Also by Terry Spencer
The following studies by Terry Spencer are now available on the Knottingley
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
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.
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.
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
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
Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History
KNOTTINGLEY PUBLIC HOUSES & BREWERIES
circa. 1750 – 1998
by TERRY SPENCER B.A.(Hons), Ph D. (1998)
THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY 1900-1945
By the turn of the century family entertainment was a regular feature
within the town. Magic Lantern shows, ‘rag and stick’ theatre and
cinematograph performances were held in the Town Hall and other venues
such as the Wesleyan and Congregational Schoolrooms. In 1913, the
opening of the Palace Cinema in Aire Street, provided a nightly source
of cheap, wholesome entertainment. (1)
In an effort to combat the adverse effects of such social diversions
local publicans devised various tactics to stimulate trade. Upon taking
up the tenancy of the Wagon & Horses Inn in 1908, James Holgate
introduced weekly cinematograph shows. The performances continued for
the next four years until, in 1912, the West Riding County Council
refused to renew the licence for such entertainment for fears for public
safety arising from the introduction of more stringent fire regulations.
At the Lime Keel Inn, the landlord sought to retain the valued custom
of the local glassworkers by preparing and selling pickled snails, a
delicacy favoured by the artisan glassblowers as a means of preventing
throat ailments caused by the heat of the hot blowing irons. The defunct
lime quarries in the locality ensured a plentiful supply of snails which
were willingly collected by schoolboys who were paid a penny per
bucketful by the enterprising publican. (3)
Mention has been made of the way hotelliers of the town stressed the
respectability of their premises by emphasising their suitability for
patronage by families and commercial gentlemen. The point was given
added emphasis by the landlord of the Railway Hotel who in 1904 added
"Home Comforts" to the multiple services offered by his establishment.
In addition, recreational facilities in the form of billiards were a
feature of the house. (4)
Knottingley Brewery, sold by George William Carter in 1892 and
reconstituted as a public limited company trading under the Carter name,
continued the policy of public house refurbishment begun by Carter.
However, the impact of social change, together with the legislative
constraints introduced by both Liberal and Conservative parties, spelt
doom for some local public houses as trade declined to unviable levels.
As early as 1892, the Royal Oak had been closed and when, as the
result of the enactment of a Conservative sponsored Bill, compensatory
payments for public house licences suppressed by local authorities was
legalised in 1904, others followed suit. The licence of the Anchor Inn
was transferred to the Lamb Inn that year and in 1908, the brewery
company transferred the licence of the Ship Inn to their newly opened
Minsthorp Hotel, South Kirkby. Both the former inns were closed. The
Rising Sun which stood on the site of the later Hill Top Workingmens’
Club, itself rebuilt and presently defunct and boarded up, closed in
December 1907. Thereafter the former inn premises became a general
provisioner’s shop for many years before finally being condemned as
unsafe and demolished in 1943. (5) A further inn which underwent
transformation was the Jolly Sailor. Refused a licence in the early
1920s, the premises were reformed under the publican-owner, Edwin Dey,
as the Foundry Lane Club, under which name it flourishes today, albeit
affectionately referred to as ‘The Jolly’. (6)
The advent of the Great War of 1914-1918 and the sudden and forceful
imposition of regularised opening hours, increased prices and weaker
beer, eventually induced further closures. In 1927 the Greyhound closed.
The inn had passed from the ownership of John Carter’s third wife by her
death in January 1907, to the brewery company who had long rented the
premises. The Company had in turn sold the property in 1913 but the
premises continued to be used as an inn until the late 1920s. The
property was resold in July 1932 being described as "formerly an inn",
at that date. (7) The Bee Hive was also closed in the mid 1920s as the
onset of post war economic depression began to bite. The premises were
sold in 1926 and were for many years used as an office for a private
company. The property fell into a state of dereliction when the company
became defunct about 1950, and was demolished some years later.
From the mid twenties a demographic shift occurred within Knottingley
as the local council began to construct new public housing estates to
the south and west of the town. The public houses, patronised by the
inhabitants of the still densely populated central areas of the town in
which they were located, nevertheless suffered a gradual diminishment of
custom as people were relocated to the developing council estates.
Whilst many were willing to make the journey from their new homes to
their former locals, others were unwilling to do so, particularly as no
public transport connection existed between the two areas of the town.
(8) In an effort top tap the potential custom of the large residential
areas, in March 1939, Bentley’s Yorkshire Brewery obtained a provisional
licence for the construction of a new public house at the junction of
Spawd Bone Lane and England Lane. When the Second World War commenced in
the September of that year, the building was abandoned at foundation
level. The site proved an unofficial adventure playground for a
generation of local children until the 1950s when work recommenced and
the inn was completed.
Meanwhile, as the war pursued its slow but inexorable course, plans
were laid to build a second public house to serve the Broomhill estate
and neighbourhood. The site chosen was Long Racca, a field situated
along the western edge of Womersley Road, lying next to the railway
crossing. The owners were the Tadcaster Brewery Co., who had obtained a
provisional licence for the public house in 1939. Owing to the
exigencies of war, however, permission to build was delayed until March
1942. The inn was completed shortly afterwards and although it commenced
trading before the end of hostilities, was formally opened on Victory
Day, May 1945. Amidst much secrecy and speculation the inn was
appropriately named as the Winston Hotel. (9) The euphoric opening was
somewhat marred, however, when on the opening evening a customer fell
over the low wall forming the boundary between the hotel frontage and
the much lower ground level at the rear of the wall. The fall caused the
death of the customer and as a result the boundary walls were increased
to their present height.
Terry Spencer, 1998