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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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
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
KING’S HOUSES The
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.
KINGS MILLS The
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
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
KING’S STANDARD The
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
KITCHEN CHAIR / CLOSES
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.
KNOTTINGLEY DOG TRACK
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.
KNOTTINGLEY SOUTH POTTERY
c.f. South Moor Pottery (infra)
LABOUR EXCHANGE The
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.
LIME GROVE / CLOSE
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.
LIME ROUTES The
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
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.
LONGWOOD / LONGWOOD CLOSES
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
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.
LOW SHOTT FLATT
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
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