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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 PUBLIC HOUSES & BREWERIES
circa. 1750 – 1998


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

CHAPTER THREE

THE EARLY INNS: AN HISTORICAL SURVEY

Of the seventeen licensed public houses known to have been established by the second decade of the nineteenth century only three, the Cherry Tree, Bay Horse and the Swan, are still in existence today, although the latter has transferred to a new location while the first named has been rebuilt upon its original site.

Nevertheless, the early inns, although long vanished, are noteworthy in the context of their historical development. Of these, two, the Swan and the Dog, were housed in two of the oldest and, in terms of vernacular architecture, grandest buildings in the town at the time of their establishment.

The Swan, better known as the White Swan, although the prefix is not recorded until 1871, was situated at Hill Top. The inn was established in the former Manor House built by the Ingram family in the early seventeenth century when they became lords of the manor of Knottingley.

By the mid-eighteenth century the mansion had been inherited by the Atkinson’s who initially resided in the west wing and converted the eastern portion of the premises into the Swan Inn. Further portions of the large rambling building housed at various times thereafter, a wheelwright’s and a saddler’s shop (the latter being in existence during the boyhood of the present writer when it was in the possession of the Leeman family), a blacksmith’s forge, associated with Robert Jackson, later the licensee of the Commercial Hotel, Hill Top, and for more than a decade in the mid-nineteenth century provided a site for the town’s prison.

In addition, a beershop occupied an adjacent site, providing a sales outlet for the on-site brewery of William Hurst, the whole complex having once been part of the outbuildings of the Ingram mansion. The site was also that from which Silvester Atkinson traded as a common brewer during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Again, in common with several other inns within the town and elsewhere, the presence of a craftsmen’s shop, capable of dealing with problems facing travellers, was a means of drawing customers to the inn and even the reason d’etre for some public houses.

Like the Swan, the manorial antecedents of the Dog Inn are indisputable. Where an element of doubt arises however, is in connection with the particular manorial site on which the inn was situated. A sale notice dated 1843, refers to "The Dog Public-House, formerly the Manor House, with malt-kiln, barn stables and outbuildings."

The notice quite unambiguously states that the site of the Dog Inn is that of the former manor house, being the Wildbore residence situated at the junction of Hill Top and Chapel Street (now occupied by St. Botolph’s Gardens). As this was also the site of the earliest common brewery to be established within the town it would make sense to have had a retail outlet on site. However, some years ago an inn sign bearing the legend ‘Dog & Gun’ was uncovered on the site of the present Manor Farm House, which although of ancient origin was never the actual manor house, being erroneously referred to as such by succeeding generations of townsfolk from the mid-nineteenth century onward. There is therefore a circumstantial connection between the Dog Inn and Manor Farm and this is further underlined by other features. The site, as may be expected, contained a brewhouse and also a bullring. Bull bating was a popular sport associated with public house ‘entertainment’ during the eighteenth century. The practice was outlawed by parliament in 1823 and it is alleged that the last bull bating in England took place on the Manor Farm site about this time. Also, the 1841 Census names the location of the inn as the ‘Riverside’, a point of identity more appropriate to the Manor Farm than the Old Hall. In 1822, Mark Hepworth was the licensee of the Dog Inn, being succeeded briefly by his wife following Mark’s untimely death aged 32 in March 1827. By 1838 the publican is named as James Cheesborough thereafter, however, there is no reference to the inn. The Census of 1841 reveals that the property was in the possession of Mr. Dickinson, a draper, who had presumably purchased the premises following the closure of the public house.

Another Knottingley inn with which the Hepworth family had a tragic association was the Royal Hotel. Situated in Aire Street, at an uncertain location but believed to have been somewhere near the junction with Chapel Street, the house was the only licensed property to be designated as a hotel before the middle of the nineteenth century. The hotel was well established by the final quarter of the previous century at which time Jonathon Ord was recorded as the proprietor. By 1822, the premises had passed into the hands of Frances Ord, presumably Jonathon Ord’s widow, who according to one source traded as a spirit dealer and victualler from unnamed premises in Aire Street. Again, in 1827, the official documents do not name the premises occupied by Frances Ord, merely referring to ‘her house’. The following year the words "who is sick" were appended to Ord’s name at the time of her application for licence renewal, one William Simpson being appointed temporary landlord, presumably because of Ord’s indisposition.

The Hepworth connection with the Ord family arose through the marriage of John Hepworth and Isabella Ord, niece of the proprietor of the Royal Hotel. Hepworth, a seaman, served under Nelson at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801. Returning home in 1803, with his pockets filled with prize money, the twenty-two year old gave a series of celebratory suppers for his old friends within the town. The Royal Hotel was the venue for these events and it was at this time that Isabella Ord took the fancy of the young sailor. Isabella was staying with her relations having recently left the service of a nobleman’s family. After a brief courtship the pair were married at a wedding, which was later described as being "…a glorious wedding…and open house to all comers."

Shortly afterwards, although his wife was expecting the birth of their first child, economic necessity drove John Hepworth back to sea. John rejoined the fleet in 1804 and saw active service at Trafalgar on the 21st October 1805.

A period of peace being secured, John was paid off and returned to the Royal Hotel to find that his wife had left their son with his grandfather while she returned to domestic service. John brought Isabella back home but eventually feeling the pull of the sea, left Knottingley, whereupon, Isabella promptly returned to her former situation.

John Hepworth did not return home for many years thereafter and when his son, Ord Hepworth, was thirteen, his grandfather, a ship owner, fitted out a vessel with a load of London bound coal and placed Ord on board in order that he might fulfil a long felt need to see his mother. As the ship navigated the river Ouse the weather began to deteriorate and by the time the vessel had reached Hull a violent storm was raging. The ship was blown off course onto the Whitton Sands, a desolate spot some three miles beyond the mouth of the river Trent. There the vessel was wrecked with the loss of all hands. The young Ord was reportedly seen clinging to a masthead for almost four hours before fatigue overcame him. The body of the boy was later washed ashore and he was buried in the local churchyard.

Informed of the tragedy and the reason for the boys trip, Isabella suffered a severe depression. Returning to Knottingley, she attempted unsuccessfully to regain her health but was eventually committed to Wakefield Lunatic Asylum where she died and was buried following eighteen months of mental derangement, on the 11th November 1831.

In 1839, John Hepworth died and was buried at Knottingley, having returned there from the sea some time earlier. Thus, the family who saw so little of each other in life remained separated in death.

Situated in Holes Lane near the junction with Forge Hill, the Duke of York Inn was most probably one of the longest established in Knottingley. Its location close to the point where the King’s Mills weir necessitated the transhipment of all goods carried by vessels along the nearby river Aire, ensured that the inn was well placed to serve as a watering hole for mariners, horse haulers, warfingers and sundry carriers and shipping agents during the heyday of river transport. Even after the construction of the Aire & Calder canal during the third decade of the nineteenth century the inn was well patronised by the maritime fraternity and it was only from the last quarter of that century when the bulk of the river trade had transferred to the canal and steam vessels gradually replaced boat horses and their accompanying attendants that a decline in the customary trade of the inn occurred.

The Blue Bell Inn, later renamed several times, was also a long established inn. Situated in Back Lane (the Croft) and accessible from Aire Street, the Blue Bell was owned by Benjamin Branford and his wife by the advent of the nineteenth century. In 1820 the premises were conveyed to Mark Carter, common brewer of Hill Top, Knottingley, although Branford was retained as the licensee. After 1822, however, there appears to be no further record of the inn, which must therefore be presumed closed shortly after that date. The disappearance of the name may be explained, however, as being the result of a change of identity for a lease dated 1839 refers to the Blue Bell "known heretofore as the Ship and Punch Bowl but now called the Royal Oak."

An indenture of lease of June 1858 also refers to the property "known as the Royal Oak, formerly the Blue Bell, [situated] in a narrow passage called Back Lane."

The Royal Oak was known as the Oak & Standard when George Burton was the publican and also in 1827-28 when Burton’s widow, Sarah, was the licensee. However, an alternative source names the premises as the Royal Oak in 1822 and this name continued in general use, being listed as the house of Sarah Burton in 1838. By 1839, however, the premises were unoccupied following the bankruptcy of the owner, Richard Dickson Askham. Clearly, the multiplicity of the names marks a transitional phase in the history of the inn, renaming being a common feature concerning changes in ownership and legal status of licensed premises.

The sole inn to be established within Knottingley before 1820, which can be dated with certainty, is the Rising Sun. The inn was established at Hill Top at the junction with Marine Villa Road in a house belonging to William Butler. The tenant was William Taylor, a cooper by trade, who, in April 1813, took a seven-year lease on the premises and established the Rising Sun Inn. Taylor did not renew the lease however, but moved on to become the publican of the Bay Horse, situated only a few hundred yards further along Hill Top, where he commenced a family connection which lasted well over half a century.

The Bay Horse was originally one of a small group of roadside cottages. The premises formed one of the many small farmsteads which were scattered throughout the locality and were a feature of the original rural character of the township. Two other inns which shared a common origin were the Red Lion and the Limestone.

The Red Lion was situated at Fernley Green on land which now forms part of the Hope Glassworks site. The premises included a brewhouse, stables and a slaughterhouse and shop. In the early nineteenth century the publican was Mark Stillings who appears to have supplemented the income obtained from the inn by trading as a glazier, an economic duality prevalent amongst licensed victualler's within the town well into the second half of the century. In 1857, at which time the licensee was Walter Worfolk, Mark Stillings continued to occupy the shop on the site of the Red Lion as a glaziers. It is a matter for conjecture whether the demographic changes within the town with the consequent demand for housing for the growing population had provided Stillings with the opportunity to surrender his publicans licence and follow the trade of glazier as a full-time occupation. However, at a later date, the shop, and presumably the adjacent slaughterhouse, were utilised by the then licensee, William Earnshaw Wright, who was also a butcher.

The Cherry Tree also incorporated a separate dwelling house and shop. The premises are first recorded in a deed of 1807 which refers to a divided dwelling house with a portion being used as a barbers shop and residence and were still functioning as late as the 1960s.

The date of the said deed probably marks the establishment of the inn at the junction of Aire Street, Cow Lane and Marsh End for the Enclosure Award Map of 1800 indicates that no building occupied the site at that date. The Award Schedule provides a probable insight concerning the origin of the name of the Cherry Tree Inn and also an indication of an earlier inn bearing the same name. The Award records a holding 2 roods 16 perches in extent situated at Low Green and belonging to one John Pickering. The property comprised a dwelling and garden, identified by the name of "Cherry Tree House (in two)"

The division of the premises is a probable indication that the house was the public house occupied some time before 1752 by Robert Pickering, with one part of the divided premises forming the public area and the other being retained for private use. The fact that the earliest recorded occupant of the Cherry Tree which occupies the present site was James Pickering suggests the relocation of the earlier inn early in the nineteenth century.

At the time the inn was relocated the premises were owned by William Jackson, a local limeburner, with James Pickering as his under-tenant. With Jackson’s bankruptcy shortly afterwards the inn passed to the Brown family. In common with the Bay Horse, the Cherry Tree was notable for an enduring occupancy, for the Brown family were the continuous licensees for more than half a century from 1809. Furthermore, their successors, the Jackson’s, spent 25 years in occupation from 1865. The inn also had the singular distinction of having had no less than five female licensees between the early nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition, the inn was also the first in town to have a manager as a temporary incumbent, a Captain Simmons being installed by Carters’ Brewery in that capacity during the first nine months of 1882.

The Limestone Inn, which stood at the edge of Racca Green at its junction with Weeland Road, was a long established public house located in a former farmhouse. The publican in residence throughout the first four decades of the nineteenth century was William Darnbrook. The names of William and Roger Darnbrook feature in every list of the official recognizances from the mid-eighteenth century suggesting a continuous association between the family and the Limestone Inn for well over a century. The ownership of the inn during the middle decades of the nineteenth century is less clear. The name of Ann Shillito as the owner of the property in the 1857 Rate Book has been struck out at a later date and that of George Greenhow substituted. However, an alternative source reveals that the premises were rented by Gaggs, Carter & Co. from the executors of William Jackson at that date. Greenhow is last recorded as the owner in October 1867 and at about that date George Hall, a farmer who appears to have had previous connections as the tenant of the adjacent farmstead, took possession of the inn as the owner-occupier. Hall appears to have experienced financial difficulties in raising the money required to purchase the property however, and in August 1867 obtained a loan of £200 from John Carter by offering the deeds of the property as security. The name of the inn was changed from the Limestone to the Lamb Inn during Hall’s tenure, doubtless reflecting his pastoral nature as characterised by his original occupation. Again, the transitional duality is noticeable with John Carter noting the premises in his account book as the "Limestone or Lamb Inn."

About 1871 the licence was withdrawn from the Lamb Inn and although Carters purchased the premises in September 1873, presumably with reopening the premises in mind, it was not until some thirty years later, in 1904, that a full licence was obtained when the licence of the now defunct Anchor Inn was transferred to the Lamb.

The Wagon & Horses Inn was part of a whole complex of houses, shops and miscellaneous buildings which occupied land between Chapel Street and the Flatts. Formerly, the site was in the possession of the religious order based at Meaux in the East Riding of Yorkshire, being seized by the Crown at the Reformation. For this reason the freehold bestowed upon the land of Knottingley at some early but undefined date was not applicable to the site until it became alienated from the Crown at a later period. A deed of December 1803, conferring the leasehold on John Laidman, a carrier of Knottingley, is an obvious renewal of an earlier conveyance for the inn and stable yard are stated to be "now occupied by John Laidman"

In February 1807, the property was sold by Thomas Naylor to Thomas Story (sic) of Rothwell, Laidman being named as the sitting tenant. In May 1810, Laidman purchased the property from Story. However, the following February the property changed hands again when it was purchased by Thomas Shillito, limeburner of Knottingley. At that time Laidman had apparently moved to Ferrybridge and the tenant of the Wagon & Horses was John Canby. Laidman appears to have moved from Knottingley to take up the occupancy of the [Three] Horse Shoes, Ferrybridge, which, together with other land in that village, was sold to Shillito. The business interests of Laidman appear to have been quite diverse for in addition to being a common carrier and publican he was recorded in 1850 as a butcher and fourteen years later as a willow merchant. Canby for his part was still the publican when the Wagon & Horses were again sold in August 1844, the purchaser being Silvester Atkinson, common brewer of Knottingley. At some point during Canby’s tenure the leasehold was acquired by Gaggs, Carter & Co., for a deed dated October 1870 records the possession of the lease. At the time of the deed the occupant of the inn was John Shay. It seems most probable that following his withdrawal from the brewing trade in the 1850s, Atkinson sold the inn to Robert Moorhouse who is the recorded owner in 1859 and that the leasehold was obtained by Gaggs, Carter & Co. about that time.

The Ship Inn was established on the Aire bank at the edge of the Rowcroft where vessel construction and repair was undertaken before the eighteenth century at which period three families, the Robinsons, Sharps and Wests are known to have occupied the site. All three names feature in the official lists of licensed victualler's issued between 1778 and 1803. Between 1771-78, the name of John Robinson is recorded and although no inn is named it is safe to assume that his abode was the Ship Inn. William Sharp is named as a publican between 1778-1803, again, presumably as occupant of the Ship, although the list of 1778 includes the name of both Sharp and Robinson. However, as the families were linked by marriage it is possible that the fact provided a common link with the inn. In 1803 the names of Sharp and Richard West are listed and in 1822 the name John Robinson reappears in connection with the Ship Inn and continues until the end of the decade.

The property appears to have been owned by the Sharp family for a deed of November 1830 refers to an agreement between William Sharp and Henry Gaggs in January 1806. However, with the death of William Sharp in 1821, the property was sold to John Robinson by his brother-in-law, William Sharp Junior.

In May 1830, Robinson was declared bankrupt, being listed as a vessel builder, victualler, dealer and chapman at that date. Robinson’s holdings on the Rowcroft site were considerable for in addition to the Ship Inn they included four adjacent cottages which had previously been used as a brewhouse, a paint shop, blacksmiths shop, boat sheds and stables, all of which are stated to have formerly belonged to the Sharp family.

At the time of Robinson’s bankruptcy Mark Carter was named as a Trustee in respect of the disposal of his property. The involvement of Carter is a likely indication that the Brewery Company held the leasehold of the inn, a possibility given substance by the earlier transformation of the defunct on-site brewhouse into dwelling houses. Robinson’s insolvency resulted in the passing of the ownership of the Ship Inn to John Austwick, master mariner of Knottingley, but the inn was sold by him to Gaggs, Carter & Co., shortly after the company was placed under the management of John Carter in 1836.

The Bay Horse, although substantially altered several decades ago by the demolition of several outbuildings and the reorganisation of the ground plan to present a more open aspect to the main road, is basically the same building as that dating back to the eighteenth century. The premises stand opposite Forge Hill Lane and were doubtless ideally situated to obtain the passing trade along that lane en route to the river staithes as well as that following the east-west route through the town. In addition, the inn was situated alongside one of the principle lime routes by which the limestone excavated to the south and west of the township was transported from the quarries to the waterway. The rambling lay-out of the property prior to the renovation of the mid 1960s clearly betrayed the origin of the house as the hub of a small farmstead before the fields in the immediate vicinity were surrendered to the more lucrative business of limestone extraction.

Of the remaining inns with a foundation date preceding the nineteenth century there is little extant evidence. By their names and their locations the Ship Inn and the Anchor Inn bespeak maritime connections. The Ship lay close by the river Aire at a point behind the now defunct and derelict Palace Cinema. Indeed, the lane connecting Aire Street to the jetty formerly situated on the Aire bank is still designated Ship Lane, though probably less from the existence of the inn than from the access it provided, for in addition to the aforementioned jetty, the area known as Pickhill Garth and the Rowcroft was Crown Land which contained a yard in which vessels were constructed and refitted and, together with the adjacent island area, provided moorings for laid-up craft.

Although undoubtedly of eighteenth century origin, the early history of the Anchor Inn is almost as obscure as the facts concerning its establishment. The name of John Whittlestone which features in the recognizances of 1803 may be a misinterpretation of the name of John Whittlestall who is recorded as the landlord of the Anchor in the 1820s, and thereby provide an indication of a well established family connection stretching back into the previous century.

A public house which is known to have existed in the first decade of the nineteenth century but which is not featured in the list of 1822 is quite well documented in everything but name and may have been known as the Three Horse Shoes. A document of February 1810 states that the inn was situated on the south side of Weeland Road, near the common pinfold at Racca Green. At that date the premises were occupied by Richard Birkett but the names of two previous occupiers, Samuel Turvor and William Copley, suggests that the inn may have been established by the close of the previous century. The Enclosure Award reveals that the site, in excess of three acres, consisted of dwelling houses and an adjoining garth in 1793 and belonged to Henry Stables. Shortly thereafter the site was acquired by John Longwood who divided the land, selling one part to John Earnshaw and the other to John Crosby. Earnshaw established the inn by combining what had previously been two separate dwelling.

As early as 1810 the inn had become a base for an organisation known as the Male Friendly Building Society or alternatively, the Knottingley Brotherly Society. Mark Carter was the President of the organisation, suggesting a possible connection between the public house and the Gaggs, Carter Company. Throughout the following sixty years the Society evolved into the British Friendly Society (1829), The Pontefract & Knottingley Benefit Building Society (1849) and the Pontefract, Castleford & Knottingley Building Society (1853), being known by the latter name as late as 1877.

John Earnshaw was declared bankrupt in 1811 and the ownership and history of the property is uncertain after that date. The omission of the inn from the lists of the 1820s may indicate a period of closure with possible revival prompted by the Beer Act of 1830 for Richard Hill is recorded as the licensee in 1838 and the Brotherly Society still retained the connection with the site in 1841. Likewise, the Earnshaw family, for one of the named parties in a document of that date is George Earnshaw, who by 1848 was the licensee of the Swan Inn and at a somewhat later date of the Royal Albert Hotel, known colloquially as Earnshaw’s Hotel. The 1841 deed also reveals the continuation of the Carter connection with the inn for John Carter is named as an interested party and the document is witnessed by John Proctor, the company’s Head Brewer. In 1847 the occupant of the premises was Christopher Sturdy who in the middle of the following decade purchased the Royal Albert Hotel whilst a deed of January 1848 links John Tasker, a blockmaker of Knottingley with the tenancy of a house and butchers shop on the site. The presence of the butcher’s shop may be significant in the context of occupational duality for in 1861 a Mrs Hannah Hill is recorded as a beer retailer and butcher, resident in Aire Street. One may conject that she was the wife of the former publican at the Racca Green site who may also have traded as a butcher during his tenure of the premises.

The last recorded documentation concerning the Three Horse Shoes Inn is a vague reference in the archives of Carter’s Brewery Co., dated November 1866, concerning insurance cover for the premises, suggesting that the inn was closed at some point shortly thereafter.

Apart from the corresponding similarity between the number of inns known to have been established by the mid eighteenth century and an identifiable number in existence by the second decade of the following century, our knowledge of the history of the early inns is often conjectural and much specific information concerning the earliest known premises that we do possess is largely drawn from the later period.

Terry Spencer, 1998


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