Knottingley and Ferrybridge Online West Yorkshire
Amazon Advertisements
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


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



Ferrybridge War Memorial

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. To this end, a war memorial committee was formed with the aim of raising money to enable a suitable monument to be designed and erected.

The committee was under the chairmanship of Mr. E.L. Poulson, proprietor of the West Riding Pottery, Ferrybridge (1) with Mr. E. Broadley as Vice Chairman. The other members of the committee were Mesdames E. Bell, G.W. Bell, O. Briggs, T. Booth, R. Firth and Misses K. Boden and E. Roberts. The committeemen were Messrs. O. Briggs, E. Skinner, H. Bloor, F. Hodgson, B. Mollett, (?) Foster, and Captain G.W. Bell, the latter being the Secretary and Treasurer. (2)

A newspaper report in November 1920 revealed an ongoing series of fund raising events with the object of attaining the sum of £300 for a permanent memorial to the

"dear lads who gave their all in the great struggle for freedom."

The most recent effort was a concert in the crowded village schoolroom on the previous Monday evening at which various artists gave their services voluntarily. At the time of the report about half the required sum had been raised via promissory or actual donations. (3)

The sum of £250 was eventually obtained by a combination of individual subscriptions and public events such as galas, concerts, whist drives etc., but there was still an outstanding sum of £100 at the time of the inauguration of the Memorial on Sunday 9th October 1921.

Designed and erected by E. Paver & Co., of Selby, the monument was an obelisk of Aberdeen granite some 6 feet in length standing on a rectangular base, making an overall height of 13’ 6". On the face of the obelisk was carved a wreath and a sword and on the base in letters of lead were the words

"Lest We Forget"

above which in raised granite figures was the date "1914 – 1918". The die of the obelisk provided the space containing the names of the 38 servicemen who had forfeited their lives in the war.

In beautiful weather a large concourse assembled at the site near the foot of the Aire bridge, close to the junction of the new road to Castleford, to witness the unveiling and dedication of the Village Monument o Sunday 9th October 1921.

A procession formed at the Ferrybridge Council Schools about half a mile south west of the site, marched to the Monument headed by Knottingley Silver Prize Band led by bandmaster Samuel Marshall and followed by civic and military dignitaries, a contingent of 80 ex-servicemen under Sergeant Hines (K.O.Y.L.I.) and representatives of local social groups and organisations.

Upon arrival at the Memorial, the main platform was occupied by a group consisting of Colonel and Mrs Moxon, Colonel and Mrs Beadon and Miss Crossland, the Mayor of Pontefract, Alderman T.J. Sides, JP., CC., Captain G.W. Bell, Mr. E.L. Poulson, Rev. Canon Atkinson (Rural Dean) Rev. A.H. Lees (Vicar of Ferry Fryston) Rev. W. Salisbury (Wesleyan Minister Knottingley) Captain Forward (Knottingley Salvation Army) Mr. T. Smith (Prospective Labour Party Candidate) and Mr. E. Jarvis and Mr. W. Lingard (Parish Councillors) and Mr. W. Swaine (K.U.D.C. Clerk)

On a second platform assembled a choir of adults and schoolchildren under their conductor Mr. James Wright, while in a reserved enclosure sat the relatives of the fallen and a group of ex-servicemen. Next to them seats had been reserved for the bandsmen, members of the St. Johns Ambulance Brigade, Boy Scouts and others from the procession. Grouped around the enclosure stood members of the general public.

The ceremony closely followed that conducted at Knottingley a fortnight earlier and commenced with a short prayer by the Vicar which was followed by the hymn ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’. The Rev W Salisbury then delivered a further prayer and spoke the words of the 23rd Psalm. Two further prayers were followed by the public recitation of the ‘Lords Prayer’. Captain Forward then read the Lesson, Revelations vii. 9-17, which was followed by the official Silence after which the hymn ‘On Resurrection Morning’ concluded the service.

The unveiling by Colonel Moxon commenced with the words

"To the glory of God and in proud and grateful memory of the Men of Ferrybridge who gave their lives for King and Country in a Righteous Cause, I unveil this monument in their honour. May it be kept in hallowed remembrance."

The dedication of the memorial by Canon Atkinson was concluded by buglers Simpson and Dailey of Pontefract Garrison sounding the Last Post and Reveille followed by the singing of the hymn ‘Peace, Peace, Peace’.

On behalf of the Memorial Committee, Captain Bell then formally handed over the Memorial to the keeping of the Parish Council forever and this was received by the Chairman of the Council, Mr. E.L. Poulson with thanks to the Committee and all concerned.

Next followed an address by Col Moxon which in context and sentiment echoed that delivered at Knottingley previously. Following the Address, a benediction was delivered by Canon Atkinson and the formalities concluded with the mass singing of the National Anthem.

Thereafter, more than fifty tokens of remembrance were laid at the foot of the Memorial by relatives of the war dead. Such was the degree of interest and emotional duress engendered by the occasion that many members of the public were still present at the site at eventide. (4)

The removal of Ferrybridge Church to a more centralised and accessible site within the village in 1952-53, prompted the possibility of relocating the war memorial within the church grounds, a consideration made the more desirable by the increased volume of traffic noise and fumes close to the original site of the Monument engendered by the increasingly busy A1 road. Cr R. Wilson raised the subject in the appropriate K.U.D.C. Committee meeting (Ferrybridge forming a ward of the Knottingley council by this time) which instructed the Surveyor to enquire into the matter and report back (5)

After exhaustive and somewhat protracted research, the Surveyor reported in late September 1956 that as the War Memorial was erected by means of public subscription, the council had no jurisdiction in the matter and consequently nothing further could be done. (6)

As a consequence of the K.U.D.C. policy of wholesale demolition of property in Knottingley and Ferrybridge from the middle of the following decade a decision was taken to re-site the Memorial. A new site on the north side of the junction of Fishergate and the High Street, close to the newly constructed Community Hall was approved by the Council in Autumn 1967. (7) The work was put out to tender and a quotation of £97-17-0 submitted by H. & H. Fairbairn of Knottingley was accepted later that year. (8) the reconstruction of the Memorial took place the following year.

Ferrybridge branch of the Royal British Legion endorsed the re-siting and fully appreciated the efforts of the local council to maintain the site. In November 1968 Mr. E.M. Austin wrote an appreciative letter to the K.U.D.C. thanking them for all the care and attention given to the War Memorial site throughout the year (10) In spring 1970 the council acceeded to a written request from Ferrybridge Branch British Legion that the surrounding flower beds be planted with blooms in the legions colours of blue and gold to commemorate the golden jubilee of the organisation. (11)

Terry Spencer


  1. Pontefract Advertiser 15-10-1921 p6
  2. P&C Express 19-11-1920
  3. Loc cit 14-10-1921 p6 & Pontefract Advertiser 15-10-1921 p1
  4. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1956-57 Housing Highways Lighting and Allotments Committee Meeting 25-6-1956 p33, p53 & p195
  5. Loc cit 24-9-1956 p81
  6. P&C Express 5-10-1967 p4
  7. Loc cit 2-11-1967 p24
  8. Although closed from November 1968, it was not until 1970 that work commenced on the demolition of Christ Church c.f. loc cit 6-3-1969 p19, 13-6-1969 p12
  9. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1968-69 Public Works Committee Meeting 20-11-1968 p216
  10. Loc cit 1970 –71 Public works Committee Meeting 21-4-1970 p336
  11. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1970-71 p336 Meeting of Public works Committee 21-4-1970



Site constructed and maintained by Michael Norfolk
This website is Copyright © 2000-2011 [Knottingley and Ferrybridge Online] All Rights Reserved