Knottingley and Ferrybridge Online West Yorkshire
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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)



The number of licensed premises in Knottingley declined slightly from the mid eighteenth century, from 18 in 1752 to 15 in 1784, remaining at the latter number until the third decade of the following century. It is interesting to note that despite the decline in home brewing and an increase of 1,149 in the local population between 1801-1821, there was no increase in the number of retail outlets within the town, a fact which further suggests that the bilk of the business undertaken by Knottingley Brewery throughout that period was conducted with private customers for domestic rather than public consumption. However, from the mid 1820s the number of public houses began to rise, reaching a total of 19 by 1838, supplemented by some 25 beerhouses which had been established in the wake of the Act of 1830.

Three new public houses were opened between 1822 and the end of the decade whilst two of the existing ones underwent a complete or partial name change, the whole change process reflecting the transformation of the township from the second quarter of the new century.

The first significant change was of a topographical nature. Between 1820-26 the Aire & Calder canal was cut through the town and several new bridges were built to carry traffic over the new navigation. The development resulted in the upgrading of Weeland Road which since 1741 had formed part of the Weeland Turnpike Trust.

The combination of road improvements and the construction of the canal encouraged the use of the turnpike road over Jackson Bridge and along the southern edge of the township by through traffic in order to bypass the busier and more congested traditional route through Aire Street and Marsh End. Utilisation of the alternative route caused the gradual diminishment of the Aire Street waterfront, a trend compunded by the shift of waterborne traffic from the river to the canal. The transition was also important in that locations such as Banks Lane and Racca Green which had formerly been areas of secondary settlement and occupational activity now assumed greater prominence. The demographic change was reflected in the establishment of a series of public houses in and around the newly developed areas. In 1827, a new public house, the Greyhound, was opened adjacent to the existing blacksmiths shop at Banks Lane. The premises provided an outlet for beer produced by William Bywater at his Cow Lane brewery. Following Bywater’s death in 1856, the inn was owned by his son, Dr. John Hall Bywater but the early demise of John Bywater resulted in his widow, Hannah Martha (nee Senior) letting the premises to John Carter & Co. in 1861. (3) The conjunction of inn and forge was ideally suited to meet the requirements of passing travellers and also served the passing traffic along the lime route running from the quarries located to the south of the town via England Lane and Weeland Road which had formerly continued via Chapel Street to the riverside but which since the opening of the canal, terminated at the Bendles staithes. The proximity of his forge to the new terminus and the potential for additional income was not lost on John Fell, proprietor of a blacksmith’s shop situated next to Jackson Bridge and directly opposite the entrance to the Bendles, who by 1856 had opened a beerhouse alongside his forge, naming it the Anvil & Blacksmith. (4)

The potential for trade afforded by the Beer Act of 1830 is indicated by the opening of the Golden Cup and the Sportsmans’ Inn about that date. Both seem to have had a brief existence for neither is listed after the end of the decade and consequently little is known of either establishment. The Golden Cup was situated at an undefined site in Aire Street under the proprietorship of Francis Stone (5) whilst the Sportsmans’ Inn was located at Racca Green and may have been influenced in its foundation by the demographic and geographic changes noted above. Although the disappearance of both the inn names suggests that the economic potential at the time of their establishment may have been more apparent than real it is possible that in the case of the last named house a name change occurred for coincidental with the demise of the Sportsmans’ Inn is the appearance of the Three Horse Shoes, although here again, information concerning the subsequent history of the Three Horse Shoes is so fragmentary that the possibility that the inns were one and the same is restricted to mere speculation. (6) If the demise of the Sportsmans’ Inn arose in consequence of a misjudged business opportunity the long-term value of such a venture was evident from the 1840s onwards when the rapid concentration of population and the proximity of the waterborne trade in areas such as Cow Lane, Racca Green, Sunny Bank, Manor Fold and Fernley Green spawned licensed premises whose names: Jolly Sailor, Mariner’s Arms, Roper’s Arms, Boat and Lime Keel, reflect the maritime activity which engendered and sustained them.

Name changes, as indicated by the examples quoted in the case of the Royal Oak and the Limestone inns, whilst not commonplace were not unique. A further example is evident by reference to the John Bull Inn which was sited alongside the canal at Manor Fold. The inn is first recorded in 1827 and originally belonged to Edward Spence (7) Following Spence'’ demise the property was let to Gaggs, Carter & Co., by his widow Mary, at which time the name was probably changed to that of the Jolly Sailor. (8) The lease was renewed in October 1847, by which time William Dey, a mariner of Knottingley, had acquired the premises either by direct purchase or through an unredeemed mortgage loan, although both Mary Spence and her son were retained as successive licensees. (9) William Dey and his brother Michael, were both indebted to John Carter during the following decade, using the property deeds as security for their loans but in each case the mortgage was redeemed. The inn therefore continued in the possession of the Dey family until the twentieth century at which time it acquired the unique distinction of being the only public house in Knottingley to make the transfer to the status of a workingmens’ club. Known as the Foundry Lane Club & Institute but still affectionately known as ‘The Jolly’, as a sign in the main entrance mutely testifies, the club retains an exclusive male membership being a private club corporately owned by the members.

The Roper’s Arms was established by Samuel Atkinson, a ropemaker who owned the Bendles Ropewalk, now part of the ex Bagley glassworks site. (10) The inn is variously referred to in trade directories as the Rope Maker’s Arms and the Rope Arms (11) By 1857 the property was in the hands of Bowers executors but by the last quarter of the century belonged to Elizabeth Pickersgill of the Old Castle Brewery, Pontefract, before passing top Bentley’s Yorkshire Brewery in 1935. (12) The Roper’s Arms closed in March 1971 and the property was then converted into private flats. Fortunately, the building retains much of the external appearance presented when the property was a public house. In this respect it is an imaginative example of architectural adaptability which one could wish had been applied to many more of the towns former buildings.

Another canalside inn, situated at the opposite end of Sunny Bank to the Roper’s Arms, was the Boat. The inn was not established until the late 1860s, being the property of John Raddings, a ships chandler, who owned a crane standing at the opposite side of the canal near Shepherd’s Bridge and used for dismasting local keels and sloops to enable storage or refurbishment of the same. Raddings provided stabling on the site of the Boat Inn for the horses used to haul the vessels along the canal. (13)

The Beehive Inn at Fernley Green was also established in the 1830s. The inn stood adjacent to the malt kilns which occupied land between Liquorice Lane and the canal side. The premises had originally served as a private residence, known as Charles House, which was opened as a beerhouse by the owner, Charles Coward, and kept by William Womack, a farmer. (14) By mid century, however, the owner of the property was Thomas Nichols, the beerhouse being one of the few such premises to obtain the status of a fully licensed public house. (15)

By the 1830s a new type of inn had made an appearance as the result of the construction of the canal. The flyboat passenger and mail services had originally plied on the river Aire where the vageries of flood and tide had made it impossible to ensure an accurate and efficient time-table. Following the opening of the canal the service was transferred to the inland navigation and by 1831 steamboats and paddle steamers were in general use, supplementing the horse-drawn flyboats which offered a swifter and more comfortable service to travellers than that available overland, not withstanding the terrestrial improvements promoted by the Weeland Turnpike Trust. By 1830 the Commercial Inn had been built to accommodate the needs of the waterborne travellers. John Hall, a coach proprietor, kept the inn at that date, together with adjacent stables in which the coach horses were groomed, fed and rested. A scheduled passenger service connected Pontefract, Wakefield, Leeds, Askern and Hull with Knottingley inns such as the Roper’s Arms, Swan and Commercial where travellers rested and refreshed themselves whilst awaiting transportation. The steam packet ‘Magnet’ plied from the Commercial, offering a daily return service between Knottingley and Goole, whilst passengers using the Swan Inn made the connection with the flyboat at the stepped landing stage known as Packet Hill, near Gaggs Bridge. (16) The coaching era was of brief duration, however, being dealt a swift and mortal blow by the introduction of the local railway line between Wakefield and Goole in 1845. Nevertheless, despite the decline of the coaching trade the Commercial remained in existence albeit in a somewhat less prosperous style. By mid century the Commercial Inn was in the dual ownership of Messrs. Smallpage & Wood, (17) and by 1857 John Curtis commenced a family tenancy which was to last almost sixty years thereafter.

The dispersal of much business and its associated traffic from Aire Street to other areas of the town caused an obvious decline in the prosperity of the Royal Hotel which is named by one source of 1871, merely as the Royal Inn, an implied loss of status which may have resulted in its closure shortly afterwards. The decline and ultimate demise may however, owe something to the competition for dwindling trade engendered by the establishment of the Aire Street Hotel which had been opened on a site at East Parade during the 1850s. The proprietor of the new hotel was George Greenhow and his undertenant was William Holmes, who remained as the licensee for over twenty years. (18) The fact that the maritime trade had been ebbing away from the riverside for upwards of a generation did not curtail the importance of Aire Street as the social hub of the town, a fact which explains the establishment of the new hotel in the face of demographic change.

Here again, however, a change of name may explain the absence of the name Royal Hotel for the Census of 1891 records the existence of a hotel by the name of the King George IV while a newspaper reference the following year concerning the transfer of the licence of the George Inn reveals the said premises to be connected to a chemists shop in Aire Street. The fact may indicate that the George Hotel / Inn was the renamed Royal Hotel / Inn of earlier date, particularly as the owner, George Greenhow, was a chemist and druggist. (19)

A public house which opened in the wake of the Wellington Act was the Mariners’ Arms, the site of which was on land in Racca Green directly opposite the eastern end of the Bendles and for many years past a derelict plot. The earliest known reference to the inn is dated 1848 when Charles Sefton was the landlord. (20) The inn was still occupied by Sefton in 1851. (21) Six years later the premises are recorded as being "in hand", the owner being George Sefton. (22) The fact suggest that Charles Sefton had recently died for two years later his son, George, is named as the owner but the licensee is one John Barber. (23) the last recorded reference to the inn is dated 1866 when William Jackson was the licensee. (24) An indication that the property had ceased to function as a public house by 1870 is the tripartite agreement of February 1870 between John Barber, the owner, John Carter, the leaseholder and William Goulding, concerning the division of the site and its buildings which in addition to the inn included a shoemakers shop and cottage. The agreement was of considerable legal significance for some twelve years later it formed the basis of an action in the Chancery Division of the High Court between the trustees of Barber’s widow and Goulding, as a result of which a settlement was imposed by which Barber’s Trustees retained the inn and the adjacent properties. (25) It was, presumably, the eventual decision of the Trustees to demolish the property, although the premises were still in situ shortly after the turn of the present century and the vacant plot remains to this day.

The period 1835-80 was certainly the high period of liquor consumption in Knottingley. Nationally, the effect of the 1830 Act was to double the number of retail outlets from 24,000 to 46,000 by 1836. (26) At Knottingley an even higher percentage applied when in addition to 19 public houses an additional 25 beerhouses provided retail outlets. A breakdown of the locations of the new pot shops for the year 1838 reveals the following locational pattern:-

Hill Top 8. Low End (Fernley Green) 5. Aire Street 5. Racca Green 2. Cow Lane 1. Undesignated 1. (27) As noted earlier, most beer houses had a brief existence as the initial expectations of their proprietors failed to materialise. Nevertheless, with over 40 liquor outlets in the town vending their wares to a motley band of ‘outsiders’ such as mariners, commercial travellers and transient visitors, all supplementing the demands of the local inhabitants, there must have been some lively times at Knottingley during the mid nineteenth century. Indeed, a resolution in the Select Vestry Minute Book for the 24th November 1840 records,"that the Constable convey to the publicans the request of the Select Vestry to discontinue fiddling and dancing in their houses."

The extent to which the mission of the Parish Constable was successful is unrecorded but as the majority of licensed victuallers in 1848 were those whose names were recorded a decade earlier we may assume that an acceptable, if temporary, degree of order was attained. Again however, on the 4th January 1842 the Vestry resolved"That the Constable shall warn George Sefton against keeping his house in a disorderly manner."

Things do not seem to have improved, however, for on the 7th April 1852"The Select Vestry resolved after hearing the most respectable testimony, that stringent measures shall be adopted for the suppression (sic) of drunkenness, vice and immorality now so unhappily prevalent in the Town and neighbourhood."

Acts of 1834 and 1840 redefined the terms by which licences to sell liquor were obtained. Henceforth an ‘on’ licence could only be granted to a resident or occupier of premises seeking a full public house licence upon payment of three guineas and production of a reference testifying to the applicants good character signed by six parishioner's.  By mid century only a few beerhouses were still in existence and the number of fully licensed premises in the town had decreased to 17.  A Licensing Act of 1869 restored full responsibility for the granting of licences to retail outlets to the local justices who had always been hostile to the legislation which enabled beerhouses to be established with such relative ease and without recourse to magisterial approval and control.  In 1871 the Liberals proposed a stringent Licensing Bill which led to such an outcry amongst parties with vested interests in the victualling trade that the proposals had to be modified before becoming legalised by the Act of 1872. Nevertheless, the combined effect of the legislative programme from the mid century dictated a more restrictive pattern of control and reorganisation of the trade which resulted in a reduction in the number of licensed premises.

Amongst the Knottingley beerhouses which survived to attain fully licensed status were the Mariner’s Arms, Beehive, Aire Street Hotel, Commercial Hotel and Anvil & Blacksmith. Other beerhouses were more anonymous in terms of title and exact location. The township Rate Book of 1857 lists a beerhouse situated on 2 perches of land belonging to John Adam and occupied by Furniss Moore at an undisclosed location. Also, a beerhouse at Racca Green, three perches in extent, owned by John Eyre with John Fozzard as the publican features in the same source. (35) The 1859 Rate Book does however, list a beerhouse, barn, stable and yard at Low End, kept by William Womack and belonging to Robert Coward [known to be the Bee Hive] and another at an undefined location owned by William Moorhouse (ironically a local magistrate) and tenanted by William Heald. (36) The names of Womack and Fozzard feature in the list of beerhouse proprietors in 1838 and therefore indicates a twenty year association with the trade.

Following the building of Knottingley Railway Station in 1845, the town developed into an important railway junction with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Company’s line being joined by those of the Great Northern Railway and North Eastern Railway Company. (38) The station served all parts of the country and its importance was reflected in the construction of several new licensed premises adjacent to the terminus during the two following decades. (39)

The first such edifice was the Royal Albert Hotel which was erected in the late 1840s by William Moorhouse at the junction of Weeland Road and Station Road. (40) In April 1854 however, Moorhouse sold the property to Christopher Sturdy and his brother James. (41) Sturdy, described as an innkeeper of Knottingley, was probably the publican at the unidentified premises situated at Racca Green and believed to be the Three Horse Shoes. (42) By 1861 Sturdy was bankrupt and the premises were in the hands of William Earnshaw who installed his brother George as the licensee, (the latter incidentally also being associated with the Racca Green inn). (43) Thus began the family connection which led to the Hill Top premises becoming better known amongst the local populace by its colloquial name of ‘Earnshaw’s Hotel.’ (44) The Earnshaws’ appear to have previously followed financially successful occupations. William Earnshaw, originally a master mariner from Beal, had purchased several properties in Knottingley during the previous decade. (45) George Earnshaw had previously been a joiner at Darrington. (46) The strategic position of the Royal Albert Hotel and the prospective financial return arising from the development of Knottingley as an important railway junction may have provided the Earnshaw’s with the incentive to purchase the hotel. However, by 1866 the development of newer lines and passenger services in the district had caused the diversion of the principal routes from Knottingley and this may have resulted in the diminution of the hotels trade which led to the sale of the property to John Carter & Co., in 1871, by which date the premises were renamed as the Railway Hotel. (47)

Whilst the Railway Hotel may not have permanently fulfilled the expectations of its early owners there is no doubt that the advent of the railway was the making of the premises which stood almost opposite the Hotel. The house was originally the site of a blacksmiths shop which added a beerhouse in the early 1830s. (48) Although confined to the status of beerhouse until the 1880s, the attempt to attract the passenger trade resulted in the adoption of the rather more imposing name of the Commercial Hotel under the proprietorship of Mrs Eleanor Jackson, widow of the original licensee and blacksmith Robert Jackson. The metamorphosis of the establishment is clearly apparent from the designation within the 1857 Rate Book which refers to the establishment as the ‘Commercial Eating House’. (49) Mrs Jackson however, placed a higher estimate on the status of her establishment and in various trade directories emphasised the suitability of her accommodation for family groups by listing the inn as the Commercial & Family Hotel. The extent to which this emphasis on social respectability gained clients at the expense of the neighbouring Railway Hotel is conjectural but it appears to have enhanced the status of the Commercial Hotel for a time and it is interesting to note that by 1892 the proprietors of the Railway Hotel had begun to advertise their premises as the Railway Family & Commercial Hotel & Posting House. (50)

The presence of Robert Jackson at the upper end of Hill Top may date from the early 1840s for a document of November 1841 reveals Jackson in occupation of property adjacent to the White Swan Inn at that date, being a cottage sold to him in May 1825, and lately used as a beerhouse with blacksmiths shop and other outbuildings. (51) The precise date of Jackson’s lease of the property is not known. He earliest mention of Jackson’s occupation of the property is dated August 1823, (52) and his tenure must have commenced sometime after 1816 at which date the forge was occupied by John Bingley. (53) By the 1830s Jackson had moved to the western end of Hill Top to become the tenant of a beerhouse and blacksmith’s shop. (54) With the construction of the nearby railway station the premises were upgraded to full public house status, becoming known as the Commercial Hotel. Jackson’s transfer to the upper end of Hill Top must have occurred late in the 1830s for it was not until November 1840 that his property adjacent to the Swan was obtained by John Carter. One of the five cottages identified as being "lately used as a beerhouse." was the one previously associated with William Hirst and may have been kept by Jackson following Hirst’s retirement. (55)

Built in 1864, the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Hotel was founded to rival the nearby establishment of George Earnshaw, as shown by a notice inserted in a local newspaper which reveals "Charles William, late of the Dragon Hotel, Pontefract, begs to inform the Commercial Public and others that he has just entered on the [Lancs & Yorks] Hotel which has been fitted up and furnished for the reception of private families, commercial gentlemen, and others, where all parties patronising the House will receive every attention. Choice wines, spirits and ale of first-rate quality will be provided. N.B. The nearest House to Knottingley Station." (56)

Like its rival, the new hotel soon became identified with its first proprietor, being listed as the William’s Hotel. (57) However, the combination of fierce on-site competition and a reduction in passengers as a result of the decline in status of Knottingley as a railway junction meant that the opening of the hotel proved to be an expensive miscalculation. By 1866 Williams had left after selling the hotel. The property consisted of 2 acres 3 roods 25 perches of land and on which stood a coach house, granary, dwelling house, with adjacent croft and gardens. The site was described as being "…admirably situated for the erection of Malt Houses & Co., being adjoining the Lancs & Yorks Railway and having an unlimited supply of excellent water." (58)

At an auction sale, conducted in the hotel on Monday 19th April, the property was purchased by the Tadcaster Tower Brewery Co. who retained the ownership until 1952. (59)

Mention has already been made of the origins of the Anvil Inn which was established as a beershop in premises belonging to Jane Jackson and occupied by John Fell, a blacksmith, during the 1850s. (60) Indeed, the name of the inn was only abbreviated from its original title of the Anvil & Blacksmith following the purchase of the premises in 1871. (61)

A rather amusing, if macabre, event associated with the Anvil concerns a local seafarer, residing in Knottingley, who in August 1864 made a coffin for himself. Constructed of red deal, painted and with a gilt bordered lid, complete with a sliding panel which when drawn back revealed a pane of glass allowing the face of the deceased to be viewed. The lid was also inscribed with the seaman’s name, together with the date of the coffin’s construction (12-8-1864). The coffin was exhibited within the Anvil Inn for a period of time where it no doubt achieved its purpose of drawing curious customers to the inn. The subsequent use to which the object was to be put in the event of the death of the owner while at sea, or if indeed, he carried it onboard with him, is not recorded. (62)

An inn first mentioned in the 1870s but probably of earlier origin is the Potters Arms. (63) Indeed, a deed of 1839 concerning property at the Holes, Knottingley, may refer to the inn which although not named as such, does name sundry persons who are known at a subsequent date to have been associated with the inn which was also on occasion referred to as the Pottery Arms. (64) For instance, it is known that the site of the inn was land owned by Edward Tomlinson, the Ferrybridge Pottery owner whose executors were still in possession of the inn in 1887. (65) Tomlinson was one of the parties named in the document of 1839, as is Sarah Masterman, whose family are associated with a small pottery situated in the Holes and may be the premises occupied by Robert Wrigglesworth, potter, in 1879, at which time there was a minor legal dispute concerning damage to [beer?] crates owned by Robinson who may have supplemented his income by holding a beerhouse licence. (66) Knowledge concerning the inn is sparse but it remained in existence until the renewal of the licence was refused in July 1907, at the end of which month the premises were closed. (67)

The Wheatsheaf Inn, in common with the Red Lion and the Limestone (Lamb) inns, was originally a farmstead. Situated at the corner of Chapel Street, next to St. Botolph’s Church, the premises became a beerhouse about 1840 for the owner, William Knapton, is not named in the list of beerhouse proprietors of 1838 but does feature in that of 1848. (68) Although the nominal owner in the 1857 Rate Book, the inn is recorded as being "in hand", suggesting a transitional phase following the recent death of William Knapton. (69) The theory is reinforced by the fact that the 1859 Rate Book, whilst showing William’s widow, Elizabeth, as the owner, records one S. Lightowler as the publican. (70) Lightowler’s tenancy seems to have been fairly short, however, for by the mid 1860s the landlord was Charles Knapton. (71) The entry of Charles Knapton was probably marked by a change in the name of the inn for by 1871 the premises are listed as The Sailors Home. (72) The name change reflects the transition of the township from a predominantly agricultural economy to one dominated by the maritime trade which by the third quarter of the nineteenth century was at its zenith, a fact which had not gone unobserved by Knapton who astutely sought to capitalise on the change. The Sailors Home continued in the ownership of the Knapton family until early 1902 when the property was sold by the trustees of William Knapton. (73)

The predominance of the maritime trade is also reflected in the name of the Lime Keel Inn which first appears in records about 1870. (74) At that time the inn is variously referred to as the Limekiln (which may be a typographical error based upon a mishearing of the name) and the Keel Inn. (75) A deed of February 1870 reveals that the Lime Keel was situated on the site which had but recently formed part of the Mariners Arms Inn (76) and must have been opened within a couple of years of the closure of the inn, although as late as 1882 the Lime Keel was only accorded the status of beerhouse. (77) Despite its antecedent title the Lime Keel was established at a time when the township was about to enter into a second phase of economic development characterised by the rise of the glass container industry and the gradual decline of the maritime trade,. Indeed, the inn was to owe much of its future prosperity to the custom afforded by the glassworkers employed at the nearby works of Bagley & Co.

From earliest times inns had provided recreational activities as an adjunct to refreshment and relaxation and local houses were no exception. (78) It is known that bear-baiting took place on the green in front of the Dog (& Gun) and the Wagon & Horses had an adjoining cock pit. (79) Similar activities, together with recreational pursuits more acceptable to late twentieth century society, such as skittles, bowls, darts, dominoes and cards, were doubtless a feature of other inns within the town. (80) Indeed, most pubs today retain dominoes and a dart board although cards are anathema, being associated with gambling and therefore, in company with dice, pitch and toss and other games of chance, were proscribed by the late nineteenth century, having previously been a common feature of public house activity. (81)

In addition, local inns had frequently provided venues for social functions; official, semi-official, commercial and informal by nature. For instance, a coroners inquest was held at the Royal Oak in 1864 concerning the death of a man killed by a fall of stone in a nearby quarry. (82) Less formally, but no less official, it was resolved in June 1842 that"Members of the [Select] Vestry meet at Robert Hall’s sign of the Greyhound at 5-00p.m., Thursday next to value the new erections in the Township." (83)

Local inns were frequently used as venues for public auctions (84) and provided regular and occasional meeting places for organisations such as savings clubs, building and friendly societies and the emergent trade unions. The Local Authority kept a careful check on such activities for both fiscal and social reasons. In June 1843, the Select Vestry resolved that"W. Clayton and all others who received money out of the Dog [Inn] Club be stopped [from receipt of Parish Relief] for a season." (85)

The existence of such money clubs was a common feature of public house life by the mid nineteenth century when the first fruits of material prosperity combined with the doctrine of self-help to shape the national psyche. A money club is recorded at the Rising Sun in 1852 (86) and another, known as the Victoria Society was still in existence in 1872. (87)

A club room was a feature of the Boat Inn later in the century (88) and other local inns offered facilities for use by trade unions and other social groups. The towns’ glassmakers are known to have met for their annual feast at the Cherry Tree in 1873 (89) and it is interesting to note that these fraternal gatherings were financially subsidised by Carters Brewery Co., in order to draw such meetings to their tied houses, the Bay Horse and the Wagon & Horses being additional venues for the glassmakers annual gatherings on subsequent occasions. (90) The Brewery company itself made use of the function rooms offered by their undertenants and the annual supper for the Brewery workers is on record as being held at the Cherry Tree, (91) Bay Horse (92) Anchor Inn, (93) and Railway Hotel (94) amongst others.

The next significant phase of public house development within the town occurred in the decades following the conclusion of the Second World War. Many changes took place during the interregnum, including the disappearance of many long established public houses. Such developments form the basis of a later chapter but an incident which occurred in 1879 provides an apt coda to the departing era, revealing a lingering element of the time-honoured, casual system of organisation which was about to be swept away by the demands of modernity.

Officially, any person wishing to open a beershop was required to formally notify the Select Vestry of the town by posting a notice of intent upon the door of the Parish Church. William Fozzard, whose family had early and long-established connections with beershop proprietors, duly posted his notice but was refused the desired licence, having attached the document to the door of Christ Church instead of that of St. Botolph’s. (95)

Terry Spencer, 1998



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