Knottingley and Ferrybridge Online West Yorkshire
 
 
 
Amazon Advertisements
 
Also by Terry Spencer

The following studies by Terry Spencer are now available on the Knottingley website:

KNOTTINGLEY CARNIVAL
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.

KNOTTLA FLATTS:
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.

KNOTTLA FEAST:
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.

HOSPITAL SUNDAYS:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY COAT-OF-ARMS:
The application by Knottingley Urban District Council for a grant of arms was made to the College of Arms, London, in mid 1942.

FERRYBRIDGE GLASSWORKS:
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.

NINETEENTH CENTURY KNOTTINGLEY:
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

KNOTTINGLEY PLAYING FIELDS:
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.

CAPTAIN PERCY BENTLEY:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY WAR MEMORIAL:
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.

FERRYBRIDGE WAR MEMORIAL:
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.

THE 'K' SISTERS:
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 PALACE CINEMA:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY PUBLIC HOUSES & BREWERIES:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY TOWN HALL CLOCK:
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.

STATUE OF THE BLACK PRINCE:
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.

KNOTTLA NICKNAMES:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY SILVER BAND:
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.

KNOTTINGLEY TOWN HALL:
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.

FIELD SYSTEMS AND PLACE NAMES OF OLD KNOTTINGLEY:
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.

GAZETTEER OF KNOTTINGLEY PLACE NAMES:
An A-Z listing of Knottingley field and place names.

LIME GROVE AND THE CARTER FAMILY
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.

WAR SAVINGS WEEKS:
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.

SELECT VESTRY RIOTS 1874:
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

KNOTTINGLEY TOWN HALL


by TERRY SPENCER B.A. (Hons), Ph D.

| PAGE ONE | PAGE TWO | PAGE THREE | NOTES |

In June 1903 it was proposed that the K.U.D.C. write to the Local Government Board to notify the Board of the Council’s possession of the hall and request it to sanction a long-term loan to meet the cost of improvement and decoration. (49) Once again, however, it was J.G. Lyon who came to the rescue, funding the refurbishment of the hall. The improvements also included reconstruction of the Council chamber by Messrs Hall & Armitage of Wakefield, the cost being partly met by the sale of the old furniture to the Local Education Authority at Wakefield. (50)

On the 11th April 1904, Members of the Council and other public dignitaries assembled in the Council Offices at Chapel Street before processing to the Town Hall. There, Mr. F.S. Bagley on behalf of the architects and contractors presented Mr. Lyon with a silver key with two gold shields attached and invited him to unlock the doors of the building. Following a prayer by the Vicar, Reverend F.E. Egerton, a public meeting was held, presided over by Cr. John Harker, J.P., Chairman of K.U.D.C., who announced that Mr. Lyon had that day donated a further cheque for £250 to cover the cost of the structural alterations to the building. Rising to declare the hall open, Mr. Lyon complimented the Council on the décor of the hall and the intention of the Council to make the building a public facility which, he declared, was what he had envisaged in presenting the building to the town.

Formal thanks were expressed by the Reverend Egerton and a commemorative tablet, affixed to the wall at the west end of the main room, was unveiled. The tablet in the form of a brass escutcheon mounted on wood bore the inscription: -

THIS TABLET
was erected by the
KNOTTINGLEY URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL
To commemorate the
GIFT OF THIS HALL TO THE COUNCIL
In the year 1902 by
J.G. LYON ESQ, J.P.
of the
AIRE TAR WORKS
KNOTTINGLEY

A vote of thanks to the Chairman was then proposed by Cr. John Jackson and seconded by Dr. Percival after which an inspection of the rooms was undertaken followed by the consumption of a cold collation partaken by the Councillors and their guests within the new Council Chamber on the ground floor of the building. Those present (some in a dual capacity) included: -

J.G.Lyon Esq. J.P., Mr. W.E. Clayton-Smith
Mr. H.L. Lyon, Mr. E.L. Poulson J.P.
Rev. S.J. Fowle B.A., Mr. F.S. Bagley
Mr. E.L. Robinson, Mr. R. Jackson

Members of the Council and Officials
Mr. John Harker, Chairman, Mr. Walter Swaine, Clerk
Rev. F.E. Egerton B.A., Mr. G.W. Hobman, Assistant Clerk
Mr. T. Worfolk, Dr. Percival, Medical Officer
Mr. J. Jackson, Mr. T.E. Ingle, Surveyor & Nuisance Inspector
Mr. S.B. Bagley

Members of the late School Board and Officials
Rev. F.E. Egerton B.A., Mr. G.W. Reynolds
Mr. H. Shaw, Mr. W. Branford, Deputy Clerk

Other Public Representatives and Officials
Rev. B. Hemsworth M.A., J.P., C.C., Rev. F.E. Egerton B.A., Guardian
Mr. John Harker, Overseer, Mr. C. Harris, Divisional Clerk
Mr. Walter Swaine, Asst’ Overseer , Mr. E.W. Hepworth, Postmaster

A series of toasts, punctuated by vocal and instrumental items followed and the event concluded with the singing of the National Anthem. (52) Thereafter, the Town Hall once again became the centre of the town’s social and administrative affairs and remained so for more than 60 years.

A further presentation occurred in June 1904 when representatives of the Council, including Walter Swaine, Town Clerk, attended Mr. Lyon at his place of business and presented him with a framed illuminated vote of thanks and an album of photographs of the Town Hall, together with a report of the proceedings concerning the opening ceremony earlier that year. (53)

By the 1920s the onset of post war economic depression resulted in trade recession and mass unemployment continuing into the following decade. It is therefore remarkable that the period was one marked by substantial public expenditure concerning the maintenance of the Town Hall.

In 1927, the Surveyor, Mr. Belford, was requested to draw up plans for the improvement of the façade of the building. Damage had occurred some nine months before when a vehicle belonging to Mr. G.J. Metcalf had crashed into the frontage and damaged the wall and railings. (54) Restoration was delayed by a dispute between the parties and also by the resignation of the Surveyor due to ill health. (55) As a result of the latter event, the improvement plan was held over and eventually revised by Belford’s successor, G.J. Laverick. (56) By October, however, an amended plan had been approved by the Council and the work put out to tender. The tenders received were three in number, viz: -

H & H Fairbairn           £33-9-4
G.F. Wright                £25-15-0
C. Tree                       £25-0-0

of which the lowest price was accepted. (57)

At the same meeting proposals were discussed for internal improvements, particularly with regard to the seating in the public room. Again, the Surveyor was asked to estimate the cost of redecorating, including treatment of the walls with damp-proof materials. The estimated cost for the work was assessed at £200-£300 (58) and at a Council meeting held on 26th September 1928 it was decided to place advertisements in the press on the 5th October inviting tenders; the redecoration to be commenced on the 15th of the month and completed during November. Also, in the Spring of 1928, the public library which had in recent times been housed in Weeland Road Board School, was transferred to the Town Hall, thus restoring it to its original location. (59)

As early as February 1925, the Surveyor had drawn up specifications for the installation of electric lighting utilising tube enclosed wiring circuits and advertisements had been placed in local and regional newspapers inviting tenders. It was not until late in the year, however, that the work commenced, including the installation of spotlights, footlights and a fan. (60) It is of passing interest to note that the old gas pendants and brackets were purchased by the local branch of the British Legion for ten shillings. (61) The improvements naturally added to the value of the property and consequently it was decided to increase the insurance on the fixtures and fittings by 50%. (62) A revision of hire charges for use of the hall was also introduced in August 1926. The new scale was set thus: -

Local Entertainments (concerts, bazaar etc..) £1-5-0 per night
Political Meetings or Elections £1-5-0 per night
Concerts & Entertainments (ex Town) £1-15-0 per night
Hall Used after 11.00p.m. 2s 6d per hour
Large Cloak Room 4s per hour
Small Cloak Room 2s per hour
Lime Lights 5s per hour
Election Purposes £3-0-0 per week
Parochial Elections 10s per day
Crockery used for Dances 2s 6d per day

At a subsequent meeting the charge for political meetings was doubled to £3-0-0 per night. (63)

Not all functions were, however, subject to a charge. In the days before the introduction of the National Health Service great emphasis was laid upon raising funds for the local and regional hospitals. As early as the mid nineteenth century Knottingley Select Vestry, the forerunner of the Urban District Council, had paid annual subscriptions to Pontefract Dispensary, Leeds Infirmary and Askern baths to enable attendance by the local inhabitants, so it was natural that with the establishment of the K.U.D.C. in the closing decade of that century the subscriptions to the two former institutions should be continued. (64) In addition to civic subscriptions, the larger local companies (Brewery, Glassworks and Chemical Works) also paid an annual subscription on behalf of their workforce, whilst public houses, commercial premises, societies and citizens, singly and in groups, were engaged all year round organising and supervising events such as sales of work, coffee evenings, whist drives, dances, concerts and numerous events designed to raise funds for the cause. The whole effort was marked by a carnival event known as Hospital (or Infirmary) Sunday. The event was usually al fresco but in the event of bad weather the Town Hall was held available as a reserve venue. (65) Such was the local reverence shown to the cause that the promoters of events designed to obtain hospital funds could apply for and be guaranteed free use of the Town Hall for the event. (66) In addition, from 1923 the Town Hall became the venue for an annual Charity Ball under the aegis of the Council to assist the hospitals. (67)

The huge loss of life during the Great War had engendered a psychosis within society both nationally and locally which was reinforced by the large number of disabled people returning from the war. As a mark of gratitude and social responsibility the Council granted the free use of the Town Hall to the Earl Haigh (Poppy) Fund four times a year in the immediate post war period. (68)

The social uses to which the Town Hall was put are so numerous and varied as to defy categorisation. Long before Knottingley had its purpose-built cinema (and for some years thereafter) the Town Hall was a venue for film shows (69) and there were regular visits by impressionists, illusionists, ‘rag and stick’ drama groups and reviews such as those of the pupils of Ropewalk School, produced by the headmaster, L.P. Luke, which ran for a week at a time each year. The concerts of the ‘K’ Sisters, talented local girls, who before becoming professional entertainers raised huge sums of money for local charities, are still affectionately remembered by the older inhabitants of the town. (70) Local and national celebrities have visited the building and on occasion have caused havoc by their presence. The hall was the scene of the infamous ‘Vestry Riots’ in 1874 (71) and only two years before a blow for womens’ rights had been struck there by Josephine Butler and her followers, thereby anticipating the Womens Liberation movement by more than a century. (72) One of the largest gatherings in the era since World War II took place in January 1951 when the hall was the venue for a ‘sit down’ tea and concert for 500 guests, provided by the Knottingley & Ferrybridge Old Folks’ Entertainment Committee. (73) Perhaps the most intriguing (non) event was the application from a Mr. F.C. Allen of Goole who, in 1932, sought to hire the hall for three days “at the very lowest price” as the venue for a circus. Naturally, the applicant was informed that the hall could not be granted for the proposed purpose. (74)

As the focal point of the town’s social and civic life the Town Hall literally became the standard bearer. It is therefore unsurprising to fin a list of occasions on which the Council decreed that the Union Flag should be raised above the building, viz: -

King’s Birthday
St. George’s Day
Knottingley Feast (Sat-Sun-Mon)
Armistice Day
Sunday after 1st Council Meeting of New Year
Death of a sitting Councillor (half-mast)
Death of an ex Councillor (half-mast) (75)

A further aspect of the role of the Town Hall in the context of fund raising and social cohesion was evident during the Second World War when dances, concerts, whist drives and exhibitions were regularly held to raise funds for the war effort. The building was also a central focus for the annual Savings Weeks with the amounts raised being declared twice daily from a specially constructed platform in front of the hall and recorded on a giant indicator affixed to the front of the building. (76) It is of passing interest to note that the concept of the indicator with its gradations and movable pointer had been first employed as early as 1927. In that year the Hon’ Sec’ of the local Infirmary Committee had applied for, and been granted, permission to fix a ‘barometer’ to the front of the Town Hall to show the public the accumulation of funds collected throughout the year. (77)

The period between the late 1950s and the early 1970s was marked by an influx of people from the mining districts of Scotland and the North East of England attracted by employment opportunities as Kellingley Colliery and new power stations were established in the neighbourhood of Knottingley. The new citizens had little or no knowledge of their adopted town or of the traditional attachment of the locals to their Town Hall. The emotional attachment was further eroded at this time by the wholesale demolition of the central area of the town as part of the redevelopment of Aire Street and its environs which resulted in the dispersal of the residents of the area to the council estates at the south side of the township. (78) In consequence of these developments the Town Hall became peripheral to the areas of demographic location. In addition, the post war era saw the introduction of newer and more sophisticated forms of entertainment whilst the general prosperity of the period and increased mobility arising from the private vehicle ownership this engendered eroded the public use of the hall. The functional decline was further emphasised in the late 1960s when the K.U.D.C. purchased and restructured a property at the lower end of Hill Top, known as ‘The Close’, to which the Council relocated, abandoning its former headquarters.

Following local government reorganisation early in the following decade the K.U.D.C. became defunct. The status of the expensively refurbished Council offices was downgraded while the Town Hall was neglected, being regarded as surplus to requirements.

In September 1974, the Chief Officer of the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council Recreation & Amenities Committee reported to the Indoor Services Sub-Committee on the subject of the Town Hall. The officer stated that there was an increase in demand for use of the hall and recently minor renovations had been undertaken. It was considered, however, that a revision of hire charges was appropriate and the Chief Officer was therefore authorised to formulate a new booking system and conditions of hire. (79) The underlying implication was that the maintenance costs of the Town Hall were not being met by incoming revenue. Despite the restructuring the hall remained economically unviable and by July 1975 a comprehensive survey of the hall was requested. (80)

Even whilst the survey and report were pending the Sub-Committee was in fact making contingency plans for the land and building to be appropriated by the W.M.D.C Planning Department. (81)

It was clear that the future of the Town Hall was in jeopardy if based solely on economic considerations. By early 1976 many organisations within the town had heard numerous rumours concerning possible action by the District Council and had begun to give vent to public expression of their doubts and fears. The situation was encapsulated by the Rev. J.S. Pearson, Vicar of Knottingley and spokesman for the Knottingley & Ferrybridge Community Council (82) who stated: -

“Everyone is worried about it and nobody can find out anything.” (83)

At Pearson’s instigation the Community Council decided to convene a public meeting to consider the formation of a steering committee with the aim of negotiating with the Council for handing over the management of the hall to a properly constituted committee in order to run the Town Hall as a community centre.

Meanwhile it was confirmed that the full Council had approved the release of all responsibility for the hall by the Recreation & Amenities Committee and that no more bookings of the hall were to be undertaken. (84)

The public meeting was fixed for the evening of the 12th February and the Community Council circularised all premises and organisations in the Knottingley – Ferrybridge district urging attendance and support. Cr. W. O’Brien, the local representative on the W.M.D.C., whilst pledging support, pointed out that all public places of assembly were feeling the pinch. O’Brien stated that there were not as many public events as formerly and that the workingmens’ clubs had increasingly usurped the community role previously served by buildings such as the Town Hall and cited the ongoing decline at the relatively new Kellingley Social Centre to emphasise his point. (85) Buoyed by support from organisations such as the Civic Society (86) and from individuals such as Mrs Joyce Bell who wrote to the local paper urging ‘Knottlaites’ to “Do something about it” (87), steps to save the Town Hall continued apace. In a powerful yet paradoxically, wistful and nostalgic article in the local Express newspaper the week before the public meeting, John Hargrave asked, “Doesn't Knottingley deserve a Town Hall?” (88)

Hargrave stated that any study concerning the future of the building should be based on criteria other than mere financial considerations and formulated four main points, viz: -

  • 1. Central location and extensive accommodation afforded
  • 2. Historical and architectural value
  • 3. Effect on environment by loss of a distinguished landmark
  • 4. Need for a communally used building belonging to the public with entry not subject to the dictates of any particular organisation or interest.

The article then outlined the historical development and social uses served by the building throughout past generations and the spirit of pride and affection engendered. In a rebuff to those who measured progress solely in economic terms Hargrave stated:-

“Perhaps it is of little account to draw attention to the Great Fix of Council Officials from the Town Hall to ‘The Close’ and the expense thereof, as now there has been an even greater Flit to Wakefield, with even greater expense. But it is significant that the move of one Council should have helped prepare a grave into which another could tumble this whole ‘elegant commodious edifice’.”

Stating that the Council would form their judgement to an extent by the number of people attending the proposed meeting, Hargrave also warned that the public might find they needed the Town Hall only after it was gone. (89)

The public meeting, held appropriately in the Town Hall on the evening of Thursday 12th February 1976, was attended by about 200 people representing local organisations and reflecting a cross section of community interest. Rev. J.S. Pearson, Chairman, stated that he had been informed that the Council had unsuccessfully attempted to get one of its constituent committees to take responsibility for the Town Hall which was regarded as underused and a drain on resources. Pearson therefore conjected imminent closure, vandalism and ultimately, demolition. Stating that the hall belonged to the people and should remain a community focal point, the Chairman asked for constructive ideas and invited representatives of attendant organisations to speak.

Ex Councillor Mary Nunns (W.R.V.S. & Darby & Joan Club) said closure would cast aside the welfare of 120 of the town’s old people. Terry Spencer (Civic Society) stated that the Society had envisaged a public meeting but were pre-empted by the Community Council. A letter he had written to the Chief Officer of the Recreation & Amenities Committee six weeks earlier still awaited acknowledgement. The Civic Society would support any attempt to save the hall. Mr. W. Hodgson (Silver Prize Band) pledged support. The Chairman then outlined possible alternative use of the hall by the Council citing its suitability as an art gallery and museum, asking why such displays should be confined to Wakefield when all paid rates to subsidise the arts. The fundamental question, however, was whether the people had sufficient faith and determination to set up a management committee to run the hall for the benefit of the local community. Cr. W. O’Brien had intimated that if there was a sign of support for such action the Council would consider proposals and while, unfortunately, the fire escape and boiler required attention, funds might be made available if a properly constituted committee was formed.

O’Brien was absent from the meeting but a fellow Councillor, George Penty, stated that cost was a factor. The hall could not justifiably be kept open on the strength of being used only a few hours per week. To loud applause he said he wished the Town Hall to remain open and suggested that a deputation be formed which he would ensure would be received by W.M.D.C representatives.

Cr. Albert Thorpe said that as the income from the Town Hall was nil, he and other local representatives had no basis for argument in Council. Mr. J. Joyce, a representative of the local Handicapped Club and a former councillor, said that owing to lack of facilities his members could not use the hall. The problem was therefore not lack of use but lack of financial support. Joyce urged comparison with other public buildings such as the quite recent modern Civic Centre at Castleford. Was it the intention of the W.M.D.C to close down that and other buildings if they were being run at a loss he asked and advocated the rapid formation of a local committee. In defiant tones delivered somewhat ironically in a Scottish accent, Cr. John Watt stated, “This hall belongs to the people of Knottingley. Nobody else. Keep out”.

Such was the fervour of the meeting in general that any expression of a dissident view would probably have provoked taunts of defeatism. Nevertheless, words of caution were voiced and appropriately so to ensure that mass enthusiasm should not override the harsh reality of the situation facing the prospective public ‘take over’ of the hall. Mr. John Shaw (Knottingley & Ferrybridge Old Peoples’ Entertainment Committee) whilst supportive, said that there had been a lot of ‘whitewash’ concerning the hall and warned that a lot of money required to be spent on fire precautions and other work before the hall could be used to raise money by functions.

Mrs L. Bell questioned the extent to which the local population were truly interested. Stressing the hard work facing any voluntary body she spoke of the degree of apathy faced by leaders of the Scout movement and other local youth organisations. Indeed, a letter in the Express the following week under the nom de plume ‘Ex Streeter’ echoed the same cautious sentiments, pointing out that the effect of urban development had made the Town Hall “something of a white elephant” and stating that the preponderant element of the local population consisted of non-natives for whom the fate of the Town Hall was of no concern. (90)

Pointing out the realistic nature of such views, the Chairman then asked for volunteers to form a steering committee to examine the questions of finance and management, as a token of proof to the Council that the townspeople wished to do something.

Twenty names were quickly subscribed and a proposal made that a letter be sent out requesting donations. The suggestion prompted further ideas such as voluntary collections and other forms of sponsorship, including a suggestion from Mrs. P. Blackburn, Head of the local centre for further education, that the hall be sub-letted for classes thereby obtaining regular income. (91) Affiliation with the L.E.A. never came to fruition and, as will be seen, the principle of sub-letting when later applied in conjunction with small businesses, created considerable problems.

A committee was formed and maid rumours that the Council was seeking to sell the hall for commercial purposes, or worse, to be demolish it to enable the site to be redeveloped, the committee met Council representatives on Tuesday 16th March 1976, and agreed to make formal application to the Recreation & Amenities Committee to take over management of the hall. (92)

By the following month the group had become consolidated as a Management Committee with Mr Rowland Knapton as Chairman, and its remit ; to attempt to run the hall without financial loss for a trial period of one year, sanctioned by the W.M.D.C. (93) Shortly thereafter the Town Hall Community Centre became an officially registered charity under the nominal control of three trustees. (94) The Trustees, on behalf of the Committee, signed a formal agreement with the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council whereby the former assumed responsibility for the administration of the Town Hall together with maintenance of the interior, whilst the Local Authority retained ownership and responsibility for external appearance.

Through voluntary effort, the Committee organised a series of fund-raising events to generate desperately needed income to facilitate repairs and encourage use of the Town Hall for community activities. The volunteers took bookings, cleaned, undertook repairs, installed a bar and obtained a drinks licence, kept the accounts and served in any and every way that was deemed necessary to ensure the future viability of the hall and be beneficial to those who supported the venture. Local organisations were encouraged to use the hall as a base for their meetings and activities. In this respect the role of Knottingley Silver Band was exemplary. The Band rented space within the Town Hall to use as a band room, thereby providing the Committee with regular income, and generously produced, free of all cost to the Committee, a series of concerts to raise funds by public subscription. A further source of income came from public support of the weekly bingo session which proved so popular that the activity was soon extended to two sessions a week to meet public demand.

The Committee, which started out with only £16-86, was able to report at its A.G.M. six months later, a balance of over £2,000 of which £1,022-49 remained after expenses. However, as Mrs Mary Nunns remarked after the meeting, despite the adoption of a new constitution no-one knew what the Council’s criteria was for judging the success or failure of the venture and it was quite possible that by the following March the hall could be closed. (95)

Despite the generous support of the public and the unstinting labour of the Committee and associate volunteers, led by Rowland Knapton, whose business expertise and social contacts were invaluable at that time, the venture was always constrained by lack of funds. The acquired status of an officially registered charity provided tax concessions and ensured receipt of a discretionary grant from the Local Authority amounting to 50% of administrative costs but more money was needed.

[Continued on Page 3>]


| PAGE ONE | PAGE TWO | PAGE THREE | NOTES |


 

Site constructed and maintained by Michael Norfolk
This website is Copyright © 2000-2011 [Knottingley and Ferrybridge Online] All Rights Reserved
| HOME PAGE | SITE INDEX | LETTERS | MEMORIES | PHOTO GALLERY | GENEALOGY | LATEST PHOTOS |
| YORKSHIRE ANCESTRY | PONTEFRACT WEBSITE | IMAGES OF YORKSHIRE | OO GAUGE GARDEN RAILWAY | CONISBROUGH WEATHER STATION |