the south side of Hill Top, the amphitheatre was designed as the result of a collaboration between British Waterways and the pupils of Knottingley High School. The structure was built by the Wakefield division of the Groundwork organization at a cost of £60,000 and opened for public use in 1998. Thereafter the site provided a venue for a diverse public activities but in Spring 2004 the structure was extensively vandalized as a result of which it was closed to the public on safety grounds. At the time of writing, the future of the amphitheatre is uncertain.

A group of shops and offices standing at the south side of Hill Top east of the junction of Weeland Road and Headlands Lane. The property was built by the local firm of McLauchlan & Co., in the early 1960s and part of the complex occupies the site of the former workhouse.

The site in Cow Lane has been a doctors’ surgery fro about 200 years. It was also the site of the Cow Lane brewery during the period c1830-56 when the medical practitioner, William Bywater, was resident there. The name Ash Grove was not introduced until the last quarter of the nineteenth century when Dr. Percival moved tp Knottingley from Leeds and named the site after his former residence there.

This location does not feature in the Enclosure Award Schedule of 1793 but is recorded in the ratebooks of the township in 1857 and 1859. By that time, however, the town had been surveyed anew and a new map of the town drawn for rate valuation purposes. Unfortunately, the map subsequently disappeared and the name itself became defunct. Consequently, it is not possible to identify the location of Ashes Close, the name of which presumably derives from its nearness to a group of ash trees.

The residence of the Cliffe family, shipbuiders, at Low Green, approaching Skew Bridge. The shipyard and house were later owned by John Garlick, a former apprentice of Cliffe. The house was ultimately incorporated into the shipbuiolding yard of John Harker & Co., Ltd., and the former residence was used as a planning office but eventually demolished.

Built in the late 1850s by Lewis Woolf on a site adjacent to the Knottijngley Pottery which he had recently purchased. The pottery, situated at the foot of Ferrybridge Hill, was built to capitalize on the booming colonial trade, as shown by the name. Woolf’s son and successor, Sydeny Woolf, became the M.P for Pontefract Borough in 1880. A decline in trade overstretched his financial resources and he was made bankrupt and had to resign his seat and surrender the ownership of the Australian Pottery in 1885 The pottery was next in the hands of the Horn Brothers until 1920 when it was sold to the Co Operative Wholesale Society who closed it in 1929. In 1947 the property was purchased by T.H. Newsome & Co., and has subsequently functioned as an oil refinery.

A linear settlement such as the first phase of habitation at Knottingley usually consisted of peasant homes (tofts), fronted by land used for cultivation or pasture (e.g. the Flatts). Each of the rown of tofts had a small area of land at the rear, known as a croft, which was cultivated by the peasant family as a means of subsistence. Behind the peasant holding and running parallel to the front of the rown of tofts, was a pathway known as the back lane. The adjacency of the lane to the crofts resulted in the names Back Lane and Croft becoming synonymous at Knottingley. Interestingly, with the advent of metalled roads in the nineteenth century the made up part between Cow Lane and Primrose Hill was referred to as the Croft and the unmade dirt track west of Primrose Hill connecting with Chapel Street was known as Longwood’s Walk with the connecting path between this location and Aire Street being named as Back Lane.

Situated at the eastern end of the township in a bend of the riverbank, and marking the probable boundary of the original communal field system, the land was one of the hay meadows and the name is derived from the Old English term which signifies the division and apportionment of newly gained land into individual shares. The use of the term ‘dole’ by previous generations of local inhabitants as a name for unemployment benefit probably derives from this practice.

The stretch of river between two bends was named a reach. Bank Dole Reach is that section of the river Aire extending in a northerly direction from Knottingley Lock to the West Ings, thus the lock is known as Bank Dole Lock.

An enclosure of land adjacent to Banks Lane (c.f. infra) occupying the space between that location and Weeland Road. Just over an acre in extent, the close originally formed and entity with Banks Garth, being bisected by a footpath, later designated Banks Lane. The existence of the footpath, effectively created a division which resulted in the two portions becoming separate plots. Banks Close was derelict and overgrown for several generations before being adopted for residential development in the 1960s. From the late 1930s the land was earmarked as the site for a cinema and plans were drawn up and approved but the advent of the Second World War, followed by the eventual decline of cinema attendances meant that the project never reached fruition.

The term ‘garth’ means either an enclosure or garden and therefore the name may indicate a personal holding, originally of asserted land, the origins of which may lie in the land clearances of the twelfth century. Most probably, however, the name derives from a site for bean crops situated near a slope or shallow embankment constructed as a marker for a field boundary such as that formed by the nearby balk, Spawd Bone Lane.
The Garth was an enclosure of a little over two acres lying on the west side of Banks Lane and originally part of Banks Close but bisected by the footpath so that by the late eighteenth century the two elements were regarded as separate plots.
The field was first used by Knottingley Town Cricket Club in 1875 but thereafter the Club played at Howards Field until the turn of the twentieth century when the Banks Garth field became the regular venue for the Club’s matches. Messrs Bagley & Co., became the owners of the field in 1918 but it has continued to be tenanted by Knottingley Town Cricket Club to the present time.

Recorded in the Enclosure Award Schedule of 1793 as occupying two small sites at the northern end of Banks Lane. The Census of 1861 shows the site as that of the Anvil Inn, occupied by John Fell, described as an anchorsmith and Innkeeper. The Inn had been established by Fell late in the previous decade, presumably in the premises named Banks House, the identity of which is unrecorded from that time. By the 1890s however, a terrace of houses erected adjoining the Anvil Inn bore the name Banks Houses, presumably by association with the original Banks House.

Originally Banks Lane was the name given to that part of Weeland Road which may be identified as lying between the present Anvil Inn and the junction with the east end of Morley Lane. Following the development of Weeland Road and its increasing use by vehicular traffic, the footpath which ran behind the inn and terminated to the west of Morley Lane increasingly served as an important pathway providing access between Aire Street and the early common field system via England Lane and Spawd Bone Lane. Through common usage the name Banks Lane was transferred to the footpath, the former location becoming merely identified as Weeland Road. As late as the 1860s, however, the original route was commonly referred to as an ‘occupation road’, being used to access the agricultural land and limestone quarries lying to the south and west of the township. Until the 1960s the Banks Lane footpath was much used by pedestrians from the England Lane estate but with the demolition of Aire Street and the increase in car ownership the route became virtually disused and became overgrown by brambles on its most northerly section between Banks Garth cricket field and Jackson’s (Anvil) bridge. The route was subsequently reopened but is little used.

Land situated in Longlands Field on which a barn-like structure may have stood or, alternatively, a peasant holding on which beans were grown and originally referred to as ‘bean acre’ but becoming corrupted to ‘barnacle’ before being further transformed as Barncastle.

An area of land in excess of four acres lying within the South Field which probably derives its name from the fact that it is the lower of two parcels of land bearing the name Barncastle, the upper one being located off Spawd Bone Lane and the lower in the area of the present Warwick estate.

Cottages and homestead situated at Low Green and occupied by the Barton family throughout the nineteenth century and the first half of the following one. The site was originally developed by the consolidation of strip holdings for residential and occupational use in the post feudal area. The Barton’s were joiners, cabinet makers and wheel wrights and in the mid nineteenth century George Barton held the contract to make coffins for the deceased paupers of the township. At the turn of the last century Edwain Barton was a horticulturalist but the last occupant, Mr Tom Barton, repaired cycles on the site. The cottages and workshops were demolished during the second half of the twentieth century.

The name means ‘beautiful view’, a fairly common nineteenth century appellation. Probably named here for the vista of verdant meadowland and marsh surrounding the Marsh End site of this pair of houses when erected in the nineteenth century.

Built at the north side of Bendles Field and occupying the site which now forms the eastern end of Weeland Crescent. Following the establishment of Bagley’s Glassworks in May 1871, the house was the home of John Wild, one of the founding partners, until his death in 1884. The house was gradually encompassed by the glassworks and was eventually sold to the Company and demolished to facilitate further expansion of the works early in the twentieth century.

Originally part of the Racca lands, the site was an element of the early two field system in the early Middle Ages which following the breakdown of feudalism was exploited for its clay and limestone deposits/ The irregular landscape arising in consequence of sporadic excavation may have prompted the designation of the area as the ‘Bend Hills’, a term which was commonly used in the late eighteenth – early nineteenth century. The terms ‘Bendals’ and ‘Bendels’ which are also a feature of that period may merely be variant spellings of Bendles. In modern times the name is associated with the pathway which runs parallel to the south side of the canal and connects Weeland Road with Cow Lane but in earlier times the whole area lying west of Racca Green to the route of Weeland Road and between that roads southern flank and the present day Ropewalk, was known as the Bendles. Bendles Lane originally ran in a north-south direction and its earliest form was probably a headland separating the two field system. Prior to the last quarter of the nineteenth century the original Bendles Lane was part of a route connecting Racca Field Lane (Womersley Road) and Primrose Hill along which limestone was carted from the quarries at the south of the town to the staithes on the river bank. Folowing the establishment of the glassworks of bagley, Wild & Co., in 1871 and its subsequent expansion, the lane was incorporated into the glassworks yard, its southern end still forming the main entrance to the factory site.

One of six ropewalks which were once located within Knottingley township, the Bendles Ropewalk was situated at the southern end of the original Bendles Lane on its eastern side. The earliest known owner was Samuel Atkinson who was also a brewer and the owner of the now defunct Roper’s Arms Inn which took its name from the proprietor’s occupation. The ropewalk was still in existence at the time of the construction of Christ Church vicarage on an adjacent plot in 1850 but was eventually closed down and the site absorbed into the glassworks complex of Bagley & Co.

Something of a misnomer as the property consisted of two dwelling houses located at the forefront of Tupmans Yard, Racca Green, one of which was occupied by Captain Benjamin Tupman. The origin of the name is not known but Mr. Ron Gosney has posited the theory that it may have been derived from the fusion of Tupman’s forename with that of his wife who was Belgian born. The theory is lent further substance by the fact that Captain Tupman named one of his sailing ships ‘Kalodyne’, presumably in honour of his wife.

A terrace of houses situated at the lower end of Aire Street close by the former Palace Cinema. The houses are sub divisions of the building known as Bethel which served as a mission house for mariners. The façade of the building had a plaque, subsequently covered by plaster, on which was inscribed the text of Genesis chapter 20 verse 19, “And He called the name of that place Bethel.” Oral tradition has it that the building was erected in 1811 and was originally intended to be a chapel. However, as the extant deeds only date from 1908 it is not possible to confirm the assertion.
A pair of brick built houses to the west of Womersley Road, one being the erstwhile residence of Lewis G. Creaser, a director of Bagley & Co., and K.U.D.C. Chairman 1942 & 1949, are also named Bethel House. Creaser also had a forbear named Bethel Creaser.

A disparate group of nineteenth century houses, mainly of rendered limestone construction, which stood slightly to the east of a row of three dwellings off Racca Field Lane (Womersley Road) in the former Racca Field, known as Field Cottages, situated close to the present railway crossing. Nothing is known of the original owner of the properties beyond the fact that the Old Testament name suggest a degree of religious fervour. Field Cottages and the adjacent Beulah Place were demolished in the second half of last century and the site is now occupied by Beulah Court Sheltered Housing complex.

A latterday name for Cridling Park Road, running across the western edge of Knottingley Common and named from the association with the house and homestead built by John Blackburn in the late eighteenth century. C.f. Common Lane House, infra.

In a developing township in an era of horse drawn transport, it is not surprising that a growing number of blacksmiths should feature within the town during the nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth century. Census returns record the number of resident blacksmiths between 5 in 1841 and 23 half a century later, although the latter figure also included those following their craft within the shipyards and in workshops of allied trades as opposed to roadside forges. By 1901 a dozen blacksmiths are listed and even as late as the mid twentieth century, two forges were operational ; those belonging to Birkett, off Banks Lane, and Swales, located on the canalside near Shepherds Bridge.

Products of the Education Act of 1870. A local School Board had been established as early as 1872 and following an abortive attempt to commandeer the existing National School, premises were obtained opposite the church in Chapel Street in June 1874. The mixed Board School was housed in converted stables, the former stable yard forming the new school playground when the school opened in January 1875. Part of the money used to establish the school was provided from the sale of the defunct Knottingley Workhouse.
In 1885 a new board school was opened in the Holes, replacing a run down infants’ school, and this was followed by the erection of a new Board School on a site at Weeland Road which opened in 1894, the Chapel Street School being retained for use by boys and the Weeland Road school for girls. The former site was commonly known as ‘Low’ Board School; the latter as the ‘Top’ Board School. Eventually, under the aegis of the West Riding County Council Education Department, the system was changed with both schools adopting mixed pupilage, the Chapel Street school becoming an infants’ school, serving as a feeder for the Weeland Road Junior School.

One of a series of small plots of land known as the Mill Closes, Bone Mill Garth was an enclosure situated near the bone mill which was located to the east of the King’s Mills, standing between William Shaw’s bone mill and the Mill Close dry dock adjacent to the river bank. Both the dry dock and the bone mill appear to have suffered adversely following the opening of the Aire & Calder Canal between Knottingley and Ferrybridge in 1826 and became defunct shortly afterwards. Another bone mill was situated between Longwoods Walk and Aire Street in the second half of the nineteenth century but nothing is known of the proprietor(s) and by 1890 the buildings were standing derelict.

A furlong name for a portion of land within the great East Field and lying adjacent to the Racca Field to the north. The Bottom Field is now covered by part of the Broomhill housing estate. A part of the Bottom Field lying to the left side of Broomhill Avenue was used as an unofficial playground by children resident on the estate between the time of the construction of the first Council houses in the late 1920s and the building of the flats on the site as part of the extension of the estate in the mid 1950s.

Peasant strips close to the site of badger setts located in the great South Field close to the edge of the field boundaries of Ferrybridge and Pontefract. The name also features in several additional areas of the town fields.

A brick-built town house of the 1880s situated on the west side of Cow Lane between garden Lane and the Croft. The house is believed to have belonged to Captain William Johnson, a master mariner, who was a member of Knottingley Select Vestry from 1881-1891 and was nominated as Overseer of the Poor in 1874 and 1875 but was unelected.
In the early 1920s the house became the residence of Mr Harry Gregg of Gregg & Co., glass manufacturers, and during the 1950s was the home of Mr R Grayson, taxi proprietor.

A barely perceptible rise in the elevation of land lying to the east of Womersley Road, marked by the houses at the top end and named Broomhill Avenue is the site of the original Broom Hill which was so named from the abundance of the broom plant. The name is derived from the Old English brom’, indicating the antiquity of the site.

Named in ancient documents and in the Enclosure Award Schedule, this site is of great antiquity. The name may be derived from the Old English ‘hyme’, meaning a nook or corner of land and may therefore have acquired the Old English name ‘Bulherne’ because its shape suggested a beast’s horn. The allotment to Thomas Farnhill numbered as plot 412 in the South Field on the Enclosure Map of 1800 bears the exact shape of a bull’s horn and is named in the Schedule as Bull Horn Close.

Referred to in a document of 1675 this site may be named from the land where a bull was kept. The site does not appear under the name Bullock Close in the 1793 Enclosure Survey but is probably that named as Bullock, being a four acre rectangular plot lying north of the South Moor (Lane) Road near the town end of the former common land.

The name may be a derivative of ‘burnt land’, arising from the method of clearing stubs of shrubs and trees as part of the process of assortment in order to increase the amount of land for cultivation. Alternatively, the phonetic element of the name has much in common with ‘fardles’ and may derive from that word which meant a bundle or burden and may therefore have been an ironic adaptation, indicating poor quality land which was burdensome to work. The one acre enclosure was situated at the top end of the Bendles and was triangular shaped.

One of the original bridges constructed over the canal between 1820-26, providing access to the river from Hill Top and situated between Gaggs Bridge and Mill Bridge. The diversion of river traffic following the opening of the canal in 1826 resulted in the decline of the river trade and when it was decided to replace the original canal bridges of the town some decades later, it was also decided to demolish the largely redundant Butler Bridge. Elements of the foundations of the bridge may still be seen on the opposite side of the canal from the towpath just south of Kings Mills.

A three acre enclosure originally part of the Middle Field. The site is a personal place name, the Butler family being prominent residents within the township by the late eighteenth century.

The name is recorded in the sixteenth century. The original location is uncertain but the name may be one which earlier identified the site later known as Sunny Bank. Buttlebank may derive from the combination of the terms ‘butt’ and ‘bank’ which were common features found at the edges of the common fields. Alternatively, the ‘Buttle’ element may denote a bank where buttercups grew in profusion. Again, favouring a south facing site such as Sunny Bank.

Not all furlongs were of precise geometric shape. The curvatures of some furlong boundaries meant that not all doles of land were rectangular but that some, located at the edges of the arable land were small irregularly shaped pieces known as gores or butts.

Terry Spencer

INDEX | A-B | C-D | E-F | G | H | I-J | K-L | M-N | O | P | Q-R | S | T-U | V-W | YARDS |



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