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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Probably a linguistic development of Had Close, itself a variant of
Hadland or Headland. The name is derived from the Old English ‘heafod’
or ‘haga’, indicating a fenced enclosure. The location was probably
close to the river as the site is recorded in a survey of the river Aire
A misnomer for Marine Villa which gained popular usage during the last
Initially, the business offices of John Harker & Co., Ltd., were located at
the former Stainsby & Lyon chemical works (later Y.T.D.) at the eastern
fringe of the town but in 1947 new premises were built at Low Green,
near the entrance to Common Lane, for the administration of the business
of the expanding Lyon & Lyon group of companies.
The office block was named Harker House after John Harker, the former
manager of the local Aire Tar Works and founder of the canal carrying
trade, after whom the shipyard established in 1929 had been named and
which in the post war boom from the late 1940s saw the construction on a
regular basis of the ‘dales’ fleet of oil tankers for the service of the
company as well as the vessels built for other users.
The early 1970s witnessed a fuel crisis which resulted in a rapid decline in
the company’s carrying trade and ultimately in local shipbuilding
activity. From that time the Lyon & Lyon group sought to diversify its
business interests and in consequence, Harker House is, at the time of
writing, leased out to Ex Pac Packaging Company.
A row of houses which stood across Fernley Green from the early twentieth
century until demolished in the 1960s. Named for John Harker, manager of
the local tar distillery and Chairman of Knottingley U.D.C, 1903 and
Name derives from the Old English meaning land with course grass. The Closes
were situated within the Middle Field at the boundary edge with
Darrington Leys. The larger of the two closes had no less than 12 nooks
Named for its nearness to hazel trees which supplied nuts for human and
animal consumption or for proximity to Hazel Lane.
A pathway at the perimeter of the South Field leading to the grazing land at
Darrington Leys and lined, inter alia, with hazel nut bushes. The lane
was probably a headland at the time of the open field system and only
later became tree lined following the contraction of open field
agriculture from the fourteenth century.
Every furlong had a headland created by the soil deposited ahead of the
plough as it was turned to move in a reverse direction. Numerous
indications of former headlands are to be found within Knottingley but
as in the case of the Flatts, one particular site, Headlands Lane,
represents the many which once existed. Glebe Lane, Marine Villa Road,
Forge Hill Lane, Womersley Road, Spawd Bone Lane and Bendles Lane are
but a few of the locations which were originally headlands situated
within the open fields of the town.
The location of this lane is not known. The Old English ‘helde’ means a
slope while ‘heal’ indicates high land by the bends of a stream so it is
possible that Heald Lane was situated close to the river Aire either at
the Hill Top end of the town or at the other extreme; the fields
adjacent to Gascoigne Reach where the river bends and the banks are high
which seems the most likely prospect.
The series of ‘islands’ running along the length of the river Aire between
Kings Mills and Garner Haven and situated about a third of the width of
the river from the Flatts, are the eroded remains of a causeway or
‘hedge’ which was constructed in the river about 1738 with the aim of
narrowing and deepening the channel on the town side in order to
facilitate navigation by vessels of larger burthen. Following the
opening of the canal, the river trade declined to non existence and the
hedge was no longer maintained, hence the appearance of the ‘islands’
following the breakthrough of the river.
A roadside landmark situated at the summit of Hill Top. Probably marked the
boundary of the manorial vill and was possibly the location of a shrine
in the Middle Ages. High Cross Close is shown on the Enclosure Map near
to the crossroads formed by the junction of Ferrybridge Hill and Weeland
Road so the junction probably marks the site of the cross.
An area of the town marked by development at either side of the Weeland Road
between Knottingley Town Hall and Warren Avenue at the western edge of
HILL TOP HOUSE
One of a pair of late nineteenth century houses which stand at right angles
in a yard alongside Brewery Lane. Little is known of previous owners
except that Hill Top House was the residence of Mrs Elizabeth Atkinson
in the 1880s-1890s and the dental surgery and residence of Mr. Tom
Stirling in the middle decades of the last century. The other house,
named Holme Lea, was, from the closing decades of the nineteenth century
to the mid 1920s, the home of Mrs Roberts who donated a peal of eight
bells to St. Botolph’s Church in 1890 and also other benefactions. Mrs
Roberts was the daughter of George Greenhow, a druggist, prominent in
the civic life of the town from the third quarter of the nineteenth
HILL TOP ROPEWALK
Situated at Hill Top at the eastern side of the junction with Forge Hill
Lane, this ropewalk was owned by Edward Gaggs and following his demise,
by William Moorhouse as one of his diverse business interests. In the
early nineteenth century the ropewalk was worked by Horatio Woods.
Following the death of Moorhouse in 1865, the ropewalk became defunct
when the Moorhouse estate was purchased by William Jackson. The site was
subsequently sold to John Carter and absorbed into the Mill Close
In common with the Bendles, this was an area of irregular limestone
extraction situated in the demesne land near the river Aire and adjacent
to the Kings Mills. Limestone pits are recorded near this location as
early as the thirteenth century and it is probable that a number of bell
pits gave rise to the area being named as the Holes. The construction of
the mill weir resulted in maritime activity and associated business
being undertaken and the site becoming a centre of local population so
that the name of the holes site was applied to the area in general.
HOLES POTTERY The
Situated at the junction of Forge Hill Lane and The Holes, this small
pottery was established by the Masterman family in the early nineteenth
century and functioned until about 1881. Thomas Masterman took advantage
of the Wellington Beer Act of 1830 to obtain a beerhouse licence and
established the Potters Arms on the site. The beerhouse closed in 1907.
A path connecting Chapel Street with Primrose Hill. A former balk in the
early open field system. The name is probably of more recent origin,
commemorating the Hollingworth family who were resident in the town for
about one hundred years from the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
At that time and into the last century, it was usual to lock a gate
situated at the Chapel Street end of the lane on one day of each year in
order to preserve the legal status of the lane as a private road.
c.f. Hill Top House
HOPEWELL HOUSE / FARM
A large detached house with substantial, formally arranged gardens, standing
in the Holes. Little is known of its origins except that it was erected
before 1840. By the 1870s it was the residence of Edwin Wood, lime and
cement merchant and farmer, who was previously resident at Bridge House,
Hill Top. Edwin inherited the house and adjacent farmstead from Thomas
Wood, possibly the builder of Hopewell House. The house was the
residence of the Horn family early last century until demolished later
in the century. Shaw’s foundry occupied the site of the farmyard for
most of the twentieth century.
A small enclosure of pastureland, a mere rood in extent, situated at the
junction of Dark (Narrow) Lane and Pontefract Road, the site of the
present York House, Hill Top.
Originally known as Pighill (Pickhill) Garth, this land lay adjacent to the
Crown land alongside the Aire upon which shipbuilding was undertaken. It
is therefore unsurprising that a ropewalk should be established close by
the shipyard. The first known proprietor is Robert Standidge but the
site is more popularly identified with the subsequent owner, John
Howard, who took over in 1844, hence Howard’s Field.
Sometime after the death of John Howard, the ropewalk was abandoned and the
site cleared. Under Howard’s widow the site became used as a recreation
ground and by the end of the nineteenth century was the home of the
Knottingley Cricket Club. Public events such as carnival gala’s and the
annual horticultural show were regularly held on the site which was also
used by travelling circuses. The site was obtained by the local
carpenter and farmer, Benjamin Braim, following Mrs Howard’s death and
was known to some as Braim’s Field. The field was later acquired by
Knottingley U.D.C. but continued in use for public events, the Festival
of Britain Gala in 1951, and sundry local carnivals being prime
examples. Today, Howard’s Field is the home of Knottingley Rugby Union
HUGGARD CLOSE / LOW HUGGARD CLOSE
A place cleared of trees lying close to existing land, therefore probably an
individual assart which was eventually incorporated into the great
field. May be the original name for Hugger Close.
Low Huggard Close is possibly a sub-division of Huggard Close or a separate
assart adjacent to the same.
A six acre enclosure situated in the South Field adjacent to the Longfields
furlong. The meaning of the name is unknown but the land is close to a
former ridgeway across South Field and may be said to ‘hug’ the path but
possibly a linguistic transformation of Huggard Close. The site was
referred to as Hugget Close by 1842, presumably a further linguistic
A pair of brick-built cottages situated at the edge of the former Bendles
Field opposite Banks Lane, Weeland Road. The houses were erected in
1862. Based on the name it may be presumed that the original owner was a
seaman who remains unidentified as yet.
By 1881 one of the houses was occupied by Thomas Brook, a glassblower, whose
descendant. Norman Brook, was one of the founding partners of
Knottingley Printers, the firm being established in the mid-twentieth
century and occupying this site until its subsequent move to Hill Top a
few decades later.
The houses are presently in a state of semi-dereliction and their appearance
suggests they seem likely to face eventual demolition.
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