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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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
PALACE CINEMA The
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.
PARISH ROOMS The
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.
PARK BALK FARM
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
PARK GATE / BALK / BOTTOM
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.
PEAR TREE COTTAGE
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.
PICKLING TANK The
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.
PINDERS POND & PINFOLD
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
PITTAGE UPPER / LOWER
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.
PLOUGH SHOTT FLATT / CLOSE
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
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.
POLICE STATION The
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
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.
POST OFFICE / YARD
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.
PRIMROSE VALE / HILL
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
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
PUBLIC HOUSES The
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
PUDDING BANK CLOSE
Lying next to Pudding Bank this close was a rectangular enclosure two
acres in extent.
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