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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Situated on the periphery of Knottingley township being that part of
the Great Northern Road (A1) between Grove Hall and the Ferrybridge
The line of the Wakefield – Goole road (A645) was from medieval times the
principal route connecting the hinterland with the Humber ports. Prior
to the construction of the Ferrybridge roundabout which preceded the
present flyover, a grassy plot marked the crossroads. On this site stood
the public gallows, its grizzly fruit serving as a warning to potential
miscreants. It is claimed on good authority that the decaying elements
of the gibbet were a feature of the scene as late as the end of the
Built in 1875 at the east corner of Middle Lane by a member of the Beckett
family, the hose was later successfully integrated into a terrace of
houses named Beckett’s Row. The name Garden House was also used at a
slightly earlier period in the nineteenth century to identify a property
located at Marsh End.
The name of a lane running between Primrose Hill and Cow Lane. Originally a
field balk running parallel to the Croft, the ridge became a pathway
between the two locations. A three acre parcel of land at the north side
was commonly known as The Garden and during the first half of the
twentieth century was an allotment site. The site was utilised for
council house development in the late 1950s and the footpath adopted as
a road although still known as Garden Lane.
The name is probably derived from the butts or gores at the edge of an
irregular shaped furlong in one of the three fields. The lane probably
provided access to one of the fields though which is not known.
GARNER (GANDER) HAVEN
The property most recently known as Gander Haven farm was originally a
domestic dwelling. The site, identified merely as an allotment in the
Ings in the Enclosure Award Schedule of 1793, was originally named
Gander Haven and was the site of a clay pit and by the mid nineteenth
century was used for the manufacture of bricks and tiles but later
became a farmstead, the name of which was linguistically transformed to
Gander Haven, presumably because of the farming connection. By the end
of the nineteenth century the name had become further transformed, the
site being referred to as the ‘Ganner’. The last family to farm the land
were the Jackson’s. Following archaeological excavation in 2004 the
house was demolished prior to the construction of anti flood defences.
The name is derived from the Old English ‘gaers-tun’, meaning grassland.
Gascoigne Reach was the bend in the River Aire east of Bank Dole.
Following the reorganisation of the common fields, Gascoigne Reach
became the northern border of the great East Field.
In 1844, Thomas Bell, a chemist of Aire Street, introduced the manufacture
of coal gas to the town. By the end of the decade the principal places
of business, and gradually the main thoroughfares of the township, were
lit by gas. The supply was produced by the Knottingley Gas Company,
established by Bell and other wealthy and influential townsmen. The site
of manufacture was Ings Lane which before the end of the century was
popularly known as Gas House Lane.
The mid twentieth century witnessed the demise of the company due to
nationalisation of the industry and the introduction of North Sea gas a
few decades later drastically reduced the demand for town gas so that by
the century’s end, Knottingley gasworks, like the original company, had
GENTLEMENS’ CLUB The
Situated at the top of the Ropewalk, this social club was frequented by the
professional middle class men of the town and neighbourhood. Founded
circa 1860 by a local teacher, Thomas Speak, who served as Club
Secretary and later as Secretary of the Liberal Club and also of
Knottingley Gas Co., the institution outlived its founder, finally
closing in 1947 at which time it was known as Knottingley Social Club.
A small estate of terrace houses built by Bagley & Co. in the late
nineteenth century as residences for their workers on the former Pinfold
Close site opposite the factory. The name is a composite of Gill and
Ann, the forenames of wives of William Bagley.
The earliest Knottingley glassworks was that of Bagley, Wild & Co.,
established at the Racca Green end of the Bendles Field in 1871. Three
years later the Round House was built on the site of a former shipyard
at Fernley Green. The latter works had a succession of proprietors
between 1875 and 1905 when the site, known by then as the Hope
Glassworks, came into the sole ownership of the Gregg family who
retained control of the firm throughout last century.
The Bagley & Wild partnership was dissolved upon the death of John Wild in
1884 and thereafter the firm traded as Bagley & Co., Ltd.
In 1887 Isaac Burdin founded a glassworks at Quarry Gap, Headlands Lane,
principally manufacturing carboys, and in 1893 Jackson Bros., was
established, initially by a five man partnership, on an adjacent site.
Burdin Bros., were bankrupted in the mid 1930s but Jackson's prospered and
built a modern factory early in the 1950s on a Greenfield site near to
their existing plant, the latter being gradually phased out and ceasing
production in the late twentieth century.
Large scale consolidation within the glass industry from the middle of the
century resulted in the take over of Bagley's by Jackson Bros., in 1962,
followed by both sites being incorporated into the Rockware Glass group
a little later.
In the latter years of the century, Rockware sold the Bagley site to the
Stolzle company and in 1999 the Headlands factory was sold to the Irish
company, Ardagh. The only remaining family firm, Greggs, became part of
Associated British Foods, merging with Lax & Shaw to form Allied Glass
Containers in 1993.
Lands held by the incumbent vicars of Knottingley, which apart from parcels
within the township were located at Kellingley, Minskip and Haddlesey.
The land situated at Kellingley, lying between Knottingley Common and
the Stocking Lane was known as the Glebelands and the pathway connecting
the two locations was named Glebe Lane.
The lane leading to the land or residence of a clergyman held as part of his
benefice. Glebe Lane led off Weeland Road at Hill Top close to Gaggs
Bridge and provided access to Spawd Bone Lane via Greenhouse Fields.
Following the sale of the Christ Church vicarage to Bagley & Co., Ltd.,
in the early twentieth century, the Glebe was the residence of sundry
incumbents of the East Parish until; 1940.
An island in the middle of the river Aire opposite Kings Mills, a corner of
which formed one end of the Mill weir. The Island, in excess of 4 acres,
is named as Willow Island on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey
map of the mid-nineteenth century.
A row of terrace houses standing to the east side of Womersley Road near
Broomhill. Built in the last decade of the nineteenth century and
probably named after General Charles Gordon, the hero of Sudan, who was
slain in 1885. One of the houses was used as a residence for the
commandants of the local Salvation Army Corps in the middle decades of
the last century.
The name given to the former Mount Pleasant site at the junction of
Ferrybridge Road and Weeland Road at Hill Top following its purchase and
refurbishment by the Knottingley brewer, John Carter, in 1871. Carter’s
widow lived there until her death in 1907 after which Ellis Williamson,
proprietor of the Kings Mills, lived there until November 1908. The
property then belonged to Bagley & Co., until the late twentieth
century. Today, the property is sub-divided into flats.
GREAT WALL CLOSE
The name of a six acre enclosure lying alongside the field boundary dividing
the South and Middle fields near Waterfield Hill at the southern end on
England Lane. The term ‘wall’ may derive from the earthen balk which
separated the two great fields.
Believed to date from 1866, this pair of brick-built houses stands on the
south side of Cow Lane bridge opposite the Bendles. One of the houses
was occupied by John Branford, proprietor of the Commercial Shipyard
situated at the opposite side of the road. The name signifies the
location of the houses as the former head of Racca Green.
GREEN HOUSE The
A house situated in Spawd Bone Lane now licensed premises known as the Green
Bottle public house, licensed in 1962. The premises were previously the
domestic base of an urban farmstead known as Greenhouse Farm and
briefly, in the early years of the last century, an Adult School.
GREEN HOUSE FARM
Land adjacent to the Green Bottle Inn in Spawd Bone Lane. For the greater
part of the preceding century the Green House had been the residence of
the occupiers of the adjacent farmstead known as Greenhouse Farm. The
farm was established by the mid-nineteenth century, being offered for
sale in 1869 and again, by a Mr Craven, the owner-occupier, three years
later, the rapid change in occupation reflecting the increasing
depressed state of British agriculture at that time. By 1880 the owner
was Mark Stainsby, a partner in the Stainsby & Lyon Aire Tar Works,
situated to the east of the town. In June 1886 Stainsby was killed,
being struck by a locomotive whilst walking along the railway line
between his home and the works, and in 1892 his widow, Mary, left the
town, renting out the property leasehold until her demise in 1905, the
tenant at the turn of the century being John Firth. The farm was
occupied as late as the 1930s and was eventually owned by Mr. G.R.
Barker. Many of the farm buildings are still in situ.
Following the establishment of Knottingley Playing Fields in 1931, the name
‘Green House’ was popularly adopted as the unofficial title for the
recreation ground which was located in the Green House Fields.
Several closes of land variously known as Greenwood Close situated between
Hill Top and Spawd Bone Lane and forming a portion of the divided
manorial lands of Knottingley in the nineteenth century, were purchased
as a result of public subscription in 1931 to enable the laying out of
Knottingley Playing Fields (commonly referred to as The Greenhouse). The
land, together with Greenwood Close, had previously been excavated for
limestone before being leased as pastureland by the tenant of Greenhouse
Farm. Following its purchase, the land was held in trust by the K.U.D.C.
and was inherited by its successor body, the Wakefield M.D.C., but
belongs to the people of Knottingley and is subject to restrictions
which allow no building development and confines use of the land to
recreational purposes. The fields are at present the subject of a 60
year leasehold agreement between the Local Authority and the Coal
Industry Social Welfare Organisation at a token rent of £1 per annum.
The lease expires in April 2025 at which time it behoves the citizens of
the town to be vigilant in order to secure their heritage.
A small street of terrace houses off Racca Green, close to Foundry Lane. The
name is probably a nostalgic evocation of ‘Green Ley’, an echo of the
original appearance of Racca Green and its environs.
A substantial brick-built, nineteenth century house situated at Hill Top
close by the junction with Marine Villa Road and owned by Francis
Reynolds, a lime merchant. In 1910 the property was converted into the
Hill Top Workingmens’ Club (Top Club) and was used as such until the
1960s when the house was demolished and new club premises were built on
the site. By the mid 1980s the club had closed and the premises were
acquired by the Five Towns’ Christian Fellowship. In 2004 the premises
were demolished to enable the space to be used for the construction of
Morrisons new supermarket.
A large detached building standing at the south end of Marine Villa Road.
Now a private nursing home, the house was the periodic residence of
several prominent Knottingley families for almost two hundred years
before late last century.
Situated at the junction of Marsh End and Ings Lane, this property was long
associated with John Howard who owned the adjacent ropewalk. However,
Grove House may have previously belonged to Howard’s father, Thomas, a
mariner, and may have been acquired from the Standage family following
the death of Robert Standage, ropemaker, in March 1841.
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