Also by Terry Spencer
The following studies by Terry Spencer are now available on the Knottingley
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
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.
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.
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
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
Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History
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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A large block of nineteenth century dwellings situated on the river bank
at the west end of the Flatts close by the Kings Houses and probably
named from the fact that they occupied the most easterly portion of the
buildings of upper Aire Street located between Chapel Street and the
East Parade was demolished in the 1960s as part of the Aire Street
A brick-built church standing in Tithe Barn Road bearing the date 1882 on
the foundation stone which is so weathered that all other details has
been obliterated. The building was erected as the base of the Red Ribbon
Army following a breakaway from the Salvation Army, itself but recently
established within the town and also identified as the Red Ribbon Army.
A newspaper report dated 1893 refers to the celebratory service to mark
the church anniversary indicating that the church opened in 1893.
The breakaway group became identified as the Tabernacle Free Church circa
1910 and between 1928-30 as the Tabernacle Full Gospel Church. In the
latter year the group was incorporated into the Elim Foursquare Alliance
and was then named the Elim Church, although still referred to by many
locals as the Tabernacle.
Location unknown but land by a copse, presumably predominated by elm trees.
Derived from the Old English ‘hyrst’.
As the term ‘balk’ implies, a division between two cultivated strips of
land. Name and location unknown.
A two acre enclosure formed by consolidation of peasant strips located
within the Middle Field alongside Racca Field Lane.
Situated in upper Aire Street at the junction with Back Lane, this property
was owned for over 40 years from the 1830s by Francis England, a grocer
and maltster. By the mid twentieth century the house with shop was in
the possession of the Benton family and served for two decades as the
Knottingley Post Office before the building was demolished as part of
the Aire Street regeneration scheme in the late 1960s.
The name probably derives from the Old English ‘inland’ meaning assarted
land taken in and enclosed by an individual before being incorporated
into the open field system by extension of the common field. Such
intakes were usually made on the fringe of the waste or common and
assuming that Spawd Bone Lane once formed the most southerly boundary of
the manorial fields, the route leading beyond the common field to the
assarted enclosures acquired the name England Lane.
With the extension of the common fields following the adoption of the
Midland three field system, the intakes were eventually absorbed by the
giant South Field complex, with England lane forming a dividing line
between the South and Middle fields.
A two acre meadow situated opposite Headlands Lane close to the site of
Mount Pleasant. The land was later a limestone quarry and subsequently
FARM FLATT CLOSE
A three acre enclosure on the edge of the former open field boundary close
to Doveroyde Farm where the lands of Knottingley, Ferrybridge and
An area of tertiary settlement at the east end of Knottingley and one of the
three ‘greens’ areas of settlement (the others being the Racca and
Swinely greens.) Lying on the fringe of the central area, Fernley Green
was most probably carved out of the surrounding woodland and common by
There were two ferries in the township; one at either end of the Flatts at
which point the river is shallow.
The King’s Ferry was situated at the western end of the Flatts behind East
Parade and took its name from its proximity to the Kings Houses which
originally belonged to the religious order based at Meaux but became
Crown storehouses in the sixteenth century.
On the Island Court site at the east end of the Flatts, was the public ferry
which was operational until the demolition and reconstruction of Aire
Street in the 1960s. Generations of Knottingley inhabitants paid a penny
to be ferried over to the ‘island’ in the centre of the river from where
a causeway permitted access to Brotherton Marsh, a favourite spot for
walks and picnics in the years preceding the mid twentieth century.
The ferryman was a manorial appointment and throughout the nineteenth
century the office was determined by the Select Vestry. Two
well-remembered ferrymen during the following century were ‘Crafty’
Spence and Barny Rhodes, the latter being the last to hold the post.
The residence of the Woolf family, proprietors of the nearby potteries
Alternative name for the site of Trundles Close in the great East Field.
In pre local authority days it was common for private establishments to
operate their own fire brigades. While the primary purpose of such
brigades was to protect their own premises they often turned out to
assist local townspeople when conflagrations occurred. Foremost in this
respect was the brigade belonging to Carter’s Knottingley Brewery
Following the establishment of the Knottingley Urban District Council in
1893 a town fire brigade was formed. In 1898 it was proposed to convert
part of the Chapel Street schools site as a town fire station and
simultaneously, Bagley & Co., allowed a buzzer to be installed on their
factory site to be sounded to summon the part-time firemen in the event
of a public fire.
The following year it was decided to prepare plans for a fire station at
Racca Green but in 1899 it was decided that the Pinfold site was
unsuitable as it was not in the centre of the town and the cost involved
in conversion of the site was almost as much as that for new premises.
However, a temporary station was established on the site and this was
retained until well into the twentieth century when the station was
established in premises belonging to the Brewery Company at Hill Top.
In the 1960s a modern purpose-built and permanently manned station was built
at Hazel Road on the fringe of the Warwick estate and this serves the
FLAGG LANE / WALK
The route which led from Cow Lane to the Tithe Barn was a narrow dirt track
named Flagg Lane or Flag Walk from the wild irises (flags) growing at
the path side. The lane was probably a field balk in the early communal
field system and was not paved (flagged) until 1869.
The flatts were areas of land used for cultivation and alternatively known
as furlongs. The first and best recorded flat in Knottingley township is
the one alongside the river in Aire Street which has been held in
commonality for about a thousand years and is known simply as the
FORGE HILL CHAPEL
The chapel of the Primitive Methodists, known as the Zion Chapel. The
worshippers came to the town early in the nineteenth century and first
occupied an old sail loft before erecting a small chapel in Bells Yard,
off Aire Street, in 1818. In 1832 a chapel and schoolroom were built at
the bottom of Forge Gill Lane. Toward the close of the century the
chapel was in such a state of disrepair that it was considered to be
unsafe and was closed for some years. In April 1890, however, a complete
renovation was undertaken and a celebration tea was held in Knottingley
Town Hall to commemorate the event. The reopening of the chapel for
worship in October that year was marked by a parade through the town led
by Knottingley Silver Prize Band.
FORGE HILL LANE
The lane connecting part of the former demesne containing the manorial mills
and the highway to Pontefract was later designated as Forge Hill Lane. A
forge is recorded close by the Kings Mills in 1709, suggesting that it
may have been established in the previous century and perhaps earlier as
its foundation may have occurred in parallel with the rise of
shipbuilding within the town.
A modern appellation for the roadway connecting Racca Green with the canal
and deriving its name from the proximity with the nearby foundry of
Armytage Bros. The name was also applied by extension to the surrounding
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