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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 |

Too numerous to list (eg Quarry Pieces, Closes, Flatts, Holes etc), indicating the extent of the extractive limestone industry which is recorded as early as the thirteenth century but began to pick up pace in the seventeenth, was widespread in the eighteenth century when the bulk of the stone in the town’s central area was extracted, and reached its apogee in the nineteenth century with large and small workings to the south side of the town, and declined to a state of non-existence during last century.
Used in the preparation of leather, plaster, building, road making, glass and as an agricultural fertiliser, lime was a valuable commodity which although consuming a large amount of fuel was relatively easy to produce.
As wood became scarcer and therefore more expensive for use as fuel, the limestone industry was one of the first to adapt to coal, particularly by the mid nineteenth century when the construction of the Aire & Calder canal and the development of local coal measures facilitated ease of supply and transport.
By the eighteenth century the purchase of land with underlying limestone strata by a group of wealthy local businessmen resulted in an increase of enclosed areas within the common fields and promoted the movement for general enclosure of the town fields at the end of that century.
The quarries, a source of considerable wealth to a coterie of local lime merchants whilst providing a livelihood for labouring men, have in effect robbed the town of much physical evidence concerning its past history.

Standing in a semi-isolated location at the bottom of the east side of the long defunct and partially in-filled Jacksons’ Quarry, this limestone built house was probably erected originally for use by a ‘watcher’ whose task was to undertake observation of the slow burning lime clamps during the hours when the site was non operational.
The property was purchased by Bagley & Co., Ltd., after the quarrying ceased and part of the site was used for tipping ashes and factory waste. During the fuel crisis which occurred in the severe winter of 1947, dozens of locals picked cinders from the tips, some to burn as fuel, others to sell for profit.
Between the mid 1930s and 1960s the cottage was tenanted by the Tucker family and continues to remain inhabited at this time.

An imposing, detached house standing at the lower end of Hill Top and once the residence of J.S. Bentley, auctioneer and valuer, prominent in the administrative affairs of the township in the nineteenth century. The house has no particular historical significance beyond the Bentley family connection but because its deep foundations necessitated its being supported on a series of arches in order to save construction costs, the resultant ‘tunnels’ gave rise to the myth of a subterranean passage connecting with Pontefract Castle, a romantic fiction with no basis in fact.

First listed in 1368 the name is derived from a wild apple tree situated within the area known as the Racca and forming a characteristic landmark as well as serving a useful function by providing crab apples for wine and animal food.

The Racca Field was a furlong lying within the East Field and occupying the area lying approximately between the south side of Weeland Road and the railway crossing at Womersley Road and to the east as far as the footpath between the Broomhill and Springfields estates. Sub divisions of the Racca Field have resulted in a plethora of associated strip names (eg High / Low / Middle / Long / Short / Near / Far Racca / Racca Crabtree / Racca Field Close, etc., etc.,) The road known as Womersley Road was originally named Racca Field Lane, a name retained until the late nineteenth century and formed the boundary line between the Middle Field and the East Field. The land to the east of Racca Field Lane, lying beyond Broomhill was known as Upper Racca.

A site of secondary settlement adjacent to the Racca Field and Spring Field to the south and Bendles Field to the west. The origin of the name ‘Racca’ is uncertain and several theories have been advanced as probable explanations, including the presence in the vicinity of racks for the drying and stretching of newly manufactured cloth. The most probable explanation, however, is that the name derives from the ancient dialect work ‘rack’ (derived from the racking gait of oxen and horses) for a lane or path described as a ‘rackerway’. Such a one lay to the south of Cow Lane and was the nucleus of Racca Green, and also the basis of the name of Racca Field (i.e. locations identified by proximity to the rackerway known as Racca Field Lane)
While an expanding settlement from its early beginnings, Racca Green retained a largely rural appearance and although as early as the 1830s it was proposed to fill in the Pinders Pond and make a road through the Green it was not until the closing decades of the nineteenth century that it was the subject of urban development with a metalled road cutting through the centre with houses and shops augmenting and eventually outnumbering the more ancient dwellings and features such as Pinders House, Pinders Pond and small farmsteads.

A large detached house standing at the top end of Racca Green. The residence of the Twaite family for over a century. In the second half of the last century the hipped roof was removed and the building was put to commercial use before bring renovated and converted as flats.

Two enclosures named respectively as Upper and Lower Raddings lying between Banks Garth and Spawd Bone Lane. The name may be derived from either or both of two elements of the Old Norse language indicating land in a nook or corner and land cleared by assart, both being applicable to a site close to a previous boundary of the common field system at Spawd Bone Lane. The land formed part of the manorial holdings belonging to David Poole, and was then owned by William Moorhouse before passing to William Jackson. The Upper Raddings, a little in excess of 8 acres, was bisected by the railway line constructed in the late 1840s. The Lower Raddings, slightly more than two acres, had a series of randomly placed buildings including a more substantial ‘L’ shaped structure erected on site sometime between 1842 and 1852, suggesting that a dwelling and homestead had been established by that time. By the late nineteenth century a second ‘L’ shaped structure had been added to the original one to form an imposing but unnamed dwelling house which may be the one referred to in the 1881 census return as ‘Bentley’s House’.
At some unknown later date the premises were sub-divided and now form two separate dwellings.

Named for the proximity of the land to the fence which stood on top of the rampart enclosing Cridling Park which abutted part of the boundary of the East Field.

By the mid nineteenth century Knottingley Station, situated to the south of Hill Top on the edge of the former Waithwaite Field, was an important railway junction serving all parts of the country. The carriages of the Leeds and the York trains were linked here to form the London train in the 1860s but the importance of the towns rail link was somewhat diminished from thereafter as new routes were developed which bypassed the town. The station remained a quite substantial centre, however, with numerous platforms, buildings and public facilities, including a W.H. Smith’s newspaper and bookstall, and a large freight yard, until well into the following century. The resultant passenger traffic supported trade fro the three hotels in the vicinity of the station: The Commercial Hotel (1838), The Royal Albert Hotel (1840 – later renamed as the Railway Hotel) and the Lancashire & Yorkshire Hotel (1864).
In 1901 an approach to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Co., by the Urban District Council seeking the erection of a second railway station at the east end of the town was rejected by the Company which claimed it was owed money by the Council and although by the mid 1950s hope still remained that a sub-station might be constructed at the Depot Field, the plan never materialised.
The infamous Beeching review of the 1960s resulted in the severe curtailment of passenger services, presaging the demolition of Knottingley Station and reduction of its status to the present unmanned role of today.

Known colloquially as ‘the ramper’ to later generations, the Rampart was the balk or rein which surrounded the Cridling (deer) Park which marked part of the eastern boundary of the great East Field of the manor of Knottingley. In common with the King’s Standard, the Rampart has been the subject of much speculation by later generations of local inhabitants, the most common regarding the name as an indication of an iron age or other prehistoric fortification.

Part of the original arable land of the manorial vill, occupying the site between the Flatts and Marsh End later known as Pickhill Garth, the Rawcroft, also referred to as Rowcroft, was retained as Crown land in the post feudal era and was a centre for the building and repair of vessels as well as providing wharfage for the transhipment of goods and materials to and from the adjacent King’s Storehouse.

One of a pair of brick built nineteenth century dwelling houses so named because the brickwork was originally painted red. Situated at Marsh End next to Ocean Terrace. The house was the last residence of H.T.B. Worfolk, formerly of Skew Bridge House, the town’s Registrar of births and deaths in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century. Following Worfolk’s death in 1920 the house had a number of occupants and at one period was the home of successive commanders of the local Salvation Army Corps.

The strip land characteristic of the open field system of agriculture was rendered accessible by earthen balks between the cultivated furlongs, hence the name Ridgeway. The name is of great antiquity being based on the Old English ‘hrycg’ or the Norse ‘hryggr’. As with the wider headlands, there were innumerable ridgeways within the area of the manor but in common with the road known as the Headlands today it is the Ridgeway running off Spawd Bone Lane which alone perpetuates the former name.

A detached property standing close to the junction of Sunny Bank and Cow Lane which between the 1830s and 1971 was a public house established by the roper, Samuel Atkinson, and named as the Roper’s Arms. The premises were subsequently converted into flats.

The name is a reminder of the fact that at one time there was no less than six locations in Knottingley which were associated with the manufacture of ropes. The absence of any detail other than the name of the site prevents positive identification of proprietorship. However, the Enclosure Award Schedule refers to a Ropery owned by John Thompson near Tenters Balk and although not featured in the Tithe Appointment of 1842, a conveyance of 1864 refers to “a private road, formerly a ropewalk” lying south of Cock Garth and this suggests that a Ropewalk occupied the site at an early date in the towns maritime history.
Connecting Weeland Road with Primrose Hill, a Census entry of 1841 refers to Ropery Walk as a residential site, a fact which reinforces the probability of the ropewalk’s existence and demise at a period before the nineteenth century. The fact that the Ropewalk is perpetuated by the definite article may be an indication that the ropery was the first of its kind within the town.
The Ropewalk was restricted to pedestrian use until well into the twentieth century.

Members of the Methodist religion were recorded within the town in 1784 and by 1788 were using Dame Gawthorpe’s cottage on Low Green as a meeting place. The first chapel was erected in 1799 in Gaggs Yard, off Aire Street, but with seating for only 150 it proved too small and in 1816 a new 380 seat chapel was built on Primrose Hill. The chapel was partially demolished and extended in 1834 and again in 1839. Such was the popularity of Methodism that in December 1844 a plot of land in Tenters Balk (Ropewalk) was purchased and the following year John Carter laid the foundation stone of a new chapel which was opened in June 1846. Before April 1844, when a clock was installed in the tower of St. Botolph’s Church, the sole public building in Knottingley to have a public clock was the Ropewalk Methodist Chapel.
Early in the twentieth century a Sunday School was built adjacent to the chapel but following the decline in religious observation following the Second World War, the chapel was demolished in 1977 and the adjacent schoolroom adapted to serve as the place of worship. The chapel has a graveyard containing memorials to several former mariners and local dignitaries.

Crofts or closes were small enclosures for tillage or pasture. Rothery’s Croft was a small area situated near the junction of the Croft and Cow Lane which whilst probably of ancient origin takes its name from the Rothery family, professional gardeners, who were resident at Cow Lane by the late eighteenth century.

A one acre site adjacent to Ferrybridge Potteries which may be an alternative name for the land belonging to the township known as the Swineholes.

Identified as early as 1368, the name of this parcel of land is derived from the Old English ‘ruh’ = rough / ‘storo’ = plantation and is therefore rough land close to a plantation. The name had changed by the time of the Enclosure Award in the late eighteenth century and its disappearance prevents identification of its location but it may be the Swineholes site also known as Rough, which may be an abbreviation of Roughstorth.

Neither round nor an acre, this three acre plus field was in fact square shaped being formed from former peasant strips within the Middle Field close to Waterfield Hill, near Middle Lane.

The name derives from the beehive shaped ‘pot’ furnace which characterised the bottle house which feature in the engravings showing glass manufacture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Round House was of later origin, however, being established on a site at Low (Fernley) Green, adjacent to the canal bank, in February 1874 when a partnership of three glassblowers and a blacksmith began to manufacture flint glass containers. The site is now occupied by a modern glassworks known since the late nineteenth century as the Hope Glassworks and still associated in the public mind with the Gregg family who were the proprietors during most of last century.
The Round House was also the name given to one of the Warren Hill mills following its conversion as a dwelling house.

From the Old English ‘rod’ meaning a clearing in a woodland, the name of the two sites known as Low and High Roydes, is an indication of the process of assarting which took place on the fringes of the open fields in the early Middle Ages. In this case the clearance was to extend the area of the East Field, a fact confirmed by the adjacency of Stocking Lane which provided access to the Roydes which lay to the south between Weeland Road and South Moor Lane at Kemp Bank.

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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