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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

circa. 1750 – 1998

by TERRY SPENCER B.A.(Hons), Ph D. (1998)


With the completion of our study relating the history of Knottingley Public Houses and Breweries c.1750-1998, it remains only for a gazetteer of the various pubs during that period.

ADMIRAL NELSON INN – Aire Street, opposite west end of Flatts
This Inn was presumably of eighteenth century origin and although the name indicates that it was still in existence in the closing decades of that century, it must have closed early in the following century for it does not feature in the lists of the 1820s. A deed of sale dated May 1852 refers to a printing house and a cottage which "stand on the site of a former public house, the Admiral Nelson", suggesting that by that date the inn had either been demolished or converted into the form described above. The exact location of the inn was known to later generations of citizens as Post Office Yard.

AIRE STREET HOTEL – Aire Street, west end of Flatts
First Recorded licensee was William Holmes in 1857. Referred to Compensation Authority on the 5th March 1938. Licence renewal refused and premises closed.

ANCHOR INN – Aire Street, opposite middle of Flatts
First Recorded licensee was John Whittenstall in 1822. The premises closed and its licence was transferred to the Lamb Inn, Knottingley on 5-3-1904. Property sold January 1909.

ANVIL INN – Bank’s Lane, near Jackson Bridge
First recorded licensee was John Fell in 1857 at which time it was described as a beerhouse and blacksmith’ shop under the ownership of Mrs Jane Jackson.

BAY HORSE INN – Hill Top, opposite Forge Hill Lane
Date of first tenancy uncertain but believed to have been John Austwick pre 1822.

BEE HIVE INN – Low (Fernley) Green, opposite Hope Glassworks.
First recorded licensee was John Canby in 1841. The premises were closed and sold in 1926.

BLUE BELL INN – Back Lane (Croft)
c.f Royal Oak, Ship & Punch Bowl, Oak & Standard.
First Recorded licensee was Benjamin Branford in 1820.

BOAT INN – Sunnybank, Canalside, near to Shepherds Bridge.
First recorded licensee was John Hargrave in 1865. A Provisional Ordinary Removal Licence was granted to Ernest Philpott on the 21st September 1965, in respect of new premises to be named Hill Top Hotel. The transfer of the O.R.L. to Geoffrey Frank Roberts on 6th February 1968 was followed by notification by Whitbread p.l.c. on 1st February 1977 that the removal licence was no longer required and it was therefore not renewed. The premises were closed and subsequently demolished.

BUCK INN – Aire Street, opposite east end of Flatts.
First recorded licensee was Ann Pickering in 1822. The premises closed on 30th September 1972 and purchased by a Compulsory Purchase Order issued by Knottingley Urban District Council on 15th October 1972. Licence suspended on 1sy January 1973.

CHERRY TREE INN – Marsh End at junction of Aire Street and Cow Lane.
First recorded licensee is not known but the inn was mentioned in a document dated 2nd November 1807 when it was described "with cottage and barber’s shop". John Brown was the recorded tenant in a document dated 25th March 1809.
A Provisional Ordinary Licence was granted to Ernest Philpott on 28th September 1963, in respect of new premises to be constructed on existing and enlarged site. Final Order in respect of modified plans concerning the proposed development 15th December 1964.

COMMERCIAL HOTEL – Hill Top, opposite Station Road.
First recorded licensee was Robert Jackson in 1838. The Hotel ceased to trade on 13th September 1971 and was later demolished.

COMMERCIAL INN – Bendles, Racca Green End. c.f. Steam Packet.
First recorded licensee was John Hill in 1838 when the Inn was described as "a Packet House & Coach Proprietor."
After a temporary closure, the inn was reopened and renamed as the Steam Packet on 14th August 1986. On site brewing recommenced.

DOG INN (DOG & GUN INN) – Part of Wildbore Manor House, junction of Hill Top & Chapel Street.
First recorded licensee was Mark Hepworth in 1822. The inn was presumably closed circa. 1843, following the bankruptcy of Samuel Maw Long, owner of the Old Hall (Manor House). The property was demolished in 1844.

DUKE OF YORK INN – The Holes, near the Mill Bridge.
First recorded licensee was William Smithson in 1822. The question of licence renewal was referred to the Compensation Authority on 5th March 1968 and renewed provisionally. Further renewal was refused on 29th May 1968. Compensation authority agreed payment on 3rd August 1968 and the premises closed and were subsequently demolished.

EARNSHAW’S HOTEL – Top of Station Road at junction with Pontefract Road.
c.f. Royal Albert Hotel & Railway Hotel
Built in the late 1840s by William Moorhouse, this property was originally named as the Royal Albert Hotel. The inn was purchased by Christopher Sturdy in April 1854 and following Sturdy’s bankruptcy was acquired by William Earnshaw in 1861. The inn was known locally as Earnshaw’s Hotel. About 1866 the premises were renamed as the Railway Hotel. The premises were acquired by John Carter & Co. in 1872

FROG & FIRKIN INN – Chapel Street, near to St. Botolph’s Church.
c.f. Wheatsheaf & Sailors Home.
The public house was previously known as the Sailors Home and before that as the Wheatsheaf. The premises were extensively refurbished in 1991 and renamed as the Frog & Firkin. The inn closed again shortly afterwards and stands empty and unused at the time of writing.

GEORGE IV HOTEL – Aire Street at junction with Chapel Street.
c.f. Royal Hotel & George Inn.
First recorded licensee was Elizabeth Middleton in 1891. The inn may be the renamed Royal Hotel as that property is unrecorded after 1871 when it featured in the Post Office Directory as the Royal Inn. The licence was referred to the Compensation Authority and renewal refused on 10th June 1913. The inn closed shortly afterwards.

GOLDEN CUP INN – Aire Street – exact location uncertain.
First recorded licensee was Francis Stone in 1827. This beerhouse appears to have ceased to function in the mid-1850s. The 1857 Rate Book refers to a ‘house and shop’, occupied by Charles Shaw and owned by the Heirs of Francis Stone. The same entry features in the 1859 Rate Book. The beerhouse probably closed following the death of Mary Stone.

GREYHOUND INN – Banks Lane, adjacent to Rhodes Undertakers.
First recorded licensee was Robert Hall in 1838. The property was sold by Carter’s Knottingley Brewery Ltd., in September 1913. Referred to Compensation Authority on the 12th March 1927 when renewal of the licence was refused. The inn closed circa 1928 when it became a private residence. In July 1932 it was resold when it was described as "property, formerly site of inn…" The building was demolished in June 1980.

GREEN BOTTLE INN – Spawd Bone Lane.
First recorded licensee was Leslie Harry Howlett in 1962. The premises were originally known as the ‘Green House’, being part of Greenhouse Farm owned by the descendants of William Jackson. Part of the acreage was subsequently converted into the Knottingley Playing Fields and the house became a ‘detached’ residence, being converted as a public house in 1962.

JOLLY SAILOR – (Now Foundry Lane Club) Manor Fold, Canalside.
c.f. John Bull Inn.
First recorded licensee was Edward Spence in 1827.

LAMB INN – Racca Green Road.
c.f. Limestone Inn
First Recorded licensee was William Darnbrook in 1822. A provisional Ordinary Licence was granted to George Sefton on 14th February 1959, in respect of new premises to be built on land to the west of Springfield Avenue at its junction with Weeland Road. Confirmed 28th April 1959. Premises to be named as Lamb Inn.

LANCASHIRE & YORKSHIRE HOTEL – Station Road, adjacent to the Station entrance.
c.f. Williams Hotel
First Recorded licensee was Charles Williams in 1864. Licence surrendered on 17th April 1966 and closed for trading. Premises subsequently demolished.

LIME KEEL INN – Cow Lane, opposite Bendles.
First recorded licensee was James Beaumont in 1870. Premises closed and vacated on 2nd January 1973. Notification of Licence surrender by Whitbread plc on 15th January 1973. Licence withdrawn on 6th February 1973. Premises currently standing derelict.

LIMESTONE INN – Racca Green Road.
c.f. Lamb Inn
Situated at the eastern edge of Racca Green at the junction with Weeland Road and standing almost opposite the present Lamb Inn. The Limestone Inn was the original name of the former farm premises known by the name of the Lamb Inn from about 1860 and closed and demolished a century later.

MARINERS ARMS INN – Racca Green. Site opposite entrance to east end of Bendles, next to site later occupied by Lime Keel Inn.
First recorded licensee was George Sefton in 1848. Appears to have closed circa 1870 but buildings still standing early in the twentieth century. Ultimately demolished and site standing unoccupied at the time of writing.

c.f. Blue Bell, Ship & Punch Bowl, Royal Oak.
The Oak & Standard Inn was originally named the Ship & Punch Bowl. Owned by George Burton, a former local shipbuilder resident at Blue Tiled House, near the Island in the late eighteenth century. The Inn was renamed as the Royal Oak. The name change probably occurred when Burton acquired the premises about the turn of the following century. The Inn was still occasionally referred to as the Oak & Standard as late as the 1830s.

POTTERS ARMS INN – Holes Lane, adjacent to Ferrybridge Pottery.
First recorded licensee was John Cawthorn in 1841. Licence referred to Compensation Authority on 3rd March 1906. Licence renewal refused on 9th July 1907. Licence expired on 31st July 1907 and premises closed.

RAILWAY HOTEL – Top of Station Road at junction with Pontefract Road.
c.f. Royal Albert Hotel & Earnshaw’s Hotel.
First recorded licensee was Hannah Pearson in 1840s when the owner was William Moorhouse.

c.f. Earnshaw’s Hotel & Railway Hotel.
Built about 1840 by William Moorhouse, the property was named in honour of the Prince Consort. The property was obtained by Christopher Sturdy in 1854. Following Sturdy’s bankruptcy in 1861, the hotel was acquired by William Earnshaw and occupied by George Earnshaw and through his connection the premises became known colloquially as Earnshaw’s Hotel. The development of the local railway network from the mid-1840s prompted the renaming of the property as the Railway Hotel about 1866.

RED LION INN – Low Green, to east of Hope Glassworks entrance, opposite junction with Harker Street.
First recorded licensee was George Hall in 1822. Closed for structural alterations on 16th November 1965. Premises closed down but licence retained on 29th March 1971. Licence surrendered 5th May 1971. Premises demolished and site now incorporated into Hope Glassworks (Gregg’s).

RISING SUN INN – Hill Top, at junction of Marine Villa Road and Pontefract Road.
First recorded licensee was William Taylor in 1813. Referred to Compensation Authority on 9th March 1907. Licence renewal refused 27th May 1907. Licence expired and premises closed 21st December 1907. Premises served as a general provisions shop, owned by Mr. Everatt but became unsafe and was demolished 1943. Hill Top Workingmens’ Club (now replaced by Morrisions Supermarket complex) was eventually built on the inn site.

ROPERS ARMS INN – Cow Lane at junction with Sunny Bank.
First recorded licensee was Samuel Atkinson, a ropemaker. Premises closed but licence retained on 31st March 1971. Licence not renewed 1st February 1972. Property subsequently sold and converted into several private flats.

ROYAL HOTEL / INN – Aire Street at junction with Chapel Street.
c.f. George IV Hotel.
First Recorded licensee was Francis Ord in 1802-03.

ROYAL OAK INN - Back Lane.
c.f. Blue Bell, Ship & Punch Bowl and Oak & Standard.
First recorded licensee was Richard Wilson pre 1822. Property became a common lodging house post 1892.

SAILORS HOME INN – Chapel Street, at corner adjacent to St. Botolph’s Church.
c.f. Wheatsheaf Inn, Frog & Firkin.
First recorded licensee was William Knapton in 1848. Purchased and interior refurbished and reopened as Frog & Firkin in 1991. Closed 1997 and now standing unused.

SHIP INN - Island, east end of Aire Street.
First recorded licensee was John Robinson, shipbuilder. Licence surrendered 18th July 1908 and transferred to Moorthorpe Hotel, South Kirkby. Premises sold January 1909.

c.f. Blue Bell Inn, Royal Oak Inn, Oak & Standard.
Name originally given to an inn situated in Back lane (The Croft). The premises were known as the Blue Bell Inn and later renamed at the Oak & Standard before being named yet again as the Royal Oak towards the end of the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The inn closed in 1892 and was for many years thereafter a common lodging house.

First recorded licensee was John Atkinson. The site of this inn has not been traced.

c.f. Commercial Inn.
Originally known as the Commercial Inn, the name of this public house was changed to that of the Steam Packet in August 1986, following the purchase of the premises by James and Susan Mellor the previous year. The new owners also reintroduced on site brewing, a welcome development which revived the tradition of publican – brewer, a once common feature within the town which had declined to virtual extinction by the mid nineteenth century.

SWANN INN – Also known later as the White Swan. Hill Top, on site of former Manor House now occupied by the Catholic Church. Re-sited at England Lane, 1961.
First recorded licensee was John Etherington in 1822. Licence renewed provisionally and removal licence granted by Compensation Authority 1st March 1958. Licence renewal refused 30th May 1958. Final order in respect of new premises at Morley Close, England Lane on 16th November 1957. Transfer of licence 11th February 1961.

THREE HORSE SHOES INN – Racca Green, south side of Weeland Road.
First recorded licensee was Richard Birkett in 1810.

WAGON & HORSES INN – Aire Street at junction with Chapel Street.
First recorded licensee was John Laidman in 1803. Reputed to have belonged to a religious order based at Meaux and the only non-freehold property in Knottingley’s township. Premises closed 1970 and no renewal application at lapse of licence on 2nd February 1971. Demolished.

WALLBOTTLE INN – Hazel Road, Warwick Estate.
First recorded licensee was Harold Killingbeck in 1964. Provisional licence granted 17th November 1964, pending approval of plans. Final order granted 16th November 1965.

WHEATSHEAF INN – Chapel Street, adjacent to St. Botolph’s Church.
c.f. Sailors Home, Frog and Firkin.
The Wheatsheaf was the original name for the Sailors Home Inn. Known as Wheatsheaf for about three decades following its establishment in the 1840s.

WILLIAMS HOTEL – Bottom of Station Road, left hand side, adjacent to Station entrance.
c.f. Lancs & Yorks Hotel.

WILLOW TREE INN – High Street, Ferrybridge.
First recorded licensee was John Davis in 1885. Formerly the site of the town prison, details of the occupancy of this inn have not been traced. Licence refused on 4th June 1934 and premises closed. Demolished in 1960s.

WINSTON HOTEL – Long Racca, Womersley Road.
First recorded licensee was Alfred Bertram in 1939. Provisional licence granted 4th March 1939. Final order 14th March 1942. New full licence granted 10th March 1945. Owned by Tadcaster Brewery Co., York, the Hotel was under the management of Hammond’s Brewery Co., from 1st April 1951, before the company acquired ownership on 10th January 1962. Fell into ownership of Bass Ltd in 1970.

Terry Spencer, 1998



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