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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 |

The cutting of the Aire & Calder Canal through Knottingley between 1820-26, necessitated the construction of a series of road bridges within the township. Of the seven principal bridges those known as Gaggs Bridge, Jackson Bridge and Butler Bridge were named after the families owning the land in their locality. The name of Shepherds Bridge is less certain and may be either a personal or occupational name. Cow Lane Bridge is self explanatory and likewise Skew Bridge which lies diagonally askew the canal near the eastern edge of the town. Calder Grange Bridge lies at the eastern extreme of the town.
Two minor bridges, the Mill Bridge adjacent to the Kings Mills, and Trundles Bridge, covering the canal junction at the northern end of Trundles Lane, were originally stone built but in the late twentieth century were replaced by more functional but less aesthetically pleasing steel bridges.
Butler Bridge, leading from Hill Top to the commercial and residential centre on the riverside below Kings Mills was demolished when the original canal bridges were replaced in 1877-78, at which time the crowns of the rebuilt Cow Lane Bridge, Shepherds Bridge and Skew Bridge, were raised to enable the passage of larger vessels beneath. Simultaneously. The access to the towpath at Shepherds Bridge was moved from the Sunny Bank side to the eastern side of the bridge.
In the 1990s work was undertaken to strengthen the Cow Lane, Shepherds and Skew bridges.

Knottingley became a Catholic parish in 1964 and the first Catholic Church was built on the Hill Top site of the former Ingram manor house. Within a few years the church was destroyed by an arson attack and the present one, dedicated to St Michael, was erected upon the same site in 1996.

A lane on the western fringe of Knottingley, leading to the grazing or pastureland on the edge of the South Field near to the boundary with Darrington. The name is recorded as Cattle Layer in 1771 which probably derived from Cattleleases. More recently the location was referred to as Cattle Leys Lane. The word derives from the Old English ‘laes’ meaning meadowlands. After harvest the cattle were turned out into the great fields to graze the stubble and to manure the soil.

From its eleventh century foundation until 1725 the church dedicated to St Botolph served as a chapel of ease for the inhabitants of Knottingley which formed part of the parish of Pontefract, hence the designation of the street in which the church stood, as Chapel Street. Although the township was made a perpetual curacy in 1725, it remained part of the parish of All Saints, Pontefract, until 1789 by which date the street name was so well established that it remained unchanged thereafter.

Originally a private residence situated at Fernley green close to the east end of the Liquorice lane, this property became a beerhouse known as the Beehive following the passing of the Wellington Act in 1830. Following the withdrawal of the licence in 1926 the premises were sold and for many years were used as offices by the adjacent coopers firm, declining into a state of dereliction before finally being demolished in the 1960s.

Standing at the junction of Aire Street, marsh End and Cow Lane, Chelsea House is one of three Knottingley residences, named after types of pottery and belonging to members of the Poulson family, local earthenware manufacturers. The other two residences are Dresden House (off Glebe Lane, Hill Top) and Wedgwood House (Ropewalk). The properties have long ceased to belong to the Poulson's. Chelsea House was latterly the residence of K.U.D.C. Chairman, Pilgrim Gross.

Situated at Low Green, this building was a pair of houses belonging to John Pickering by the late eighteenth century, having been a single unit at an earlier date.
The house may have been the original site of the Cherry Tree Inn for one Robert Pickering is listed as an innkeeper in 1752 and the relocation of the Cherry Tree Inn to a site at the junction of Cow Lane and Marsh End by the early nineteenth century under the proprietorship of James Pickering, may have enabled the former location, consisting of a public and a private area, to be converted into two separate dwellings.

The name of a large detached house which formerly occupied land lying between the Wakefield – Goole Road and Simpsons Lane, close to Cattlelaithes Lane, and named from the avenue of horse chestnut trees lining the long driveway.
The house was the residence of the Bagley family, glass manufacturers, in the late nineteenth century but was eventually owned and occupied by Mr Sam Gregg, a pattern maker, who is alleged to have won the house and the adjacent foundry in a poker game in the early 1900s. The new proprietor renamed the business as the Model Foundry and resided at the Chestnuts which served as a family home and business centre. The surrounding land included tennis courts, bowling green, and extensive flower beds, shrubberies and orchard. In the 1970s, Knottingley Council considered the purchase of the property for conversion into a youth club but the proposal never came to fruition and the estate was privately purchased, following which the house was demolished, the chestnut trees cut down and the land used for development as a private housing estate.

As Knottingley developed residentially during the nineteenth century a separate ecclesiastical parish was created for East Knottingley and a new church, known as Christ Church, was built on land donated by Mrs Seaton and known as Seatons Croft.
The foundation stone was laid by William Moorhouse of Marine Villa who had been instrumental in obtaining funds to facilitate construction and the church was consecrated by the Archbishop of York in October 1848.
Oral tradition states that one of the masons employed in the construction of the church was Tom Sayers the famed bare knuckle champion of Great Britain.
In 1941 the two parishes of the town were reunited and Christ Church was deconsecrated in 1968 and demolished in the early 1970s.

A lane leading from the peasant tofts and crofts in Aire Street to the demesne and sole entrance to the parish church in Chapel Street. Originally it was merely a dirt path connecting with the Back Lane but by the eighteenth century contained a number of dwelling houses. Today it is a flagged path lying between and running parallel to upper Aire Street and the new Croft road.

A large detached town house of the late eighteenth-early nineteenth century standing opposite the Chapel Street entrance to St Botolph’s Church. The property appears never to have had a formal name bestowed upon it. The house is referred to as Church Street House in 1872 but this name appears to have been for ease of identification rather than a formal designation of the dwelling which was the residence of the Jackson family by the 1830s and remained in their possession for almost half a century. The house was part of a complex of buildings which included stables, stable yard and outbuildings. In 1875 the newly established local School Board acquired the property and converted it for use as a schoolroom, teacher’s and caretaker’s residences and by the 1930s the house was in use as the W.R.C.C. Divisional Education Offices with a clinic standing at right angles to the schoolrooms. In the 1950s the house became the Knottingley Branch Library and the clinic section was used by Stephen House, a manufacturer of leather goods. When the premises were again vacated in the 1970s the former dwelling served briefly as the base of the Knottingley Boxing Club before passing into a period of abandonment and decline. The property was subsequently purchased and has been recently refurbished.

A small two rood partition of a larger modern five acre field bearing the same name, the small portion presumably being the actual clay pit. This parcel of land was situated on the edge of the South Field at the boundary with Darrington parish and is probably the ‘Claywick’ site referred to below.

Originally a selion or strip holding in the Low Field which was presumably identified by the surname of the landholder.

The element clay comes from the Old English ‘Claeg’ whilst the Old English ‘wic’ indicates land used for a special purpose, in this case presumably, the extraction of clay for use in the making of domestic utensils. Claywick Lane was therefore the access way to a parcel of land with clayey soil. Claywick Close, also known as Claypit Close, was situated in the Middle Field near Waterfield Hill.

A plot of land adjacent to Claypit Close. The name Claywood clearly predates the clearance of trees in order to extend the area of the great South Field.

A misnomer for a location on the east side of Womersley Road. The edge of the cliff was originally a field balk, separating furlongs lying within the East Field of the common field system and the cliff was created by the excavation of the limestone underlying the adjoining land during the nineteenth century.

Situated to the south side of Weeland Road at Hill Top, and bounded on the south side by the series of closes which now form Knottingley Playing Fields, this parcel of land was purchased early in the twentieth century by Tom Jackson, one of the founding partners of the glass container manufacturers, Jackson Bros., Ltd., upon which a detached residence was erected and named as The Close. The house was referred to colloquially as ‘Crooked Villa’ by many contemporaries who alleged, albeit without proof, that the building had been financed from money obtained from Victor Wild and the Allen brothers, Tom and William, who had originally formed part of the subsequently dissolved business partnership. The property was originally named as Jacksonville but was retitled when someone altered the name board to ‘Pinchville’ which action some ascribe to John Jackson’s habit of stopping a ½ hours pay from employees caught slacking or laughing.
In the 1960s, The Close was purchased by Knottingley Urban District Council and converted into the administrative offices of the Council. Following the reorganisation of local government early in the following decade, the K.U.D.C. was abolished and The Close became the property of the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council who subsequently used it as a Housing Department office.

A parcel of land a little over 3 acres in extent lying at the north side of the Croft near Cow Lane end and later known as the Orchard. The appellation is commonly used to denote the habitat of woodcocks and was probably an early clearing in which the birds settled in the evening and breeding season and were frequently netted to provide food.

Situated in Cow Lane at the east end of the Bendles and occupying the land in front of the former Commercial (now Steam Packet) Inn from which the dockyard took its name, this shipbuilding and repair yard, also known as Carpenter’s Yard, was operated by Robert Garlick and later by John Branford who also had a canal carrying business, his hauling horses being kept in stables in the nearby Bendles. It was from this site that the first screw steamer, the Message, was launched in 1893.

The common land was situated at the eastern end of Knottingley and as its name implies, was wasteland held in commonality by the manorial inhabitants. The common was a most valuable area as it provided free grazing for livestock, roots, beech mast and nuts (pannage) for pigs, turf (turbury) for fuel and building purposes and firewood. The area of commonland extended eastwards from Knottingley as far as Hut Green (Eggborough) and was held in severalty by the inhabitants of Beal, Kellington, Stubbs and Whitley until its enclosure at the end of the eighteenth century. Today the bulk of the land is arable but to the north side of Common Lane there is some industrial activity, the two principal firms being a chemical works, established in the 1950s and Kellingley Colliery constructed in the following decade.

The pathway from Low Green providing access to the common or waste land at the east end of the township.

A detached house situated at the west side of Cridling Park Lane at the edge of Knottingley Common. The house was built in the late eighteenth century by John Blackburn, a ships carpenter with workshop, stable, dovecote and brewhouse, and features in both the Enclosure Award (1793) and the Tithe Apportionment (1842). At the latter date it was occupied by Mary and Richard Blackburn, probably the widow and son of the builder. By the late 1850s the house and garden, comprising two roods 23 perches of land, belonged to Richard Blackburn but was occupied by one Samuel Gill. The holding passed briefly into the trusteeship of the Long family, resident at the Old (Wildbore) Manor House, Knottingley, and by the 1860s was in the hands of James Afflic, a descendant of the Blackburns. Between the 1870s and 1920 the owner was George William Carter, erstwhile brewer of Knottingley and was then obtained by George Burdin. Following his incapacity and eventual death the house was deserted and in the early 1940s provided a periodic hideaway for a couple of local Army deserters when sought by the military police. By the 1950s the property was in an advanced state of dereliction and was eventually demolished.
The house was never formally named. John Blackburn is said to have referred to it as ‘Ducalfield Hall’ and it was affectionately known as ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’ by Burdin. So strong was the association of the site with the former family that the adjacent Cridling Park Road, the exclusive entrance route to Near Park Farm prior to 1817, was renamed as Blackburn Lane.

A group of nonconformist worshippers came to the township from Pontefract in 1804 using the cottage of Dame Gawthorpe until 1807 when a chapel was built in Gaggs Yard off Aire Street. By 1848 the chapel was too small and the present one was built in the Croft costing in excess of £1,000, including the price of the site. In 1955 major alterations were undertaken. The gallery was removed and the building was sub-divided horizontally, the church being on the upper floor and the Sunday School on the lower. There was also an adjacent Sunday schoolroom, used as a meeting room for church and public events. The room was demolished in the late 1950s when the Garden Lane area was developed for housing. The church has a graveyard which includes the grave of Dr William Bywater, a prominent medical practitioner and businessman within the town in the mid nineteenth century.

A large red brick building of the early twentieth century situated on the roadside at Hill Top. With the advent of local supermarket shopping in the 1960s the trade of the Co-operative store declined and the building was closed and demolished. Ironically Morrisons supermarket occupies the site today.

One of the principal manorial routes, this lane connected the primary area of settlement (Aire Street) with the secondary area of settlement at Racca Green and the tertiary area at Fernley Green.  Cow Lane provided access for livestock to the grazing and watering areas at the riverside. Clear documentary evidence exists indicating the embodiment of ancient grazing rights in individual holdings in the post feudal era with citizens dwelling in Racca Green and Cow Lane being allocated “horse or beast gates” on Brotherton Marsh.

An unmade cart and bridle track running across the western edge of Knottingley Common. Prior to 1817 when an alternative route leading off Womersley Road was laid, the Cridling Park Road was the sole means of access to Near Park Farm. The new route proving more popular, the older road was less used and following the establishment of a house and homestead by John Blackburn in the late eighteenth century, the lane formerly known as Cridling Park Road became known as Blackburn Lane.

A landholding (shutt, or shott being a variant name for such an area customarily about ten acres in size) situated in the Longlands furlong of the great South Field. The term ‘far’ comes from the Old English ‘feor’ indicating land at some distance from the settlement area, as confirmed by reference to the Enclosure Map. The site has a clearly discernible bow or curve along its length which explains the prefix ‘Crooked’. The terms ‘Fur’ and ‘Fir’ which are also found in references to this land may be ascribed to linguistic distortions over time rather than being topographical or locational characteristics.

A lane also known as Narrow Lane, originally a footpath connecting the demesne land with the highway to Pontefract and the South Field beyond and now erroneously regarded as the upper part of Holes Lane, being the unmade part located to the west of Ferrybridge Road.  The original name probably arose in consequence of the shade cast by the overhanging trees which lined either side of the narrow path.

Standing next to the Salvation Army citadel, Weeland Road, this building was erected about 1940 as a precautionary measure to counter the possible use of gas or other chemical elements by enemy aircraft in raids on the civilian population. In the post war period the building was used as a W.R.C.C. dental clinic and eventually sold as commercial premises.

Manorial land reserved for the exclusive use of the lord of the manor and worked by the inhabitants of the manor on a day labour basis in return for land held of the lord. At Knottingley the demesne was situated between Weeland Road at Hill Top and the river and reached from a point slightly east of Chapel Street to the western fringe of The Holes.

The name given to the roadway which was constructed in the mid nineteenth century to provide access to the coal staithes alongside the Wakefield-Goole railway line from Racca Field Lane (Womersley Road) to the east and England Lane to the west, bisected by Middle Lane. The road, which followed the line of a medieval footpath crossing Racca Field, curved in a semi-circle round an extensive area of land known as Depot Field at the eastern edge of which stood the Pickling Tank.  The road was owned and maintained by the L.M.S. Railway Company and public access was stopped each New Year’s Day morning by workmen who placed a chain across the ends of the road to assert the Company’s legal control.

An enclosure of land which prior to assortment was associated with presence of deer.

Now an outbuilding of Thistleton farm. Dog breaking was a fringe occupation in the town in the mid nineteenth century with Henry Smith and his son, Thomas, being listed in the 1851 census as resident on the site and subsequently at Racca Green. The site name presumably derives from a former resident dog breaker named George Smith, the family being recorded at Common Lane end in the early nineteenth century with Edward Smith listed as a gamekeeper and dog trainer in 1828.

At first consideration a name induced by topographical imagery but more likely to derive from the profusion of dog-tail grass on or adjacent to the site.  Dog Tail Close was a furlong in the South Field but an alternative one acre site in the Low Field was known as Dog Tails, perhaps from the original strips of land.

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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