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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


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


Knottingley War Memorial in 1921 Knottingley War Memorial in 2004
Knottingley War Memorial
depicted in 1921
Knottingley War Memorial
depicted in 2004

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. (1)

The conflict had begun on the 4th August 1914 and by late 1917 negotiations to end the war were being conducted. However, the terms were unacceptable to the Germans and deadlock ensued so that it was not until 3rd October 1918 that final negotiations recommenced, resulting in the Armistice of 11th November 1918.

So immense was the slaughter arising from the war and so great both the individual and collective trauma engendered by awareness of the scale of the losses that it is hardly surprising that the purpose of those in attendance at the inaugural meeting of the Memorial Committee preceded the onset of the final negotiations to end the terrible conflict. (2)

The meeting, under the chairmanship of Mr. S.B. Bagley, Chairman of the K.U.D.C, was attended by representatives of the Council and sundry organisations within the township of Knottingley. In addition to councillors J. Jackson, T. Worfolk, J. Sprotson, B. Arnold and J.A. Goodwin, there were the respective incumbents of the two town parishes, Rev. F.E. Egerton of St. Botolph’s and Rev. A. Barraclough of Christ Church, East Knottingley. Egerton, one of the two Poor Law Guardians of the township, was accompanied by his fellow Overseer J.W. Bentley, while Mrs T.W. Coates and Mr. J.H.Harrison represented the Local Education Committee. Mrs E. Cramp, a local teacher, represented the Town Committee. Others in attendance were Mr. J.T. Gowland of the Trade and Labour Council and Messrs. B. Lawson and H. Buckley, representatives of the Society of Oddfellows. The rival Order of Buffalos was represented by Mr. F. Wood.

The agenda of the Memorial Committee was confined to administrative detail. The Town Clerk, Mr. Walter Swaine, was appointed Secretary with Burton Arnold as his assistant. Mr. T. Worfolk, Vice Chairman of the Council, was appointed as Treasurer of the Memorial Committee.

A proposal was made that all teachers within the town be co-opted to the Committee together with the principals of local companies and also several individual tradesmen. There was scope for wider public participation, however, for the gathering expressed the hope

"..that all residents will do their part in making the memorial a lasting source of pride to everyone concerned."

The meeting then adjourned until January 1919. (3)

By the 3rd January 1919 when the Memorial Committee reconvened, its membership had risen to about fifty persons representing various civic and social groups within the town.

The formalities concluded, the attention of the Committee turned to consideration of the form the proposed memorial was to take. The Rev. H. Snowdon, who had succeeded Rev. Barraclough at Christ Church, considered that a park was the most suitable memorial and suggested that a monument be erected within the parks confines bearing the names of the fallen. At that date Knottingley had no public park and as Snowdon’s suggestion had the merit of combining communal respect with public utility his view was well supported.

Early in 1919, Knottingley Council had proposed that all suggestions regarding the form of the memorial should be forwarded to Rev. Barraclough but it is interesting to note that proponents of the two principal ideas, a playing field and a swimming baths, did not confine their views to the reverend gentleman but in an effort to disseminate such views amongst the wider population, used the columns of the local press thereby hoping to shape public opinion. Indeed, in one instance subtle pressure was applied, ostensibly to the richer element within the town but to Mr. A. Jackson, owner of the Green House Fields, more particularly, by stating that

"The Green House Fields would be ideal. If some public spirited citizen with the means would present it to the town the general public might subscribe to a monument of some sort to be erected as one of its chief ornaments. Such a gift would be a fine act of generousity and a memorial worthy of the gallant Knottingley lads…" (4)

The Green House Fields was the site most favourably regarded for the purpose. Situated between Spawd Bone Lane and Hill Top, the land had originally formed part of the town’s open-field system from medieval times before passing into private ownership after which it was excavated for the underlying limestone. By the turn of the twentieth century the site was long worked out and the land was utilised for grazing livestock, being part of the pastureland of the nearby Green House Farm. The Memorial Committee therefore resolved that the Secretary approach the executors of the estate of the late William Jackson in order to ascertain if they would be prepared to receive a deputation comprising Messrs. Bagley, Worfolk and Egerton, with a view to discussing the purchase of the land. Meanwhile, it was suggested by the Chairman that a series of sub-committees, such as sports and entertainment committees, be formed to assist the Ladies Towns Committee in order to raise money towards the cost of the Memorial. (5)

The fund raising activities were soon underway. At a further meeting held on the 24th February 1919, Mr. C. Poulson presented a cheque for £45, being the proceeds of a fancy dress ball held in aid of the Memorial Fund. The success of the event prompted the suggestion that the secretaries of local sports clubs and similar organisations be invited to send representatives to a meeting with a view to establishing a sub-committee to organise sports, carnivals and other outdoor entertainments during the summer months in order to swell the Fund. (6)

At the same meeting however, a letter was read from Mr. C. Jackson in which it was stated that he could not consider selling the Green House Field at that present time. It was therefore resolved that the group previously nominated to meet Mr. Jackson be empowered to approach the owners of Brewery Field, or any other possible site in the event of negotiations with Mr. Jackson failing.

Early in May the Chairman was able to report to a meeting of the Memorial Committee that while the delegation had met with a definite refusal to sell the Green House Fields, Mr. Jackson was prepared to sell the Hall, grounds and a group of houses named Jacksonville, as a complete lot. (7) It was decided that the grounds would provide a good natural park and the Hall could be converted into billiards, reading and games rooms. In addition, the premises would provide space for the township office. Committee members therefore decided to view the property and approach the Council at the next general meeting having meanwhile obtained a price from Jackson. With this in mind the Committee decided to call a public meeting to obtain popular support for its proposals. (8) The Committee unanimously resolved to inspect the premises on Saturday 10th May and also resolved that Mr. Jackson be asked to state a price for which he was prepared to sell the plot of land in his possession known as Greenhouse Close. It was then confirmed that the public meeting be convened for the purpose of approving the Committees proposals regarding the War Memorial. (9)

Before the public meeting took place a written offer was received from Mr. Jackson to sell the Hall and grounds for £5,000, the hall having been withdrawn from an auction sale only a month or so earlier when no purchaser could be found. (10) As the sum was not available to the Committee at that time, Jackson was requested to extend his offer for a period of one month. The delay enabled the Committee to present the original and an alternative scheme to the public. At the Towns Meeting held on the evening of 26th May the attendance was surprisingly small, however the public unanimously endorsed the original decision to purchase the Green House Fields and the meeting was then adjourned. The insertion of a public notice in the local press by Mr. T. Worfolk, K.U.D.C. Chairman, ensured a large attendance when the meeting was reconvened on the 2nd June. (11) A letter from Mr. G.W. Hobman was read suggesting that the committee consider the purchase of a house and adjoining land situated at Racca Green, belonging to Miss Thwaites, as the site for a memorial pleasure ground. Other proposals included swimming baths, almshouses, library, district nurse service and a concert fund. (12)

Following a resume by Mr. S. B. Bagley regarding the offer of the Hall and the financial implications of its possible purchase, the scheme was unanimously rejected. A proposal by Rev. Egerton, seconded by Mr. G. H. Cockroft, that representations be made to the Council seeking examination of its powers to enforce compulsory purchase of the Green House Fields together with Greenhouse Close, was however, accepted.

The Rev. Snowdon, seconded by Bagley, moved an amendment that enquiries be made concerning the suitability of Miss Thwaites property and its possible acquisition. The amendment was carried by 24 votes to 15. Further proposals were then voiced, one being that almshouses be provided for widows of men killed in the war but this move was blocked by the adoption of an amendment that the whole matter be referred back to the War Memorial Committee for further consideration. (13)

At a further public meeting on the 13th June, it was reported that two letters had been received from local citizens suggesting the purchase of fields adjoining the Green House Fields, belonging to Mr. J. W. Bentley. (14) It was decided however, that further representations be made to Mr. Jackson regarding the purchase of the Green House Field and Greenhouse Close in view of the expressed desire of the inhabitants of the town. (15) It was also resolved at the same meeting that an approach be made to Miss Thwaites and to Mr. Bentley to ascertain their willingness to sell land in their possession.

The result of the meeting of the delegation and Jackson was an agreement by the latter to sell Green House Field and Greenhouse Close for the sum of £1,700, subject to certain conditions. Thus, at a subsequent meeting of the Memorial Committee held on 7th July, it was resolved that the Council be requested to call a meeting of the town’s ratepayers to obtain approval of the Committee’s plan to obtain the land, the principal consideration being the form the actual monument bearing the names of the dead should take.

The overwhelming desire for a public park as a suitable setting for a memorial reflects the underlying wish on the part of the people of Knottingley for such a memorial to have an element of public utility. Many local communities, particularly small rural communities, adopted schemes such as village halls, clocks, gardens, lychgates and similar forms, the common denominator being a memorial combining public utility. It is not surprising, therefore, to note an approach to the Knottingley War Memorial Committee by the Young Men’s Christian Association who in July 1919, through its representative, Mr. Lancaster, sought an interview in order to lay before the Committee a plan for the establishment of a Y.M.C.A. hostel within the town as a memorial to the fallen.

The Y.M.C.A. was particularly active in seeking to persuade local councils to adopt its scheme for memorial hostels but such schemes met with a mixed degree of enthusiasm within the area adjacent to Knottingley.

At Pontefract, the Y.M.C.A. scheme was carried amidst much controversial discussion but ultimately came to nothing and it was not until 27th October 1923, that a War Memorial was unveiled at Pontefract. (16) In Featherstone where a War Memorial Committee held a public meeting in the Regents Street Girls School in February 1920, a proposed Y.M.C.A. scheme costing an estimated £10,000 was rejected almost unanimously, as also were plans for a cottage hospital, maternity home and an ambulance station, the public favouring a monument at Purston Park which the local council was at that time seeking to purchase. (17) At Castleford, however, the Y.M.C.A. proposals met with favour and following a public meeting in the Queens Theatre, it was announced that the Castleford and District Y.M.C.A. premises would be opened by Countess Fitzwilliam on the 28th February 1920. (18) However, a memorial in the form of a small hospital was eventually opened in Castleford it was only following its conversion to other usage and its eventual demolition that the town acquired a monument, a war memorial being dedicated as recently as September 2000. (19)

At Knottingley, the Committee, whilst sympathetic to the ideals of the Y.M.C.A. and not averse to providing practical assistance if possible, nevertheless regarded the possibility of such assistance as a secondary aim rather than an alternative to the original proposal. An element of the Committee therefore considered it most practical to defer any supportive action until the amount raised by public subscription was known. A second group thought it expedient to invite Mr. Lancaster to attend the following Committee meeting to discuss his proposals in more details. Yet a third element, led by the able and forceful Rev. F. E. Egerton, was the most fervent in its desire to see the proposal for a memorial park brought to fruition. The latter group therefore proposed that the whole matter concerning the invitation to Mr. Lancaster be deferred until a later date to enable detailed consideration to be given to his scheme. The delaying tactic of the group was thwarted, however, when a vote of the Committee members decided by 16 votes to 12 that the Y.M.C.A. representatives be invited to attend the following Committee meeting. Thereupon, Egerton sought to neutralise the effect of the decision by framing a resolution that the K.U.D.C convene a meeting of the towns ratepayers to give approval to the plan to convert the Green House Fields to parkland containing a war memorial bearing the names of the town’s war dead. Thus by capitalising on the strength of public feeling within the town as expressed in the earlier public meetings, particularly with regard to the recording of individual names which was dear to the hearts of the townsfolk, the Egerton faction forced the pace of development concerning the original scheme and upstaged the adoption of any alternative plan. (20) The effectiveness of the stratagem is indicated by the absence of any record of subsequent meetings or discussions regarding the Y.M.C.A. proposals.

There is an ironic touch to the attempt by Egerton to forestall alternative forms of memorial within the township for in June of the following year he was party to a decision to install a stained glass memorial window, at a cost of £200, in St. Botolph’s Church and a smaller one within Christ Church. (21)

Of passing interest is the decision by K.U.D.C. about that time to present illuminated scrolls to all local men

"who gained distinction in the Gt. War."

A somewhat discriminatory decision suggesting, however unintentionally, that participation in the terrible conflict was not sufficient to itself merit distinction.

Meanwhile, the memorial park scheme was endorsed at a public meeting at which it was suggested that the council be requested to accept the property and assume responsibility for its maintenance in perpetuity. The council indicated its willingness to comply with the request providing that the property was handed over to them in

"proper order and condition."

It was therefore suggested that a deputation from the Memorial Committee meet with the council to discuss details. (22) The deputation consisting of Rev Egerton, J. W. Bentley and P. Thompson, met the full Council in special session on the 13th August 1919. The council imposed four conditions:

  1. That the War Memorial Committee hand over the property to the council fully paid for, including legal expenses.
  2. That the committee satisfy Mr. Jackson’s requirements
  3. That the committee erect and complete the memorial monument
  4. That the committee invest any surplus subscriptions in the Council’s name to be applied to the maintenance and upkeep of the property. (23)

The imposed terms were subsequently accepted by the Memorial Committee and a public appeal was launched with the aim of raising £5,000. (24)

The appeal was afforded an encouraging start when the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. S.B. Bagley, announced that his firm, Bagley & Co. Ltd., Glass Manufacturers, would pledge the sum of £500. The announcement drew a response from Mr. J.W. Kipping who promised an equal sum on behalf of Stainsby & Lyon Ltd., the local tar distillers with whom he was associated. A further donation of £100 was pledged by Mr. J. W. Bentley while Mr. T. Worfolk promised a personal donation of £10. (25)

Subject to a satisfactory arrangement with the vendor concerning certain conditions of sale it was agreed to purchase the land at a cost of £1,700 and in order to aid the public appeal it was decided that a weekly list of subscribers be published in the local newspapers. It was further decided that individual appeals be made to all local societies and organisations and that each be provided with collecting tins and receipt books to enable ongoing subscriptions to be made. (26)

Other fund raising activities were organised. The Towns Ladies Committee made arrangements to hold a jumble sale in one of the towns schools on the 4th October and arrangements were also made with Mr. George Howdle, Manager of Knottingley Town Hall, for use of the main hall every Wednesday fortnight and the last Friday of every month between September and Christmas in order to hold a series of entertainment’s and public events. (27)

Meanwhile the deputation met with Mr. J.C. Jackson and his solicitor and made some progress toward completion of the sale so at a subsequent Committee meeting it was decided to engage Messrs. Carter, Bentley & Gundill as legal representatives of the Committee.

Upon examination of the Contract of Purchase by the newly appointed legal advisors however, it was found that certain clauses were unsatisfactory, being of a disadvantageous nature to the purchasers.

Jackson wished to retain a right of way for the transit of livestock and vehicles through the land to be purchased and also expressed reservations concerning a boundary wall. Renewal of formal negotiations to resolve the deadlock proved unsatisfactory to both parties and although further representations were made on an informal basis the effort was to no avail. In February 1920, the Memorial Committee resolved to refer the matter to the K.U.D.C., asking if the Council was prepared to accept the land under the terms imposed by the vendor. (28) As a result of this approach the legal representatives of the Memorial Committee were asked to liase with Messrs Bromet & Sons, solicitors for Jackson, to formulate an amendment draft to be submitted for the consideration of the Committee and the Council. At a subsequent Committee meeting the members were of divided opinion concerning the acceptability of the amended contract. A resolution in favour of purchase was countered by an amendment from Rev. Egerton, seconded by Mr. Kipping.

"That the committee do not accept the amended contract."

The amendment was carried and once again the wily Egerton forced the issue to a conclusion by proposing that the Council use their power of compulsory purchase in order to acquire the land for the purpose proposed by the committee and sanctioned by the townspeople. (29) The Council however felt unable to comply with the recommendation of the Committee and Jackson, incensed by the high-handedness of the Committee was alienated to the point where he not only broke off negotiations but also with drew the promise of a substantial subscription to the memorial fund. (30)

The problem of finding an alternative site for the memorial now arose and it was decided to approach the Aire & Calder Navigation Co. and ask for the donation of a parcel of land forming part of the quarry bottom situated in front of the Town Hall. A simultaneous approach was also made by Egerton to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with a view to the granting of a suitable site. To illustrate the setback to the original scheme was not an indication of weakening resolve on the part of the Memorial Committee, the Secretary was instructed to contact the secretary of the Leeds War Memorial Committee concerning suitable designs for the proposed monument.

The protracted negotiations concerning the purchase of the Green House Fields had caused the local fund-raising effort to lose momentum whilst the abrupt end of the negotiations concerning the acquisition of the land resulted in some suggested modification of the original scheme with surplus funds to be applied to the establishment of a District Nurse Service. Consequently, the question arose as to whether those who had pledged or donated subscriptions to the original concept would agree to the modified proposal. It was therefore decided to write to all subscribers to ascertain whether the sums promised would still be forthcoming in view of the changed circumstances. The problem was further aggravated by the recent death of Mr. T. Worfolk, Treasurer of the Memorial Committee, who had been succeeded by Mr. J. F. White. (31) Apart from the minor irritation that all Committee receipts required amendment to reflect the change of names, a problem arose concerning sums donated to the Appeal Fund via Worfolk but which remained unbanked at the time of his demise and were therefore legally regarded as a constituent element of the late treasurer’s estate and as such had to await the settlement of his affairs. (32)

Despite such setbacks, the efforts of the Memorial Committee to find an appropriate site for a war memorial continued. In November 1920, the Secretary reported that the Aire & Calder Navigation Co. had calculated that 8,000 cubic yards of space would have to be filled on the site opposite the Town Hall from which limestone had been excavated to a depth of about 30 feet by an earlier generation, if the monument was to be placed there. Furthermore, it was estimated that it would take in excess of a year to furnish material to fill in the quarry site. The major drawback concerning utilisation of the quarry site however, was the additional cost of building retaining walls along the canalside, which would meet the requirements of the Navigation Co. Despite such constraints an element of the Memorial Committee wished to pursue the possibility of using the site. The offer of three possible optional sites however, provided a degree of flexibility. Mr. John Jackson, former Chairman of the K.U.D.C. and head of the glassworks situated at Quarry Gap to the West of the town, offered Vale Head Field as a possible site, (33) while the Vicar and Churchwardens of the parish of St. Botolph also made an offer of land. In addition, Carter’s Knottingley Brewery offered the site occupied by the Bowling Club, situated adjacent to the brewery and standing alongside Weeland Road at a point opposite the Green House Fields. (34)

The site offered by the church group was situated between the Town Hall and St. Botolph’s Church at the junction of Hill Top and Chapel Street and like the nearby canal side site was part of a worked out lime quarry. (35) The cost of back-filling and preparing the site was less expensive than that estimated for the canal side site, however, while the centralised position gave the Chapel Street site a distinct advantage over the more peripheral Vale Head site on the western edge of the town. The offer of sites made by the Aire & Calder Navigation Co., Jackson Bros., and Carter’s Knottingley Brewery Co., were politely declined, therefore, and that offered by the Church Authorities was accepted.

The problem of the siting of the monument being solved, consideration could henceforth be given to the design and cost of the War Memorial. It was decided to advertise for a design costing within the range £1,200 - £1,500. (36) Early in November 1921, the Treasurer reported that £700 had already been donated and it was therefore decide to contact local firms and solicit definite subscriptions. (37) As a result, within the space of a single week several written assurances were given. Stainsby & Lyon promised £400; Carters Knottingley Brewery £50; Gregg & Co., Hope Glassworks, £25 and T. Brown & Sons Ltd. Ferrybridge Pottery, £10. Several small miscellaneous donations were also received and brought the Memorial Fund balance to £819. (38)

Meanwhile, a sub-committee of four members had staked out a portion of land forming part of the old Towns Quarry (39) whilst another, six-member, sub-committee was appointed to examine plans and estimates. (40) In January 1921, the latter group invited the local monumental mason G. H. Fairbairn, to provide details and specifications of his design, this being the most favoured of the three received for the sub-committee’s examination and submitted them for consideration by the Memorial Committee. (41)

Fairbairn’s design consisted of a granite column with a figure of ‘Victory’ on the top and the names of the fallen on the base panels. One source described the symbolic figure as representing the ‘Angel of Peace’ who with outstretched wings held in one hand a trumpet heralding peace and in the other the wreath of victory. (42) Some individuals and local organisations, influenced no doubt by the Leeds War Memorial, expressed a desire that the symbolic figure proposed by Fairbairn be replaced by that of a soldier. To this effect a proposal was made by Mr. F. Hargraves when the Memorial Committee met on 21st January 1921. The fact that the proposal was unable to find a seconder did not however, prevent a written submission by the Soldiers & Sailors Association requesting that the figure of ‘Peace’ be replaced by that of a soldier, being made to the committee. (43) At the prompting of Rev Egerton a reply was sent stating that the order had been placed for a monument incorporating ‘Victory’, thereby diplomatically preventing further consideration of the subject and the likelihood of further delay. (44)

At the same meeting another suggestion that Fairbairn’s original design for a chain surround, supported by four short corner posts, be replaced by a palisade fence was also rejected. In addition, it was decided that the names of the dead should be superimposed rather than incised on the base panels of the monument. (45)

By the spring of 1921 comprehensive efforts were underway to ensure that all individuals of the town who had died in action during the wars were commemorated. (46) In mid-January the Treasurer was able to report guaranteed sums of £200, pledged by Robinson Bros., tar distillers, and £50 by Jackson Bros., glass manufacturers, and the organisation of a house to house collection by Mrs Cramp and the ladies of the town. (47)

The Memorial Fund it was stated stood at £1,046 and it was agreed to release £400 to Mr. Fairbairn for work already done. (48) It was also agreed to call in sums previously pledged by principal subscribers within the town in order to make money available for future payments, including the provision of iron railings and gates on the west side of the monument in order to allow access to St. Botolph’s churchyard. (49) A further last minute decision to include the rank as well as the name of each serviceman was taken at this time. (50)

Provision having previously been made to convey the site of the memorial to the K.U.D.C. to ensure its future maintenance (51) arrangements were now made for the civic unveiling of the memorial when completed.

The time of the unveiling was set for 3.00 pm on Sunday 25th September 1921. It was resolved to write to Colonel Moxon, G.M.C., D.S.O. (T.D), and invite him to unveil the monument. A detachment of military personnel including buglers from Pontefract Barracks, was asked to accompany Col. Moxon and invitations were also sent to the District Soldiers & Sailors Association requesting all ex-servicemen to attend. Local clergymen of all denominations were asked to provide an interdenominational service for the occasion. (52) Arrangements were also made to complete the house to house collection before the ceremony and it was stated that of £1,824 subscribed, a balance of £1,398-8-5d remained following recent payments of which a further sum of £800 was shortly to be released to Mr. Fairbairn. (53)

At the meeting of the sub-committee held on 9th September 1921, the final arrangements were made. Mr Sammy Marshall, Bandmaster of Knottingley Silver Prize Band, was asked to lead the band, all being dressed in uniform, at the head of the procession and also play the accompaniment to the hymns during the service of dedication. Local choirmasters were requested to make arrangements for their choirs to attend and lead the singing at the commencement of the service. In addition, the Commanding Officer of Pontefract Depot and his fellow officers were invited to attend the ceremony and a letter was despatched to the local constabulary seeking assistance of the police and special constables. (54)

The dedication of Knottingley War Memorial The Dedication of Knottingley War Memorial in 1921
Knottingley War Memorial
Service of Dedication Sunday, 25th September 1921

On the day of the unveiling, the various elements gathered at the Town Hall for the formation of the procession. The route was through Aire Street and then via Cow Lane and Weeland Road to the War Memorial at the top of Chapel Street. The band led the way followed by Col. Moxon, who incidentally had suggested the procession, followed by Council Members led by Cr. G. W. Reynolds, Chairman and members of the War Memorial Committee. Next followed a contingent of 100 ex-servicemen marshalled by ex regimental Sergeant Major George Barker, and they were followed by members of Knottingley Ambulance Brigade, Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts and Girl Guides and representatives of other local organisations. The rear of the procession was brought up by the Salvation Army Band under the baton of Bandmaster Roberts.

The road at the northern end of Chapel Street had been blocked off by drays, which served as a platform for the singers. An enclosure had been reserved for the immediate relatives of the deceased servicemen adjacent to the official enclosure, which was festooned with shrubs and lamps. Other members of the public stood in the remaining space near the monument in a crowded but orderly fashion, occupying the entire area between the north side of the Town Hall and the St. Botolph’s Church Parish Rooms.

Behind the enclosure occupied by the relatives of the fallen, on a raised dais, were seated Colonel and Mrs Moxon, Captain Percy Bentley, M.C., Captain Thompson, D.S.O., of the Pontefract Depot, Yorkshire & Lancashire Regiment, and Lt. (Dr) Hirst, Royal Army Medical Corps, all the military men being in uniform. The civic representatives were Cr. Reynolds, Chairman, K.U.D.C., S.B. Bagley, Chairman, War Memorial Committee. The Rev. F.E. Egerton, Vicar of St. Botolph’s, Rev. H, Snowdon, Vicar of Christ Church, Rev. W. Salisbury, Wesleyan Superintendent Minister, and the aptly named Captain Forward, Salvation Army, completed the ranks of the assembled dignitaries.

Reporting the event, the local paper stated that both sexes of all ages and social station were represented amongst the immense gathering with many of the relatives, including the children, wearing the medals of their departed loved ones.

Then followed a

"Beautiful, simple, appropriate service, carried with the utmost reverence."

A united choir conducted by a local headmaster, Mr. Jackson Morris, and accompanied by the Silver Prize Band, led the singing of the hymns and the prayers were conducted by the attendant clergy. An act of remembrance,

"two minutes impressive silence"

with the military at attention and the civilian men bareheaded, preceded the unveiling of the monument by Col. Moxon who laid a laurel wreath on behalf of the Memorial Committee inscribed

"In glorious memory of the Knottingley men who fell in the Great War"

Buglers, Jolly and Macnamara of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry regiment, Pontefract Barracks, then sounded the Last Post and Reveille.

Speaking from the platform, Col. Moxon said that sincere congratulations were due to the inhabitants of the town for the zeal, patriotism and loyalty they had shown during the horrible days of the war. The monument was both graceful and symbolic and the site could not be improved upon. It was not sculpture or art that counted, however, but the sentiment of honour to the fallen and the spirit of grateful thanks that through their sacrifice victory was gained. Speaking of the vivid memories evoked for himself and all others present that day, Moxon stated that they were not gathered to mourn but to honour the memory of the fallen. Moxon then graphically revealed the grim statistics arising from the recent conflict. Of six million sent from Britain one in every twelve lost his life, a quarter of the combatants were wounded and in many cases permanently disabled so that at that date there were a million men in receipt of pensions and needing support and encouragement to enable them to find occupations suitable to their various incapacities. The speaker concluded by reminding the assembled crowd how close to defeat the nation had been on at least three occasions during the war and of the consequences such a defeat would have meant for that and future generations, and he urged upon them the need to strive for industrial peace as the reward of victory.

On behalf of the War Memorial Committee, Mr. S. B. Bagley, J.P., then formally handed over the War Memorial to the Knottingley Urban District Council to safeguard for the township and Cr. G. W. Reynolds, Chairman of the Council, accepted the monument in the name of the people. Reynolds declared that hearts were too full of gratitude to the fallen men to warrant speeches but sincerely thanked Bagley, the Secretary and all members of the Memorial Committee who had worked so hard to obtain subscriptions to enable the memorial to be constructed. Reynolds also added an appreciative acknowledgement of the local builder, Mr. G. H. Fairbairn, who had devoted so much time and labour to the design and erection of the monument, for which he had received not a penny extra. It was pleasing to have someone within the town capable of such work said Reynolds and he tendered his thanks on behalf of the townspeople. The National Anthem was then sung, after which the relatives of the fallen placed floral tokens around the base of the memorial, followed by wreaths and flowers laid by more than fifty members of the general public.

Not unnaturally, the event was one of considerable emotional stress, particularly for those for whom the awareness of the loss of a loved one was heightened by the occasion. The distress was further intensified by the compact nature of the assembled crowd and consequently the members of the contingent of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade were called upon to tend a number of cases of fainting and exhaustion.

The proceeding were supervised by the local Special Constables who, wearing distinctive armlets, undertook the marshalling of the people under the leadership of their Commandant, Mr. James William Bentley and their Leader, Mr. Percy Bagley.

Nor should the effort of the joint Hon’ Secretaries of the War Memorial Committee, Mr Burton Arnold and Mr. Walter Swaine, (also clerk to the K.U.D.C.) be forgotten in not only directing the arrangements for the ceremony but also supervising the distribution of in excess of 2,000 copies of the Order of Service together with the issue of 600 tickets bearing special invitations. (55)

The original intention of having the War Memorial photographed in advance of the ceremony in order that it could feature on the front of the official programme proved to be impractical owing to the composition of the paper selected for the programmes. A local artist, Mr. R. Jackson, was therefore commissioned to make a sketch to illustrate the front cover of the programme. However, at a meeting of the Memorial Committee held on the 15th September 1921, to approve the arrangements of the sub-committee, it was decided to sanction better quality paper for the programmes to enable a photographic reproduction to be made. Accordingly, Charles Maude & Co., of Pontefract, was engaged to produce the official photograph for the programme and also to provide a photographic record of the unveiling ceremony.

The unveiled memorial revealed an inscription on the front pedestal, which read





The monument bore the names of the dead on panels above, occupying three sides of the memorial. It is significant to note that of the towns population of about 6,500, some 1,400 served in the armed forces during the course of the war, of which number 197 were killed and many more injured. An editorial in the local paper the week following the dedication ceremony acknowledged both the enormity of the loss and its consequences

"The impressive proceedings witnessed at the unveiling of Knottingley town’s war memorial on Sunday last will long live in the memories of many inhabitants of the old town. Knottingley sent its full quota of help…It also lost, alas, its full share of brave and loyal men, many of whom were the prop and stay of the household – for each of whom some mourn…Let everyone bear in mind also that the survivors of those who fought for us have the strongest possible claim upon all, not only for sympathy but for practical assistance."

Following a successful and emotionally charged ceremony all that remained was to wind up the business of the Memorial Committee and its sub-elements. It is clear however, that as late as January 1922, the necessary funds were still unobtained, for a press notice that year stated that whilst the Committee was anxious to complete its work more money was required and that donations should be forwarded to the home of the Treasurer, J. W. Kipping. (57)

The final Committee Meeting took place on the 17th August 1923, with Mr. S.B. Bagley in the chair. The Treasurer reported total receipts of £1,900-0-3 and payments of £1,875-13-10, leaving a balance of £24-6-5. The actual cost of the monument was £1,781-5-0. Half the balance was handed over to Knottingley Dispensary Committee and the other half to Leeds General Infirmary after provision had been made for the printing of a detailed balance sheet for public circulation. Following the meeting a public notice was also inserted in local newspapers providing itemised details of receipts and expenditure as audited by Mr. Tom Green, then Secretary of Carter’s Knottingley Brewery Co. Ltd. (58)

Little did anyone realise that the recently concluded hostilities were merely a prelude to a further conflict and that within the space of a generation an equally wide-ranging war of even longer duration would occur, no less devastating to the bereaved survivors. Indeed, the trauma was the more pronounced as the advent of the long-range bomber brought first-hand experience of warfare to the civilian population.

However great the human sacrifice, memories fade and within a decade there were signs of indifference by an element of the public and even a degree of irreverence on the part of the post war generation.

A report in the local press in 1929 stated that Knottingley’s schoolteachers were unwilling to muster their pupils to attend the annual remembrance service at the War Memorial. The terms of the Education Act of 1870 stipulated that no child could be withdrawn from school for the purpose of attendance at a religious service. It was therefore necessary top grant a half day’s holiday to enable pupils to be present at the service whenever Remembrance Day coincided with a school day. As the granting of a half day holiday resulted in its subtraction from the teachers annual holiday entitlement whilst being a de facto working day, the teachers refused to co-operate with the Local Education Authority. The refusal prompted the Vicar of St. Botolph’s, Rev. F.E. Egerton, to write to the press and demand an explanation for the impasse. (59)

Attendance at the Service of Remembrance by the towns children was indeed essential as the significance of the War Memorial and the ritual of annual observation was becoming lost on an element of the younger generation within a decade of the end of the Great War. Following a minor act of disrespect by a group of schoolchildren in 1927, the Council requested local schools to impress upon their charges the symbolism and significance of the War Memorial. (60) It was probably this action which, commencing the following year, led to the muster of pupils at the War Memorial on Armistice Day for a special service and ultimately prompted the refusal of the teachers to participate in 1929.(61)

That misbehaviour by youngsters was not new even in 1927, is shown by the wording of the Council resolution

"That Head Teachers of local schools be asked to again lecture as to proper observance of the War Memorial." (62)

Again, at the service held on Armistice Day, 1933, attended by local troops of Guides, Scouts and many school children, Rev. Egerton was at pains to explain the purpose of the service for their instruction. (63)

A generation on, it was again reported that children were playing on and adjacent to the War Memorial and concerned local councillor's resolved to ask head teachers to assist the Council in preventing such inappropriate conduct. (64)

An intrusive element of commercialism also became apparent in the late 1920s. An advert of the period read

"Smokers of Players’ Navy Cut cigarettes are reminded that Monday, November 11th, is Remembrance Day and are requested to buy a Flanders Poppy on that day." (65)

Nor was the annual practice of selling poppies to raise funds for the War disabled and their dependants via the Earl Haig Fund devoid of cynical abuse as illustrated by a letter sent to the Pontefract & Castleford Express by Captain W.G. Willcox (sic), Organising Secretary, Appeal Dept., British Legion, London, which refers to ‘Spuious poppies’ sold for commercial gain by unscrupulous elements, and advising the public that authentic poppies were distinguished by a special metal centre bearing the words ‘Earl Haig Fund’. (66)

In an editorial in November 1927, the local Express noted the prevailing public mood, stating that the

"immensities of sacrifice tend to become deadened with the passage of time."

and asked

"why rake up again all the pity and pain of it?" [i.e the War]

before concluding that there was no harm and possibly some good in recalling the meaning of war when it is brought right home to the public. (67)

Whether the editor considered the validity of the silent screen as a medium for bringing the meaning of war ‘right home’ is unrecorded but that the anguished immediacy of past events was becoming transmuted into a more desensitised, impersonal form of remembrance is seen in the same issue of the paper. A somewhat lurid advertisement for the Crescent Cinema, Pontefract, offered


Programmed to coincide with the Armistice observation, the film was stated to contain "Drama, Thrill and Comedy [??] Tanks, Mud, Men, Guns." To augment this entertainment it was further stated that

"For the benefit of many patrons SPECIAL EFFECTS will be used, including a certain amount of GUNFIRE"

The extent to which the week long showing of the film reflects the insensitivity of vested commercial interest or a measure of apathy and public indifference is conjectural but to further whet the appetite, an appendage noted that the film was to be shown at the Albion Cinema, Castleford, during the week following. (69)

It was about this time that the settlement of the purposely infilled site of the War Memorial necessitated a degree of maintenance to the monument and its surroundings. In November 1929, the Council asked the Surveyor to instruct Mr. H. Fairbairn to repair the surrounding wall as necessary and also to arrange to have additional names attached to the Memorial. (70)

It is not known whether the additional names were those of ex-servicemen who had died subsequently from illness or injuries sustained in the Great War or if, as at Newmillerdam, Wakefield, next of kin had initially exercised an option not to include the name of deceased kindred but subsequently undergone a change of mind. (71)

With regard to compilation of the initial list of deceased servicemen the situation is somewhat confused. At a meeting of the War Memorial Committee on the 14th March 1921, it was agreed that the Chairman, Mr. P. Bagley, would obtain a list of the parishioners of the west parish (St. Botolph’s) and Mr. B. Arnold, those of the east parish (Christ Church). Mr. Humphries and Mr. Harrison would ascertain the names of the fallen from the Wesleyan and Congregational Churches respectively and Mr. Rush, those of the local railway employees. (72) Such piecemeal activity was conducive to errors and omissions and therefore at a subsequent meeting it was decided that the Town Ladies’ Committee

"be asked to canvas the Town for names of the fallen." (73)

a measure which seems to have been adopted to ensure the inclusion of any names previously overlooked by the sectional compilers. A final vetting of the complete list of names to feature on the Memorial was undertaken by a special two-man sub committee consisting of Mr. F. Hargrave and Mr. P. Thompson, established under the aegis of the Council. (74)

An initial consideration was the possible inclusion of men who had enlisted at Knottingley whilst residing elsewhere and who therefore might feature on the memorials of other localities. It was therefore decided to make enquiries further afield to avoid any duplication. (75)

A case in point concerned Sergeant H.R. Barker, the name of whom it was reported was to be included elsewhere. However, a resolution was ultimately passed

"That H.R. Barker’s name be placed on the Memorial altho’ his name will appear on the Wakefield Memorial." (76)

In the event Barker’s name was not included on the Wakefield Roll of Honour. (77)

A further point which required consideration by the War Memorial Committee was whether the names of the dead should be prefixed by rank. Some members considered that as all had made the same sacrifice all ought to be afforded equality in death. Again, it was decided to make enquiries regarding the practice in neighbouring districts. On that basis a decision was eventually taken to include ranks. (78)

Toward the time of the completion of the Memorial consideration was given to the appearance of the area immediately surrounding the monument. The original scheme submitted by Mr. G. H. Fairbairn proposed four corner posts adjacent to the Memorial but this feature was rejected in favour of two circular flower beds situated at either side. (79)

Despite the adoption of the War Memorial, the local Council does not appear to have tended the garden plots for in 1929 the clerk was asked to find out who had arranged the flower beds and convey the thanks of the Council. It was simultaneously resolved that in future the Council would attend to the planting out. (80) It is also from this time that the Council assumed responsibility for removal of old wreaths and flowers placed at the foot of the Memorial. (81)

The advent of the Second World War and the imminence of invasion following the retreat from Dunkirk, raised new problems for the Council which, in June 1940, instructed the Surveyor to consult with Messrs. H & H. Fairbairn as to the most effective way of covering the name of Knottingley on the Memorial and thus deny locational identity to any invading foe. (82) There is no record of any response and the writer who lived in the town at that time (albeit as a small child) has no recollection of any practical action being taken. It seems most probable that following the successful outcome of the Battle of Britain and its effect in thwarting the threat of invasion, no further action was required to efface the towns name.

During the course of the Second World War, Knottingley War Memorial served as a focal point for social cohesion and religious observation, particularly at times such as annual ‘War Savings Week’ when the local community participated in a series of events, a feature of which was a church parade with the War Memorial serving as a saluting base. (83)

Again, the aftermath of the war was a further list of fatalities to be added to a monument raised ironically to commemorate sacrifice in the ‘war to end war’. To the total of dead of the Great War were added sixty names of those who died in World War II. (84) The dedication at the front of the War Memorial merely required the addition of a single letter ‘s’ to change the noun ‘Great War’ to a plural form, plus the date 1939 – 1945, to enable the fallen of both conflicts to be commemorated.

However, following the conclusion of hostilities, consideration was given to the provision of a separate memorial to the dead of the Second World War. To this end a public meeting was held in Knottingley Town Hall on the 3rd February 1946, to discuss what form the Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memorials should take. A representative gathering of the organisations and public of the two communities favoured the establishment of a sub-committee with a brief to fully examine the options and report back as soon as possible. The sub-committee chairman was Cr. P. Gross with Cr. H. Gregg as Vice Chairman, together with the Town Clerk, Mr. H. Brummitt, Treasurer, and Messrs. J. Talbot and W. Leadbeater, auditors. Mr. J. Plewes was the Hon. Secretary.

Following the deliberations of the sub committeemen it was recommended that the names of those killed in action during the recent war be added to those of the Great War already displayed on the local memorials. (85)

The proposal was not adopted immediately however, for in September 1948, a further committee was formed consisting of Cr. A. Reynolds (Chairman K.U.D.C.) and Councillor's G. L. Creaser, W. Burdin, G. M. Davies, J. E. Durkin, J.P., S. Gregg, and P. Gross. The new committee was established to meet representatives of Knottingley and Ferrybridge British Legion and discuss the commemoration of persons who died in the 1939-45 war. (86)

The probable delay was due to legal technicalities for the 1923 Local Powers Act required amendment before alterations could be made to existing war memorials. A less formal consideration but one equally constraining given the austerity of the immediate post war period was the shortage of materials.

At a subsequent meeting in August 1949, the Clerk reported on the outcome of the joint deliberations which had been held on the 28th July, at which it was decided that the K.U.D.C. Chairman should inaugurate a district appeal for £200, the estimated cost of adding the names on the respective memorials. (87) The action was approved by the Council and by early October 1949, the Chairman, Councillor G. L. Creaser, was able to report that the sum of £239-16-0 had been subscribed to the appeal. (88)

At a General Meeting of the K.U.D.C. on the 4th April 1951, the Town Clerk read a letter from Creaser, dated 4th March, in which he stated that his appeal had raised £210-5-1. Of the sum stated, £173-8-11 had been paid as expenditure regarding the inscriptions, leaving a balance of £36-6-2 which Creaser proposed to donate to the Knottingley and Ferrybridge Old People’s Entertainment’s Committee. In this the Council concurred and agreed to send a formal letter of thanks to the ex-Chairman. (89)

The choice of Cornish Granite as the material for Knottingley War Memorial proved to be a judicious one and throughout the years of its existence the Monument itself has suffered little deterioration. Depreciation has been largely confined to the names featured on the base, which in some cases have been rendered almost illegible.

Staining on the upper part of the column due to the oxidisation of the bronze figure at the top, has marred the appearance of the monument to some extent. In addition, the concrete plinth of the surrounding area, together with parts of the perimeter wall had by the 1980s become badly cracked and unsightly, detracting from the overall appearance of the site.

As early as 1968 the Town Clerk reported a complaint from a local citizen that the roots of the trees adjacent to the War Memorial were undermining the site and causing fissures in the area around the Monument. (90) The Council therefore requested the Engineer and Surveyor to inspect the site and report back. In the light of the subsequent report however, it was decided that no further action be taken. (91)

In 1971, it was decided to clean the Memorial at an estimated cost of £98, a decision that was prompted in part by the piecemeal efforts of various individuals to clean parts of the Memorial, often using inappropriate materials for the purpose. (92) As the site in general was left untouched, however, an increasing degree of unsightliness developed over the following decade. Early in 1982 therefore, the local branch of the British Legion made formal representation to the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council which had superseded the K.U.D.C. as the body which, in accordance with the War Memorials (local Authorities Powers) Act of 1923 and subsequent amendment of 1948, was nominally responsible for the maintenance, repair, protection and alterations to all public war memorials. No action was taken however, and by April 1984, the boundary wall of the Memorial was in need of such urgent repair that the Chairman of the Finance & General Purposes Committee had to authorise immediate repair and seek retrospective approval by the Council for his action. (93)

The desired total refurbishment was however, the subject of much delay due to the financial constraints experienced by the Local Authority arising from the policies of the government of that period. Nor was the (by now) Royal British Legion able to finance the project as its Charter of Incorporation excluded the use of Legion Funds for anything outside their direct application for the benefit of ex-servicemen and their dependants.

Again in 1994, the local branch of the British Legion through their representative Cr. G. Clarke, requested attention to the problems caused by subsidence which was undermining the base of the Memorial and also suggested that in the course of refurbishment it would be appropriate to construct a ramp to enable wheelchair access to the Memorial.

The subsidence was caused by the further settlement of the original backfilling undertaken when the former Towns Quarry was partially infilled to provide the site for the War Memorial. In addition, the root systems of the trees close to the enclosing wall. Together with lack of an adequate drainage system had contributed to movement of the foundations, causing fissures in the wall. Inspection of the site also concluded hat there was insufficient space for the creation of the proposed ramp and that the work necessary for the creation of such would prove detrimental to the surrounding concrete base area.

The somewhat disfiguring green stain caused by water seepage from the bronze figure atop the Memorial was also considered. When the Memorial was professionally cleaned earlier it was found that the porous surface of the granite had absorbed the oxidised water and caused a permanent stain on the upper part of the stonework. The damaged appearance had been exacerbated by subsequent attempts to remove the stain. It was therefore adjudged that whilst treatment to the figure on top of the Memorial would slow down the staining process it was unlikely to eliminate it and would therefore constitute a long term risk of increasing unsightliness.

Seasonal tending of the flowerbeds of the Memorial was abandoned following a reduction of £50,000 in Local Authority spending in 1997. Low maintenance shrubs such as ferns, evergreens and flowering heather’s had been introduced in the hope that these would mature into attractive plants. In support of this measure it was claimed that such plants had formed part of the original layout. By the following year however, growing expressions of public concern were being voiced regarding the impaired appearance of the Memorial. Following representations by Knottingley Councillor's and Yvette Cooper, the constituency Member of Parliament, a formal survey of the site was undertaken on the orders of Cr. M. Taylor, Chairman of the W.M.D.C. Health and Environmental Services Committee, and a report prepared. All aspects were considered but it was stated that no funding was available from central government and that other than on grounds of public safety, the responsibility for maintenance under the 1923 and 1948 acts was nominal, not compulsory. It was further revealed that the current maintenance budget was inadequate for its supposed purpose. Of the annual sum of £2,910 provided for the repair and upkeep of 23 district war memorials and 24 public clocks, £1,400 was taken by routine work and inspections, leaving only £1,500. Repairs to war memorials was of necessity selective, undertaken in accordance with the adjudged urgency of each case. (94)

The report concluded by stating that

"..a full refurbishment of the Knottingley memorial is unlikely in the foreseeable future." (95)

A rumour of Millennium funding prompted a letter from Mr. H. Johnson, Hon’ Sec’., Knottingley Royal British Legion, to Cr. P. Box, and ultimately resulted in the total refurbishment of the surrounding area of the Memorial by the District Council. (96)

The raised semi-circular concrete plinth with its two small circular flower beds, was removed and replaced by a double arc of inset brickwork of a mellow, honey hue. The memorial, situated centre-front of a crescent shaped surround abuts a segmented section of brickwork at a slightly lower level and set at a gradual incline to allow easy access for the disabled or infirm. To either end of the paved area there are broad flower beds which, following the curved arch of the bricked base, taper and join to provide a slender cultivated strip to the rear of the Monument, the whole set out with small plants, forming a tasteful and appropriate surround to the Memorial for which the designers are to be complimented.

On Sunday 4th June 2000, the Service of rededication took place. The occasion was marked by a short parade of representatives of the Royal British Legion, Air Cadets, Ambulance Service, Police and ladies drawn from the social and voluntary services within the township. The ubiquitous Knottingley Silver Prize Band, as ever, responsive to the civic needs of the town, dignified the occasion, grouped to the northern side of the Memorial, playing the hymns for the service which was conducted by the Reverend Clive Flatters, Vicar of Knottingley. To the south of the Memorial stood the civic dignitaries, Ms. Yvette Cooper, M.P., Councillors G. Burton and G. Clark and Mr. S. Smith, Royal British Legion County Field Officer.

It is a matter for regret that one must record that although invited by the local Secretary of the Royal British Legion, the Mayor and Mayoress of the District Council did not attend nor, if their absence was unavoidable, did their deputies.

The ceremony was attended by about fifty members of the public of whom a proportion was drawn from families of those commemorated on the Memorial.

Following a moving ceremony during which the Last Post was sounded by a bandsman of the Knottingley Silver prize Band, there was a public reception in the nearby Town Hall organised by the officers of the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

Dr. Terry Spencer

Knottingley Armistice 1935

Knottingley Armistice 1935


  1. P&C Express 20-9-1918 p2
  2. Loc cit 11-1-1918 p2
  3. K.U.D.C. council committee Book May 1911 – August 1923 (n.p) For names of committee members c.f  Pontefract & Castleford Express 17-1-1919 p3. Also loc cit 27-9-1918 p3
  4. Loc cit 13-12-1918 p5 & 29-11-1918 p5
  5. Loc cit 17-1-1919 p3 For details of Jackson's death and funeral loc cit 4-1-1918 p5
  6. P&C Express 28-2-1919 p3
  7. Loc cit 16-5-1919 p6 & 23-5-1919. The Hall, previously named Marine Villa, had been the seat of the Moorhouse family, part owners of Knottingley Manor, before being purchased by William Jackson following the death of William Moorhouse in 1865. In the closing decade of the nineteenth century Jackson had "cashed in" on the housing boom by using part of the grounds of the Hall on which to erect a row of terrace houses. Named as Jacksonville, the terrace was more commonly referred to by locals as ‘Long Row’ or, since the houses were open to the gaze of the passing traffic and pedestrians along Hill Top, more scurriously as ‘Gaping Row’
  8. K.U.D.C. minute book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting of Memorial Committee, 9-5-1919 Also c.f. P&C Express 30-5-1919 p6
  9. Loc cit 2-5-1919 p5
  10. Loc cit 16-5-1919 p6
  11. Loc cit 30-5-1919 p6
  12. Ibid
  13. Knottingley Select Vestry Minute Book ‘E’ (24-3-1882 – 2-6-1919) p99
  14. The letters were from Mr. G. Turton and Mr. G. H. Cockcroft, the latter eventually being co-opted onto the Memorial Committee
  15. K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1911-1919 (n.p) Meeting of the Memorial Committee 13-6-1919 At this meeting Mr. P Thompson was also appointed to the deputation to meet Mr. Jackson
  16. P&C Express 5-10-1923p5 & 28-10-1923 p8 & 19-4-10 p20
  17. Loc cit 6-2-1920 p7
  18. Loc cit 15-2-1920 p4 & 28-2-1920 For reference to neighbourhood memorials loc cit 1-7-1921 (Kippax) 22-7-1921 (Darrington) 16-9-1921 Ledsham, 17-11-1922 Beal & Kellington, 7-10-1921 Allerton Bywater
  19. Loc cit 28-9-00 p5 For letter dated 12-11-1933 deploring the lack of a War Memorial at Castleford, loc cit 17-11-1933 p7
  20. K.U.D.C. committee book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting of Memorial Committee 7-7-1919
  21. P&C Express 4-6-1920 p3
  22. K.U.D.C. Minute book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting of Memorial Committee 8-8-1919. Copy letter of confirmation from K.U.D.C. to Memorial Committee Chairman 15-8-1919
  23. Loc cit 15-8-1919
  24. ibid
  25. ibid
  26. ibid. the receipt books were pre signed by the chairman and the treasurer of the memorial committee and a list of accredited collectors was kept by the committee secretary
  27. Loc cit Meeting of the memorial committee 9-9-1919 George Howdle later became the proprietor of the Palace Cinema, Knottingley, having learned the business whilst manager oif the Town Hall where film shows were a regular feature. C.f  Spencer T. @The Palace Cinema, Knottingley’ (1999) pp5-8
  28. K.U.D.C. committee Book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting of Memorial Committee 13-2-1920
  29. Loc cit meeting of memorial committee 20-4-1920
  30. Loc cit meeting of memorial committee 9-7-1920
  31. ibid. For T. Worfolk’s obituary c.f. P&C Express 4-6-1920 p7
  32. Loc cit meeting of memorial committee 6-1-1921
  33. Loc cit meeting of memorial committee 19-11-1920
  34. Loc cit Meeting of memorial committee 6-1-1921
  35. The towns Manor house built by the Wildbore family had originally occupied the site. The house was later demolished to facilitate the excavation of the underlying limestone and the site was thereafter known as the town quarry c.f. Blanchard D (ed) ‘Knottingley: Its Origins and Industries’, volume II (1979) pp57-61. Also Forrest C. ‘Histroy of Knottingley’ (1870) p43 For details of the use of the site prior to demolition c.f Spencer T. Knottingley Public Houses and Breweries circa 1750-1998 (1998) pp19-24 passim. Also, Spencer T. A History of Carters Knottingley Brewery – Volume One: To Private Company 1800-1892 pp4-5 the Pontefract Advertiser 1-10-1921, ascribes the ownership of the site to the Aire & Calder Navigation Company.
  36. K.U.D.C. Committee Book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting of the Memorial Committee 19-11-1920
  37. Loc cit meeting of the memorial committee 6-1-1921
  38. Loc cit meeting of the memorial committee 13-1-1921
  39. Loc cit meeting of the memorial committee 19-11-1920 The members of the sub committee were JP White, P Bagley, J.W. Kipping and B Arnold
  40. Loc cit Meet memorial committee 6-1-1921 the sub committee members were JP White, P Bagley, J. Jackson, C. Poulson, F. Hargrave, and R. Jackson
  41. ibid
  42. Pontefract Advertiser 1-10-1921
  43. K.U.D.C. committee book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting memorial committee 7-2-1921
  44. ibid
  45. ibid
  46. The Knottingley vicars together with the nonconformist ministers were asked to provide denominational lists, as were various lay organisations within town, such as trade unions. The lists were checked against one obtained from the government pensions officer by Cr G.W. Reynolds, K.U.D.C. Chairman. Loc cit meeting of memorial committee 14-3-1921
  47. The towns Ladies committee had originated in the early days of the great war as the ladies cigarette and tobacco committee whose purpose was to provide such comforts for the armed forces. c.f. K.U.D.C. committee book 1911-1923 (n.p) Informal meeting K.U.D.C. 3-11-1915
  48. Loc cit meeting of the  memorial committee 7-2-1921
  49. ibid. at a meeting of the memorial committee 15-4-1921, railings and gates were priced at £74-10-0, with stone £32-10-0 and added labour. It was stated by the chairman SB Bagley, that St. Botolph's church would pay the whole cost of materials and labour.
  50. The list of individual names and ranks was submitted at a meeting of the memorial committee 19-4-1921
  51. Loc cit meeting memorial committee 7-2-1921
  52. Loc cit meeting memorial committee 19-8-1921
  53. ibid
  54. Loc cit meeting memorial committee 9-9-1921
  55. P&C Express 30-9-1921 p6 & Pont Advertiser 1-10-1921
  56. P&C Express 30-9-1921 p5
  57. Kipping had replaced JW White upon the resignation of the latter at a meeting held 15-9-1921
  58. P&C Express 21-1-1921 p6
  59. Loc cit 22-11-1929 p10
  60. Loc cit 4-11-1927. Also K.U.D.C.  minute book April 1927 – June 1929 Meeting of Highways and Lighting Committee Meeting 2-11-1927 p8
  61. P&C Express 18-11-1927 p8
  62. K.U.D.C. minute book 1927-1929 Hiogheays and lighting comm meet 2-11-1927
  63. P&C Express 17-11-1933 p8
  64. K.U.D.C. minute book 1956-1957 Highways Lighting and Allotments Committee meeting 24-6-1957 p37
  65. P&C Express 8-11-1929 p5
  66. Loc cit 4-11-1927 p7
  67. Loc cit 11-11-1927 p7
  68. ibid p6
  69. ibid
  70. K.U.D.C. minute book 1927 –1929 Highways and Lighting Committee Meeting 2-11-1927 p8
  71. I am indebted to Mr. J Goodchild, Goodchild Collection, Wakefield, for drawing my attention to the voluntary nature of the inscription at Newmillerdam
  72. K.U.D.C. committee book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting memorial committee 14-3-1921
  73. Loc cit 22-3-1921
  74. Loc cit 15-4-1921
  75. Loc cit 22-3-1921
  76. Loc cit 19-4-1921
  77. The Wakefield war memorial bears no names, the fallen of the city being recorded on a roll of honour kept in the town hall. Sgt Barkers name is not included
  78. KUDC committee book 1911-1923 (n.p) Meeting of the Memorial Committee 22-3-1921
  79. Loc cit 21-1-1921 & 4-3-1921
  80. KUDC minute book 1921-1931 Special meeting K.U.D.C. 31-7-1929
  81. KUDC minute book 1932-1933 Highways and lighting committee meeting 24-2-1933 p12
  82. KUDC minute book 1940-1941 Town Hall, Cemetery, and Playing Fields Committee Meeting 25-6-1940 p149
  83. P&C Express 6-3-1942 p7 ibid 19-3-1943, ibid 17-3-1944, ibid 12-10-1945. For details of Knottingley War Savings Weeks c.f. Spencer T. ‘Aspects of Local History’ (forthcoming)
  84. A total of 197 deceased was recorded at the time of the commemoration of 1921 c.f P&C Express 30-9-1921 p6
  85. Loc cit 1-2-1946
  86. KUDC minute book 1948-49 Gen meet of council 1-9-1948 p102
  87. KUDC minute book 1949-50 Gen meet of council 3-8-1949 p63
  88. Loc cit Gen meet of council 5-10-1949 p103
  89. KUDC minute book 1950-1951 Gen meeting council 4-4-1951 p252
  90. KUDC minute book 1967-68 Meeting of public works committee 21-2-1968
  91. ibid p370
  92. KUDC minute book 1971-72 Meeting of rating, Finance and General Purposes committee 21-7-1971 p82
  93. WMDC minute book 1982-83, Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting p845
  94. Report by M. Best, WMDC events officer dated 9-2-1988 and allied correspondence. I am grateful to Mr G Norton, Hon Treasurer, Knottingley Branch, Royal British Legion, for making this material available to me.
  95. ibid
  96. Letter from Mr. H Jackson, Hon Sec Knottingley Branch, Royal British Legion to Cr P Box, dated April 1999. I am indebted to Mr Jackson for his assistance and also to Mr G Norton for making this letter available to me.



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