FIELD SYSTEMS AND PLACE NAMES
OF OLD KNOTTINGLEY
TERRY SPENCER B.A. (Hons), Ph D.
PORT OF KNOTTINGLEY :
GAZETTEER OF PLACE NAMES
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CANAL BRIDGES The
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
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
CATHOLIC CHURCH The
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
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.
CHERRY TREE HOUSE
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
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.
CHURCH STREET HOUSE
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.
CLAYWICK CLOSE / LANE
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
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
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.
COMMERCIAL DOCKYARD The
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.
COMMON LANE HOUSE
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
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
CONGREGATIONAL (UNITED REFORMED) CHURCH
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.
CO-OPERATIVE STORE The
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
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.
CRIDLING PARK ROAD
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.
CROOKED FAR SHOTT
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.
DECONTAMINATION CENTRE The
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.
DEPOT ROAD / FIELD
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
An enclosure of land which prior to assortment was associated with presence
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.
DOG TAIL CLOSE / FLATT
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.
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