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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 |

Located part way along the east side of Glebe Lane, off Hill Top. A flight of stone steps which provided access for passengers using the fly-boats which plied between Leeds and Goole in the decade following the opening of the Aire & Calder Canal in 1826. The service was of short duration, being rendered uneconomical by the opening of the Wakefield-Goole railway line in 1848, although water conveyance to Goole and Hull was still possible in the late 1920s.

The towns only cinema, purpose built in 1912 and opened in February 1913. The cinema closed on the 3rd December 1960 and stood derelict for 40 years before being partially demolished in 2001. The facade was retained to form the frontage of a pair of semi-detached dwellings and stands in lower Aire Street close to the junction with Cow Lane.

St Botolphs Church parish rooms stand on part of the site of the former Town Quarry, first excavated in 1830. In August 1880 the Archbishop of York suggested filling up that part of the quarry lying alongside Chapel Street and occupying the area between the junction of Weeland Road and the Church. The Prelate’s suggestion was received with howls of laughter by members of the local Highway Board who considered the proposal impracticable if not altogether impossible. However, following the collapse of the quarry wall the following year the work of partial infilling of the site was begun. Funds were raised through Church fetes and in September 1894 the foundation stone of the Church Vestry and Parish Rooms was laid by Lady Beaumont of Carlton Towers and the rooms were opened shortly thereafter.

Situated at the top of Womersley Road overlooking the downlands, the name derives from the adjacency of the farm to the boundary of the former Cridling Park. Oral tradition claims that the building was an early inn but whilst such were frequently located alongside highways on the outskirts of towns no documentary evidence has yet been found to substantiate the claim. If an inn was ever located on the site it must have been well before the mid eighteenth century, the date of the extant documentation concerning Knottingley inns. As the farmhouse does not feature on maps before the second half of the nineteenth century the prospect of its use as an inn seems unlikely.

The East Field was bounded south and west by Cridling deer park and the above names are derived from their abutment to the park. Park Balk was a plot of land lying against the park rein, a rail-topped earthen embankment which surrounded the deer park in order to prevent the deer from roaming. Likewise, Park Gate is land close to the access point, while Park Bottom is land lying at the foot of the rein. Park Balk, while lay to the west of the Park at the east side of Racca Field Lane (Womersley Road) was donated by William Moorhouse as the site for a public cemetery in 1858. Following the excavation of the underlying limestone the graveyard was consecrated by the Archbishop of York the year following.

Situated off Weeland Road at Hill Top, this property is thought to be the original kitchen of the manor house of the Ingrams, the lords of the manor of Knottingley from the early seventeenth century. The building stood adjacent to, but separate from the manor house in accordance with architectural practice at that time which was probably a method of protecting the main hall against fire. Following the break up of the manor in the eighteenth century the kitchen was converted into the present cottage, an upper room being added. There is evidence to suggest that the new owner was a mariner. Today, the cottage is all that remains of the huge house and its hereditaments.
A detached cottage with the same name stands in Spawd Bone Lane.

A pightel or pingel were terms used in the Middle Ages to denote a small piece pf land. The name Pig Hill Garth, frequently found in property deeds of the eighteenth and nineteenth century is obviously a linguistic distortion of the original name and this had developed into the name Pickhill Garth by last century. The land once formed part of the communal flats and with the reorganisation of the open fields was retained by the lord of the manor, ultimately passing to the Crown in 1377 when Henry, duke of Lancaster, became king of England. The site became associated with the nearby Kings Stonehouse or New Hall, affording mooring and repair facilities for vessels conveying goods and equipment. By the late eighteenth century the site had become a shipbuilding and repair yard.

Situated at the eastern side of the Depot Field near the junction with Womersley Road was a building erected by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company comprising workshops and offices. The building had a large metal tank on top into which wooden sleepers and fence posts were placed and submerged in a solution of creosote to make them weatherproof, the process being known as ‘pickling’, hence the name of the building.
By the advent of the Second World War the building was no longer in use but was utilised to provide a base for the lunch breaks of Italian prisoners of war who were employed in the nearby lime quarry. A number of POWs were adept at basket making, using thin strips of cane and were allowed to sell their products to local people by private negotiation.
For reasons of public safety the Pickling Tank was demolished shortly after the end of the war and the new road between Womersley Road and England lane was constructed across Depot Field with part of the land being integrated into the Knottingley High School campus.

The Pinder was a villager appointed by the manorial court (later the Select Vestry) to round up stray livestock trespassing on the crops and pastures within the open fields of the township. Stray animals would be placed within an enclosure known as the pound and all impounded animals could only be released upon payment of a fine. The pond, for watering the livestock, together with the cottage of the Pinder were situated on Racca Green. The Enclosure Award lists land 1 rood 14 perches in extent, lying in the Upper Racca of the Low (East) Field to the Pinder of Knottingley. The Award Map reveals the grant to be a former strip or peasant holding within an unenclosed portion of the Racca Field close to the Green. The strip was probably awarded to provide grazing for the animals impounded by the Pinder. The office of Pinder continued until the 1880s when following the urban development of Racca Green the post became obsolete.

An enclosure, one acre in extent, created from the former communal strips of Racca Field and situated to the east of Racca Field Lane (Womersley Road) at its junction with Weeland Road. The site is now occupied by the houses known as Gillann Street.

A brick building standing at the top of Racca Green on the site of the former town pinfold. The premises were built by John Harker circa 1910 and used as a butcher’s shop by George Banks and later as a grocers shop. A fish and chip shop (Hobmans’) which was located in an old cottage cum shop next door transferred business to Pinfold House in the 1960s following which the former property was demolished and the present building erected upon the site.

A series of strips of land lying across the Middle Lane at its most southerly extent, the Upper Pittage lying to the west side of the path and the Lower Pittage on the eastern side. The origin of the name is uncertain but may derive from the stony nature of the arable land which is not unlike that part of the Waithwaite Field named Stoneylands.

A ploughland is another name for a caracute or ox-gang, being the amount of land a plough team of eight oxen was estimated to be capable of ploughing in one year. The term ‘shott’ is an alternative name for a selion of peasant strip and thus a ploughshott was a single strip of land lying in a furlong within one of the great fields. Plough Shott Flatt was located on the approximate site of Warren Avenue and Plough Shott Close now forms that past of the Simpsons Lane estate where the flats stand.

The name for the spur of land created by construction of the canal junction between Trundles Lane and Bank Dole Lock to facilitate access to the River Aire. The point was originally the site of the Navigation Company’s branch office and also the residence of Edward Maude, the company agent.
In the late 1940s, the shipbuilding and carrying company, John Harker Ltd., constructed a slipway on the site for the repair and maintenance of vessels and Junction House, no longer a domestic residence, was used for storage purposes as well as a British waterways office.
The oil crisis of the mid 1970s and the subsequent decline of the shipbuilding and oil carrying trade resulted in the abandonment of the site. Junction House was demolished, the site being cleared soon after.

Before the mid nineteenth century the law was enforced locally by the Parish Constable who is first recorded at Knottingley during the seventeenth century although the office dates back to the previous century.
The Parish Constable was elected at the annual Town Meeting held in March but in September 1836, John Hodgson was employed by the Select Vestry at a salary of £30 pa with two deputies who were paid £10 each per year. In 1838 a conflict arose between Hodgson and his deputy, Michael Bentley, a prominent Vestryman and the latter was supported by the Select Vestry resulting in the termination of Hodgson’s office. In May 1854 the Select Vestry revived their former policy and engaged Joseph Hey of Halifax as the township’s policeman at a salary of £1 per week plus uniform. Hey’s tenure was relatively short however, the Select Vestry dispensing with his services in October 1856.
From the following decade members of the County Police Force resided in the town, living in Farnhill’s Yard, which became known colloquially as Police Station Yard. Records show that the policeman’s house served as an office and jail until in 1896 the Police Station and constabulary housing was built next to the Board School at Weeland Road.
The presence of the County force did not, however, result in the immediate abandonment of the office of Parish Constable, the last recorded office-holder being David Tate who was elected at the annual Town Meeting in March 1884.

Formerly known as Cherry Tree Quarry, this six acre site, adjacent to Racca Field Lane, (Womersley Road) in the Low Field, had the underlying limestone extracted in the mid nineteenth century and after being worked out became the site of an urban farmstead named as The Poplars from the row of poplar trees which were planted along the frontage of the quarry bottom. In the 1980s the site was sold to property developers who demolished the farmhouse and built the present estate of private dwellings, retaining the Poplars name, but not alas, the trees…

A large detached cottage situated in Back Lane and also referred to as The Poplars, this property was occupied for most of the nineteenth century by the Misses Gaggs. Following their demise towards the century’s end, the property was sold and became the Knottingley Central Club, affectionately known as the Rat Trap. The building was demolished in the late 1960s and replaced by a modern building in the nearby Croft. The new clubhouse closed in consequence of the economic recession of the 1980s. The site is now occupied by the Riverside Residential Home.

On October 7th 1843, William Simpson Hepworth, a printer and stationer, issued a notice to the Knottingley public announcing his candidature for official appointment as the town’s Postmaster, the appointment being subject to a Town’s Meeting to be held on the 12th October.
At the subsequent meeting, Hepworth emerged as the successful candidate and shortly thereafter his business premises situated opposite the west end of the Flatts, became the official office for the collection and distribution of mail and other postal business.
The premises remained the main Post Office within the town for more than a century and the site became so closely identified with the service that the surrounding area became known as Hepworth’s Yard or Post Office Yard. As the town developed, sub post offices were established in various locations but when the business of the main Post Office was transferred in the mid twentieth century it was relocated at England House, upper Aire Street, under the proprietorship of the Barton family. Following the mass demolition of Aire Street in the late 1960s – early 1970s, new post office premises were built in Aire Street but are now located at the Arcade, Hill Top.

An enclosure at the east end of Knottingley Common, formerly the site of the South Moor Pottery. The site is named after Richard Crossley, former proprietor of the pottery. In 1901 the boiler of a locomotive on the adjacent railway line blew up and the resultant hole this made filled up with natural spring water to make the defunct pottery site semi-marshland. The site was the haunt of myriad forms of wildlife which attracted generations of local children to it until it was destroyed by the construction of Kellingley Colliery in the 1960s.

A former name for Ferrybridge Hill.

A modern name for the former Stag Lane which connected Ferrybridge Road with the Holes.

A distinctive town cottage bearing the date 1805, situated to the left of Primrose Hill at the junction with Hollingworth Lane, once the home of Captain Joseph Arnold.

The name is an indication of the picturesque nature of Knottingley township in the pre-industrial period. The name is self explanatory. The route along Primrose Hill ran from central Aire Street via Primrose Vale and between the area known as the Bendles and Racca Green and thence along Racca Field Lane (Womersley Road) to the open fields. The route later became one of several lime routes linking the quarries to the south of the town with the staithes on the Aire bank and (after 1826) the canal side in the Bendles.

The town’s prison is first recorded in 1838 when the former debtors’ prison at Hill Top was leased by the then owner of the property, Dr. William Bywater, to the Select Vestry for the accommodation of vagrants and petty criminals placed in the custody of the Parish Constable, with serious offenders being detained in the House of Correction at Wakefield. In 1838 the lease of the town’s prison was surrendered and the prison transferred to the site of the former Wildbore manor house at the lower end of Hill Top, being located in part of the premises belonging to Samuel maw Long. From 1830 Long had undertaken limestone excavation on the adjacent site and by the following decade the quarrying had extended so close to the manor house that the Select Vestry were concerned for the safety of prisoners and custodians and called upon Long to erect a fence and wall not less than five feet high to ensure the safety of the prison site. So lucrative was the trade in limestone, however, that the owner took the decision to demolish the manor house in order to obtain access to the underlying limestone and in October 1842 the building ceased to be used as a prison.
It was then decided to seek the sanction of the Justices at Wentbridge to permit the construction of a purpose built prison in the township. The proposal was, however, abandoned shortly thereafter and an agreement was reached for the lease of premises forming part of the former Ingram manor house, Hill Top, and this site was utilised until April 1857.
By the 1860s the enforcement of law and order was undertaken by the County Police Force and in the following decade a police station was established at the residence of the local constable in Aire Street. In 1896 the recently constituted West Riding County Council erected a police station at Weeland Road and this building continued to serve the town until its closure in 2006.

As a developing inland port Knottingley had a number of inns from an early date although formal records only exist from the mid eighteenth century. The passing of the Beer Act (Wellington Act) of 1830 added to the number of outlets by facilitating the opening of numerous beerhouses, many of which subsequently closed but others thrived and ultimately acquired the status of fully licensed premises (e.g Anvil Inn, Bee Hive Inn, Potters Arms).
For more details about the town's public houses see our Gazetteer of Knottingley Pubs and Breweries circa 1750-1998.

Like Mirey Butt, the name indicates a parcel of land on poorly drained soil and the soft, sticky nature of the surrounding soil which gave rise to the fanciful name. The site was on the boundary of the South Field, as the term ‘Bank’ indicates. Named as ‘Pudden Bank’ in the Enclosure Award Schedule, being an enclosure about an acre in extent, its somewhat irregular shape and location indicating it as an intake from the surrounding wasteland.

Lying next to Pudding Bank this close was a rectangular enclosure two acres in extent.

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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