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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 ropewalk lay alongside the canal occupying the ground between the canal and Marsh Lane from Shepherds Bridge to Trundles Lane. Founded by David Kellett circa 1860, unlike its competitors, this ropewalk adopted mechanised production and therefore continued in operation long after the others within the town ceased to exist, closing down in August 1932 when Kellett relocated to Hull.

Two adjacent sites situated in the former South Field which were being excavated by Shackleton & Co., in the late eighteenth century for the underlying limestone deposits. Nearby was Kershaw Lane which connected the Simpsons and Hazel lanes. The appellation ‘Kershaw’ may derive from reference to the presence of hawthorn trees, the fruit of which are known as haws, for the name is also presented as Kirkaw in some documents but it seems more probable that Kershaw is a personal name element.

Lying on the eastern outskirts of the township, north of Weeland Road between the road and the river, the name is probably a corruption of Hemp Bank indicating land where hemp was grown for textile manufacture and rope making, for both processes are recorded within the town in the sixteenth century.

Originally in the possession of the monks of Maux, the property, situated in Aire Street, was possessed by the Crown following the dissolution of the monasteries in the period 1536-40 and thereafter became a storehouse. It has been speculated that the site may have provided lodging for Oliver Cromwell during the third siege of Pontefract Castle in 1648.
By the eighteenth century the building was divided into five domestic dwellings known as the King’s Houses, doubtless so named because of the previous ownership of the property. The old houses were knocked down and replaced by a brick-built terrace in 1912 and this in turn was demolished as part of the Aire Street redevelopment scheme about 1970.

Centrally situated on the demesne land alongside the river, the wheel was removed in 1990 but the race of the former water mill may still be seen. The mill was one of three which are recorded as occupying the site in the Middle Ages (with others also situated on the opposite river bank).
The original mill was erected in the post Conquest period and belonged to the lord of the manor, the manorial inhabitants being compelled to use the mill for grinding their corn.
In 1399 the manorial overlord, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, usurped the English throne and thereafter the mills became known as the Kings Mills.
Following the demise of the last of the Ingram family in the mid eighteenth century, the possession passed to the proprietors of the Aire & Calder Navigation Co., who farmed out the mill. The most celebrated tenant was William Jackson who held the tenancy for 43 years from 1830. The mill ceased production for a period following the end of Jackson’s tenure and were eventually reopened by Ellis Williamson. Following his death in 1908 they were operated for a time by the Croysdale family who also occupied the mill at Whitley Bridge. Following the nationalisation of the waterways in 1948 the Kings Mills were purchased by the Donovan family but were amalgamated to form the Allied Mills group some decades later.

Situated at the highest point of the Womersley Road, this site provides a panoramic view over the Downlands and the surrounding countryside and for this reason an observation post was built here during the Second World War for use by the local volunteer Observer Corps. The name of the site has been the subject of fanciful speculation for many years but the original name was the King’s Stand, being an elevated hide within Cridling Park towards which deer and game were driven to be ‘picked off’ by the waiting dignitaries concealed there.

A group of three semi-detached houses at Sunny Bank built in 1937 and named after J.W. Kipping, manager of the local tar distillery and a director of the Lyon & Lyon Group. Kipping himself lived at Arkendale Villas, Cow Lane, which he inherited from his father-in-law, John Harker, in 1911, until moving to West Mount, a detached house on Ferrybridge Hill in the mid 1920s.

A series of strip holdings situated within the Middle Field. The appellation Kitchen Chair suggests the name was prompted by some aspect of its appearance but there is nothing in the shape of the land to suggest such imagery. It is possible that linguistic transmutation rather than imagery holds the key to the name, for instance, in Holley in Leicestershire, a field named Oustreng (eastern) Meadow became identified as Austrian Meadow. Such corruption may well be applicable in respect of Kitchen Chair. Whatever relevance the name had originally is now, alas, lost in antiquity.

Prior to the early nineteenth century most local publicans brewed their own beer but in October 1801 a partnership of Edward Gaggs, Mark Carter and Robert Seaton, leased space on the site of the former Wildbore manor house, Hill Top, and commenced in business as common (i.e. public) brewers. Early in 1807 a site was chosen for a new purpose-built brewery at Mill Close, a little further up Hill Top, and this opened in 1809.
The business fell into the sole control of the Carter family by 1840 and they remained in control until in 1892, when the grandson of Mark Carter sold the business to members of the newly established public limited company. The new concern retained the tile of Carters’ Knottingley Brewery and although on site brewing ceased in 1935 following the acquisition of the firm by Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries, the name continued. In the mid 1960s the company was taken over by Whitbread plc., and the brewery ceased to operate as an administrative base. It was closed and demolished soon after. The site is now occupied by a private housing estate.

Growing urbanisation and attendant population growth during the first half of the nineteenth century posed problems concerning space for the disposal of the dead within the church burial ground. Following the establishment of a Board of Health at Knottingley in 1853 and the enactment of legislation concerning provision of public cemeteries, negotiations were undertaken concerning the establishment of a public cemetery for the township.
Land known as Park Balk Close (Womersley Road) was sold to the town by William Moorhouse for £500 in March 1858 and the cemetery was consecrated by the Archbishop of York the following year. The first interment was that of 14-year-old David Thompson on the 8th June 1859.

Established in June 1939 on land in Gas House (West Ings) Lane and known officially as Knottingley Sports Stadium, the history of this venture was ill-starred from its inception. Within a month of the opening the Second World War commenced and this led to the suspension of activity for the duration. The immediate post war period saw the reopening of the dog track but fuel shortages impaired its operation.
In an ingenious attempt to overcome the power cuts which prevented use of the electric ‘hare’ the management resorted to the use of manual control. The lure was fastened to one end of a length of stout cord and the other was attached to the tyreless rim of a bicycle wheel suspended above the ground. The effort proved largely unreliable, however, and as a result the track was closed shortly afterwards. The abandoned site stood derelict for some years before being cleared and all material sign of this abortive venture has long since disappeared.

The earliest local pottery was established in 1793 on lane a few hundred yards to the east of Ferrybridge Lane and close to the west end of the Holes. The site belonged to Timothy Smith, a coal proprietor, who joined with William Tomlinson, a grocer, and John Seaton, a banker, to establish the company known as Knottingley Pottery.
In 1851 Lewis Woolf, a London china merchant, took a five year lease on the pottery and purchased the premises in 1856. At the same time, Woolf established the Australian Pottery nearby and under him and his son Sydney, the business flourished until an economic recession in 1883 caused the bankruptcy of the latter.
The business was eventually taken over y the Horn Brothers who traded until 1920 when the two elements were separated. Production on the Knottingley Pottery site was undertaken from 1926 by Sefton & Brown (later by the Brown family alone) and then under various forms of management until under the aegis of Cauldren Potteries, the pottery closed in June 2003.

c.f. South Moor Pottery (infra)

An L shaped single storey building situated at the top end of Racca Green at its junction with Weeland Road. The rustic brick facing and hipped roof with its clay tiles are redolent of the period, the premises being built as a labour exchange in 1938 to assist the implementation of government policy to combat the high level of unemployment arising from the economic depression of the previous decade. The new building replaced the original Labour Exchange, housed in premises in Aire Street.
With the creation of Job Centres from the 1980s the old Labour Exchange became redundant and the premises were sold and subsequently let out to commercial organisations. At the present time the former labour Exchange is used as a ‘betting shop’.

By the 13th century when the term ‘lane’ was widely adopted to indicate a minor track of footpath through fields and woods, most such paths were already of considerable antiquity while many others developed from former balks, ridgeways and headlands marking the boundaries of elements within the communal field system.
Knottingley has at least 50 lanes, a few of which have, with the passage of time, been upgraded as roads. A few have become associated with modern industries, others have lost their identity or in some cases are in danger of doing so due to physical change in their surroundings. Knottingley lanes include: -
Back Lane, Banks Lane, Bendles Lane, Blackburn Lane, Brewery Lane, Bridge Lane, Carr lane, Cattlelaithe Lane, Claywick Lane, Common Lane, Cow Lane, England Lane, Ferrybridge (Road) Lane, Foundry Lane, Foreg Hill Lane, Flagg Lane, Garden Lane, Gardland Lane, Glebe Lane, Grove Lane, Hazel Lane, Headlands Lane, Heald Lane, Holes Lane, Hollingworth Lane, Ings Lane, Kershaw Lane, Liquorice Lane, Marine Villa (Road) Lane, a.k.a. Shiften, Shitten lane, Ratten Row, Rotten Row), Marlpit Lane, Marsh Lane, Middle Lane, Mill Fields Lane, Mirey Butt Lane, Morley Lane, Narrow Lane (a.k.a. Dark Lane), Orchard Lane, Pottery Lane (a.k.a. Stagg Lane), Racca Field Lane (a.k.a. Womersley Road), Shilling Hill Lane, Ship Lane, Simpsons Lane, Southfield Lane, South Moor Lane, Sowgate Lane, Spawd (Spald) Bone Lane, Springfield Lane, Stocking Lane, Tithe Barn (Road) Lane, Trundles Lane, Water Lane, Waterfield Lane.

The Hill Top site situated next to Mill Close in which Mark Carter built a brewery in 1808. Lime Grove Close was the chosen site for the adjacent family residence which was named Lime Grove. Following the sale of the brewery by George William Carter in 1892 the house served for a few years as the home of the manager of the new limited company trading as Carters’ Knottingley Brewery Co., Ltd., before being used solely as the company offices. In later years the house was used as a private school and leasehold residence before being converted into flats. The Brewery was acquired by Bentley’s Yorkshire Beers in 1935 and then by Whitbread & Co. in the 1960s. At this point the property became redundant and was demolished. The location is now the site of Bradley’s Bungalows, a private housing estate.

The extension of limestone excavation into the former common fields to the south and west of the town resulted in the establishment of a series of clearly defined routes between the quarries and the waterways. The six principal ones were: -
Racca Field Lane – Bendles Lane – Primrose Hill – Aire Street.
Middle Field Lane – Banks Lane – Chapel Street – Aire Street.
Waterfield Lane – England Lane – Banks Lane – Chapel Street – Aire Street.
Ridgeway – Spawd Bone Lane – Forge Hill – Holes.
Simpsons Lane – Headlands Lane – Hill Top – Forge Hill – Holes.
Warren Hill – Dar (Narrow) Lane – Holes.
Originally the routes terminated at the riverside but after 1828, at the canalside.

A narrow footpath running to the south of Manor Fold and connecting Racca and Low Green. The name is probably of mid eighteenth century origin for at that time an unsuccessful attempt was made to establish the liquorice confectionery trade at Knottingley to challenge that of Thomas Dunhill at nearby Pontefract.

A small area of only 37 perches lying adjacent to Holes Lane at its junction with Ferrybridge Hill. Originally part of the manorial demesne land, the name is self explanatory.

As early as 1840 paupers, denied access to the parish workhouse because of lack of space, were provided with accommodation in a lodging house in an unspecified location within the township. By the middle of the nineteenth century Aire Street had two lodging houses, catering mainly for casual labourers and at the end of the century there was a lodging house in Waggon & Horses Yard, a second lower down in Aire Street and a third in Back Lane. A smaller lodging house also existed at Hill Top at this time, albeit catering for a smaller, more genteel clientele. The Back Lane accommodation continued in use well into the last century before being closed down in 1925 as unsuitable for use as a common lodging house. An application to restore the premises to their former use with accommodation for 22 lodgers was rejected in 1926 and the premises were eventually demolished.

c.f. Jacksonville supra.

The location is unknown but Great Wall Close may be an alternative name in which case the site was to the east of Waterfield lane off England lane and thus in the Middle Field. The appellation ‘wall’ probably indicates an individually owned plot enclosed by a wall, doubtless constructed of local limestone, or, alternatively, the presence of a boundary marker separating the Middle and South Fields.

Three parcels of land situated close to the boundary of the East Field and land belonging to Kellington parish. The name may refer to the woodland which existed prior to the laying out of the East Field and from which the closes were cleared by individual labour. Alternatively, the name may indicate ownership by the Longwood family.

The Longwood family were resident in Knottingley by the late sixteenth century when William Longwood was indicted for encroaching on public land on the Flatts in Aire Street and stopping up a water course there. Longwood’s Walk was a former balk between cultivation strips which later became a path connecting Chapel Street with the Croft.

A landmark monument corresponding to the High Cross (c.f. supra) and situated at the eastern edge of the demesne land close to Church Lane. The area is marked today by the high rise flats known as Low Cross Court.

A linguistic corruption of Low Docks, being the shipyard sites situated near Fernley Green which were established following the opening of the Aire & Calder Canal in 1826. The ‘High Dock’ was probably the one situated on the canal bank at the Bendles adjacent to the Commercial Inn but may have been the riverside dockyard located at Mill Close.

An irregularly shaped parcel of land having six corners which was part of Waithwaite furlong in the South Field, standing slightly distant from the south side of Pontefract Road, on or near the site now occupied by Knottingley railway station. The terms ‘shott’ and ‘flatt’ are both used to identify furlongs in the common field system of agriculture. As this parcel of land is shown as a ‘L’ shaped configuration on the Enclosure Map of 1800 we may assume it was carved out of a series of strips running in one direction and a second series running at right angles to it.

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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