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'S CONNECTION WITH THE STATUE OF THE BLACK
by TERRY SPENCER B.A. (Hons), Ph D.
Copyright ©Terry Spencer, January 2007
As a child during the period of the Second World War, en route to visit
my maternal grandparents who lived a few miles beyond Leeds, I was
fascinated by the huge statue of the Black Prince (1330-1376) which
dominated Leeds City Square.
I knew that the Black Prince was the eldest son of King Edward III and
a man of valour who against all odds had beaten the French at the Battle
of Crecy in 1346. To my childish mind the statue which symbolised
chivalry and courage, epitomised the spirit of the British nation in
those dark days.
Knowing nothing of any link between the prince and the City, I assumed
that the statue was a mute yet eloquent testimony to a historic
connection. Many years later I was disabused of the assumption when I
learned that the Prince's connection with the city was non-existent and
that the only link with Yorkshire in general was both tenuous and
posthumous, his son, Richard II, being murdered in Pontefract Castle
following his deposition in 1399.
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.
The statue was the brainchild of Colonel Thomas Walter Harding J.P.,
erstwhile Lord Mayor of Leeds, who in 1902 conceived the idea of a
grandiose centrepiece for the recently constructed plaza in the city
At his own expense, Harding commissioned Thomas Brock R.A., to create
an equestrian statue of the Black Prince. Objections were raised, for
while the Prince's military prowess was undisputed it was justifiably
claimed that he was an incompetent and autocratic administrator who
hardly represented the concept of democracy and civic virtue which
underlay the aspiration of Leeds following conferment of city status a
decade earlier. Such considerations were, however, brushed aside.
The sculptor decided to have the bronze statue cast at a foundry in
Antwerp, Belgium, from where it was duly shipped on the deck of a
steamer in a sturdy wooden crate measuring 18' x 5'11'', arriving at
Hull docks on the 22nd August 1903.
Considerations of cost effectiveness, smooth transit and efficiency,
resulted in the decision to transport the statue by barge along the Ouse
to Goole and thence by the inland waterway system to Leeds.
Transhipment of the cargo from the steamer to the barge was not
without drama. Fear that the statue might be broken while being hoisted
by steam crane into the hold of the barge caused the dock management to
decline to load the cargo unless indemnified against potential damage.
Harding's assurance being obtained, the crate was loaded into the hold
of one of the fly boats belonging to the Aire & Calder navigation
Fly boats were 'dumb' barges of substantial carrying capacity. First
used about 1821 as horse-drawn passenger vessels, they were increasingly
towed by steam tugs from 1830 and following the introduction of the
railways, used principally as cargo boats.
Master of the unnamed barge used to transport the statue of the Black
Prince was Joseph Boulton. Born at Knottingley in 1855 and raised in the
family home at Canalside, near Racca Green, Boulton followed the family
tradition and became a mariner. At the time of the 1881 Census, although
Joseph's mother still lived at Knottingley, he and his wife, Mary
Elizabeth, (nee Brown, of Fowey, Cornwall), were resident at Hull, his
occupation being recorded as fly-boat mate. Sometime later, however,
Boulton was promoted to be one of the Navigation Company's bargemasters
and in this capacity he was given the grave responsibility of commanding
the maritime aspects of the conveyance of the statue of the Black
The crate conveying the statue was lowered into the hold of Boulton's
barge, described solely as the "prince's state barge", with the head of
the charger facing the stern of the craft. Harding, evidently, regarded
this fact as rather ominous and insisted that the cargo be reloaded with
the horse's head facing the bow of the barge. The wily Company Agent
prevailed upon Boulton to turn the barge round so that the horse faced
upstream and the first leg of the journey was underway.
The journey from Hull to Goole was accomplished in a little over five
hours. Moored overnight at Goole docks, the second phase of the voyage
commenced early the following morning. Members of the public, aware of
the significance of the journey, are reported to have gathered at
appropriate places en route to cheer the mariners and their cargo.
Boulton and his mate, whilst conscious of the honour bestowed, being
experienced crewmen of phlegmatic disposition, were said to have
regarded the valuable consignment as merely another cargo. The
sang-froid of the seamen must have undergone a degree of discomposure,
however, when their arrival at the destination point was greeted by a
large crowd of cheering onlookers.
A low bogey, normally used to transport large boilers, was employed to
transport the statue to the Vity centre from the New Dock Basin, off
Clarence Road. In view of the nature of the load it was deemed
appropriate to dispense with the traction engine and a team of six
horses was harnessed to pull the statue to City Square on Monday 31st
August 1903. On Wednesday the 16th of September, 100,000 people
assembled on the site to witness the official opening of the City
As for Boulton and his shipmate, they received oblique and anonymous
praise in the Press which declared, ".. it is meet that the care
exercised by the Aire & Calder Navigation Co., in transporting the
statue from Hull to Leeds should be acknowledged... having delivered the
valuable work without a scratch..."
The Company directors, flushed with the pride and prestige accrued
from their success, decided to forego their charges. The opinion of
Joseph Boulton is unrecorded but he must surely have experienced a
vestige of pride which devolved however vaguely, through succeeding
generations of his family to claim renewed attention today.
©Terry Spencer January 2007
The events described in the above article by Terry Spencer are based
upon the essays by William Scott entitled 'Colonel Harding and the Black
Prince', contained in 'Aspects of Leeds 2', and published by Wharncliffe
Books 1999. p101-108.