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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


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


  1. An outline history of the Town Hall by the writer appeared in the Pontefract & Castleford Express 17-11-1977 and was reproduced in Taylor K. (ed) ‘Wakefield & District Heritage’, Volume II, (1979), pp24-25
  2. Pontefract Advertiser 9-11-1864, and repeated in the two following issues.
  3. Blanchard D. (ed) ‘Knottingley: Its Origins & Industries’, Volume I, (1976), pp24-35 for details of Woolf and the Knottingley-Ferrybridge potteries.
  4. Spencer T. ‘Knottingley Select Vestry ‘Riots’, 1874’, in ‘Aspects of Local History’ (forthcoming)
  5. Pontefract Advertiser 12-11-1864
  6. Knottingley Select Vestry Minute Books 1840-81, passim
  7. Pontefract Advertiser 11-3-1865
  8. The Mechanics’ Institute is shown occupying the site (No 333 on the Town Plan) in the township Rate Book 1859. The Rate Book 1857, has no mention of the Institute, merely referring to plot 333 as the site of the Swan Inn. Also, c.f. Pontefract Advertiser 31-12-1864
  9. Pontefract & Castleford Express 16-4-1904, p5
  10. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield. YF/365/393
  11. Pontefract Advertiser 1-4-1865
  12. Forrest C. ‘History of Knottingley’, (1871), p78
  13. Pontefract Advertiser 8-9-1865
  14. loc cit 15-9-1865
  15. Forrest, op cit p78
  16. The apex of the tower was removed circ 1950 when decreed structurally unsound.
  17. Pontefract Advertiser 15-9-1865
  18. Knottingley Select Vestry Minute Book ‘D’, p 94
  19. Pontefract Advertiser, issues 25-2-1865, 16-11-1867, 18-1-1868, 24-12-1869 and passim for examples of the use of the Town Hall for social purposes in the early years.
  20. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield. ZP/501/596
  21. loc cit, 369/27/18
  22. loc cit, 844/26/22 also Blanchard, op cit, p38
  23. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield. 14/269/135
  24. loc cit 51/101/52. I am indebted to Mr. C. Wilton, LL.B. of Hartley & Worstenholme, Solicitors, Pontefract, for his kind assistance concerning the Town hall Company mortgages.
  25. I am grateful to Mr. R. Gosney for making a copy of the 1869 Balance Sheet and Town Hall specifications available to me and to Mr. G. barker who recently discovered these documents and made them available, via Mr Gosney, for public scrutiny.
  26. Knottingley Select Vestry Minute Book ‘D’, p 123
  27. loc cit p126
  28. The approval of the Local Poor Law Board was required as such facilities were paid for from the Poor Law Rate. 24th/25th Vict, cap 125
  29. Knottingley Select Vestry Minute Book ‘D’, p129
  30. Pontefract Advertiser 20-11-1869
  31. It was also implied that the trays of food for consumption at the opening soiree had been subject to sale although donated. As Worfolk was closely involved in this matter he was the obvious target for the implication of corruption.
  32. Pontefract Advertiser 4-12-1869
  33. ibid for reference to libel writ issued to John Howard.
  34. Knottingley Select Vestry Minute Book ‘D’, p146
  35. loc cit p200
  36. ibid & p204 and passim
  37. loc cit p259
  38. loc cit p256
  39. J.G. Lyon lived at Carleton Close, Pontefract, but was a Knottingley manufacturer. Lyon made generous donations to various social and educational organisations c.f. Pontefract & Castleford Express 23-3-1901, p7
  40. ibid
  41. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield 51/10/52
  42. Pontefract & Castleford Express 3-8-1901, p5
  43. loc cit 30-3-1901, p8 & Pontefract Advertiser of same date, p5
  44. Pontefract & Castleford Express 3-8-1901, p5
  45. Pontefract Advertiser 18-1-1902. Lyon was absolutely correct in his observations regarding local politics. At one local election a naïve citizen was duped by his contemporaries to stand for the Council, declaring his intention if elected, to supply gas and water via the same piping system. The public were not hoodwinked, however, and at the poll the candidate received a single vote, presumably his own. I am indebted to the late Mr W. Hobman for this information given during an interview about 25 years ago.
  46. loc cit, 4-5-1901, p4 and passim. A writ of Fi[eri] Fa[cias] was issued to enable a sheriff to execute a legal judgement, in this case seizure of K.U.D.C.’s goods and properties. I am grateful to Mr C. Wilton LL.B. for explaining this point to me.
  47. Pontefract Advertiser 29-3-1902
  48. loc cit 13-6-1903. The write recalls that throughout his boyhood and youth there was a long standing expevtation within the town that the Council would provide public baths, an expectation which was not fulfilled until the building of Knottingley Sports Centre in the 1960’s.
  49. loc cit 27-6-1903
  50. loc cit 30-7-1904. The refurbishment of the Council Chamber included the Chairman’s seat on a raised dais at the east end, together with a long table running the length of the room for the members of the Council and facilities for news reporters. The now defunct chamber maintains the same layout today.
  51. I am indebted to Mr. E. Beckett, Treasurer, Knottingley Town Hall Management Committee for providing access to the Town Hall and for permission to photograph the interior of the building and the commemorative shield.
  52. I am grateful to Mr. E. Beckett for drawing my attention to the ‘Report of the Reopening of the Knottingley Town Hall, 1904’, upon which I have drawn for this section of the essay and also to Mr. R. Gosney for making a copy available for my use.
  53. Pontefract Advertiser 11-6-1904
  54. K.U.D.C. minute Book, 1927-29 (n.p.) 29-6-1927 & 30-7-1927
  55. loc cit Special Council Meeting 16-8-1927
  56. loc cit 28-9-1927
  57. loc cit 26-10-1927
  58. loc cit 13-12-1927 & 30-5-1928
  59. loc cit 29-2-1928 & 30-5-1928. Forrest, op cit p78, for reference to public baths in Town Hall basement.
  60. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1924-27 (n.p.) 24-2-1925 & 31-3-1925 & 3-12-1925 & 19-1-1926
  61. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1927-29 (n.p.) 30-11-27
  62. loc cit 25-11-1926
  63. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1924-27 (n.p.) 5-8-26 & 25-8-26
  64. For details concerning Knottingley Select Vestry and issues of local health c.f. Spencer T. ‘The Governance of Nineteenth Century Knottingley’ (forthcoming)
  65. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1931-33 (n.p.) 26-7-1932. It was a proud boast within Knottingley that the inhabitants raised more money for the hospital, per capita, than any other neighbouring towns including Pontefract.
  66. K.U.D.C. Minute Books, passim
  67. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1931-33 (n.p.) 27-9-1932
  68. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1927-29 (n.p.) 30-5-1928 & 26-9-1928 and passim
  69. For details of film shows in the Town Hall c.f. Spencer T. ‘The Palace Cinema Knottingley’, (1999) pp3-5
  70. For references to the concerts of the ‘K’ Sisters and other items concerning the Tpwn Hall c.f. Spencer T. ‘Aspects of Local History’ (forthcoming)
  71. ibid re Vestry ‘Riots’ 1874
  72. Pontefract & Castleford Express, Second Section, 10-12-1981, p14. The article by R.D. Woodall, outlined the action of Josephine Butler and her followers disrupting the political meetings of the Rgt Hon. Hugh Childers, the local Liberal M.P. at a by election following his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Childers was a supporter of the Contagious Diseases Act of 1864, 66 & 68 which in an effort to curb venereal disease in garrison towns (such as Pontefract) decreed compulsory medical examination and hospitalisation of women suspected of prostitution. Butler and her adherents rightly claimed that the Acts belittled women, making the Police judges of public morality and were therefore open to abuse and brutality, whilst exempting men who were equally as capable of spreading the contagion.
  73. loc cit 19-1-1951, p16
  74. K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1931-33 (n.p.) 22-3-1932
  75. K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1929-31 (n.p.) 7-10-1931
  76. For details of War Savings Weeks and also ‘Knottingley’s Warship – H.M.S. Kennet’ c.f. Spencer T. ‘Aspects of Local History’ (forthcoming)
  77. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1927-29 (n.p.) 30-11-1927
  78. The Broomhill estate, established in the late 1920’s and the England Lane estate, begun a few years later, were greatly extended by the post war housing development of the 1950s and this was followed by the construction of the Simpsons Lane/Warwick estate from the late 1950s and during the following decade.
  79. W.Y.A.S. Wakefield. W.M.D.C. Minutes 1974-5, p637
  80. ibid p305
  81. ibid pp751-52
  82. The Rev. J.S. Pearson, Vicar of Knottingley at that time, was a worthy successor to an earlier incumbent,Rev. F.E. Egerton, who was at the forefront of public life within the township during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Pearson was the driving force in the establishment of the local Civic Society and the two books of essays on local; history produced under the aegis of that body and served in a prominent way on a number of committees of local groups and organisations.
  83. Pontefract & Castleford Express 22-1-1971, p3
  84. ibid
  85. loc cit 29-1-1976, p21
  86. loc cit 12-2-1976, p3
  87. loc cit 5-2-1976, p14
  88. loc cit 5-2-1976, p30. The late John Hargrave was Deputy Editor of the Pontefract & Castleford Express and had a deep love of Knottingley, his family being seafarers within the town. In addition, Hargrave was one who in matters of heritage conservation was well in advance of present day public attitudes to such issues. For tributes to Hargraves c.f. loc cit 7-10-1982
  89. loc cit 5-2-1976, p30
  90. loc cit 4-3-1976, p16
  91. loc cit 19-2-1976, p13
  92. loc cit 18-3-1976, p21
  93. loc cit 1-4-1976, p1
  94. The first Trustees were Messrs R. Knapton, T. Spencer and D. Hayton. The Secretary was Mrs G. Ward and Treasurer Mrs J. Reeves. Unfortunately, the papers for the period pre-1985 have been destroyed but in that year the Trustees were Louis Bedford, Arthur Gill and Geoffrey Goalby. Around 1977, new Trustees were appointed and are named as Rev. Hugh Morcliffe Lawrance, David Lethbridge Mylor and Jane Patricia Jessie Crossling. The current Trustees are Edwin Beckett, William Sarvent and Heather Hoaksey. Mr. Arthur Gill is a honorary Trustee. I am grateful to Mr. R. Knapton, Mr. E. Beckett and Mr. G. Wilson, W.M.D.C. Legal Services Dept., for information regarding the Town Hall Trustees.
  95. Pontefract & Castleford Express 11-11-1976, p6
  96. loc cit 18-11-1982, p3
  97. loc cit 25-4-1985, p13
  98. loc cit 2-5-1985, p25
  99. loc cit 18-4-1985, p1 & p12
  100. loc cit 2-5-1985, p10
  101. loc cit 8-5-1986, p 2
  102. loc cit 25-4-1985, p13 & ibid 7-4-1994, p12. Letters from Mrs Joyce Bell.
  103. loc cit 29-4-1976, p4
  104. Pontefract Advertiser 16-4-1904, p5
  105. Pontefract & Castleford Express 31-1-1980, p10
  106. loc cit 17-10-1991, pp1 & 3
  107. loc cit 27-2-1992, p11 & ibid 7-4-1994, p12
  108. loc cit 24-10-1991, p3
  109. loc cit 27-2-1992, p11 & ibid 12-3-1992 p7 in which the following people were listed as members of the Committee. Chair Mrs Valerie Smith, Secretary Mrs Molly Wood, Treasurer Mr. Arthur Gill, Members Mesdames Joan Gill, Sandra Westwoood, Margaret Hamilton, Maureen Limbert, Messrs George Ward, John Hargrave, Paul Lunt, Steven Lunt, William Sarvent, Jack Stanworth, Edwin Beckett. Two additional ‘Helpers’ were named as Mrs Joyce Reeves and Ann Holland. A photograph of ten unnamed volunteers appeared in the Express 25-4-1996, p5
  110. loc cit 7-5-1992, p13
  111. loc cit 5-11-1992, p20 and ibid 3-12-1993, p3
  112. loc cit 26-11-1992, p12..8
  113. loc cit 4-4-1996, p3
  114. loc cit 25-4-1996, p5
  115. loc cit 18-4-1996, p6, also 25-4-1996, p16, for letter from Mrs J. Norton condemning the attitude of the Council and appealing for help from local businesses. For details concerning the ‘Greenhouse’ c.f. Spencer T. ‘Knottingley Playing Fields’
  116. Pontefract & Castleford Express 20-6-1996, p32
  117. loc cit 27-6-1996, p10 & ibid 26-9-1996, p3
  118. loc cit 25-7-1996, p11 & ibid 9-1-1997, p13
  119. The local M.P., Ms. Yvette Cooper, stressing the benefits of the grant noted, en passant, that lottery funding in her constituency was only a little over half the national average. loc cit, 21-1-1999, p3
  120. loc cit 3-6-1999, p8
  121. loc cit 2-6-1994, p1



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