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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories



Louisa Murgatroyd Miller was born at the Manor House, Knottingley on 12th January 1937 being the youngest of four children to Robert and Elsie. She had a brother Tommy who joined the Royal Navy in 1940 and two sisters Mirrian (the eldest) and Elsie. Her maternal grandparents owned the farm and Uncle Alfred, (her mother’s brother) a bachelor, also lived there. As a four-year-old she attended school in Chapel Street and at the age of seven would play with Margaret Law who lived in a cottage in Water Lane.

The following are some of the places and residents of Knottingley in the late 1940s as recalled by Louie who married Albert Hayes and now lives in Springfields, Knottingley. Her intimate knowledge of the area stems from the fact that as a youngster living at Manor Farm she delivered milk in the area for many years.


Louie went to school in Chapel Street, just round the corner from Petty’s Butcher shop, where the schoolteachers were Miss Wake, Miss Burton and Miss Mosby. A building attached to the school was a clinic used by a clinic nurse and doctors for children’s examinations and eye testing. It also served as an antenatal clinic where they sold baby foods and ‘National Dried’ baby milk powder. This was low priced and provided by the Food Office. Another building in the schoolyard was the Education Office employing about six people where Mr. Hall was Education Officer. There was also a caretaker’s house where Mrs. Thornton the caretaker lived.

Moving right from the school was a yard where Mrs. Meadows lived with her daughter Ivy, and in the corner house lived Mr. and Mrs. Nielson with their daughter Alice and son Dennis. Next door was the pawnshop occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Simpson with her son Keith, and next door lived Mr. & Mrs. Jackson. At the end of this row of cottages lived Mr. & Mrs. Ben Wiltshire. Next was an ice cream and sweet shop owned by Mr. & Mrs. Valente who had two sons. They made ice cream, but during the war it was only available on a Sunday as everything was very scarce. You had ration books and only so many sweet coupons were allowed so you had to save some for the following week.

Next to the shop lived Mr. & Mrs. Mattin who bred rabbits and sold them to people; they had two daughters and two sons. Next door lived Mr. & Mrs. Radley with Wilf who was a schoolteacher. At the end of these houses an archway led to a large piece of land behind, where there had once been a dovecote. Every few weeks the Bentley brothers conducted a sale of furniture, old paintings and any household goods or surplus belongings that needed to be disposed of.

On Chapel Street again was a cottage occupied by Mrs. Holman and her son Jim. The next building Norfolk House was rather large, being used for all kinds of functions. It was the meeting place for the Conservative Party, Town Woman’s Guild and Toc H, but I have no idea what this was. Then stood a rather large house where Mr. Bob Jackson and his wife and daughter lived. He had a decorating business but also did scenic paintings for his family and friends. After passing Hollingsworth Lane we came to the Vicarage where the Vicar Walter Musgrave lived with his wife together with their three daughters; Ruth, Anne and Mary. He was the vicar for St. Botolph’s as well as Christ Church in the Croft.

Those were all the families that lived in Chapel Street.


On the corner was a chemist shop where Mr. Cleaves lived. Next to him came Petty’s the butcher together with John and daughters Margaret and Joan. He had a grandson Richard about 5 years younger than me, the son of Joan. Next door was Mr. & Mrs. Ibbotson’s fish shop, they had two daughters Betty and Freda. Next door was Mr. & Mrs. Skelton together with Mrs. Skelton’s son Wilf Wright, and after them was my grandma Miller with sons George and John. George went in to the Royal Air Force, became a Squadron Leader flying Wellington bombers and was awarded the D.F.M.

To the front of these houses was Fred Furbanks bun and cake shop run by his wife Peggy after which was the Yorkshire Penny Bank. Next the Meadow Dairy, a grocery shop. The manageress was Miss Webb and also employed were Kathleen Birch, a girl from Stubbs and another girl Rita Barrett. Next Mr. & Mrs. Carver’s shoe shop, they lived on the premises with their two daughters Irene and Freda. After this was Vincent Morrells. He sold cattle food and grain from a large shop with a big cellar for the purpose. The goods were either winched up through a trap door or carried up the wooden steps in the shop floor. They had a son Tony and a daughter Diane, living in a rather large house with a big enclosed yard that stood back from the shop.

Crossing Back Lane we came to Mary Yardy’s pot shop. She was my aunt and sold a wide selection of pottery. She had one son Alfred. Her husband Tom was killed in Egypt in the First World War. Next was Frank Smith’s butcher shop owned by his father although Frank was in charge. Charlie Smith just sat there and looked after the money whilst Frank and his sister Hilda did the donkeywork. Frank had two sons Charles and Richard. Next was Alfie Spires paper shop which he kept with his wife; they had a son Paul and a daughter Jill. They sold newspapers, comics and cigarettes and even wallpaper when you could get hold of it.

Next to Spires was Wray’s greengrocery shop where they also sold fish and mussels. Monday was mussels day and they sold boatloads as well as fish roe and kippers. On Friday’s everyone bought fish; cod, haddock or plaice. Mr. & Mrs. Wray owned the shop and were helped by Mr. & Mrs. Jack Heath for it was always very busy. At the rear of this shop stood a cottage where Mr. & Mrs. Heald lived, both were members of the Salvation Army and Mrs. Heald iced cakes for weddings and christenings.

After Wray’s shop was the Corn Stores where you could buy bran, oats, wheat, cow cake and all sorts of poultry and cattle food. It was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Farrar and they also sold general groceries. After this was the Midland Bank which employed about three people. Then there was Lyons sweet shop where sweets were sold out of jars in quantities of 2oz or 1/4lb being weighed in little paper bags. They were the owners of the shop and were often helped by daughter Mary. The next building with shop premises was unoccupied for a number of years until the Yorkshire Penny Bank moved there just after the war in 1945. Down the side of this property was a cart track leading to a pub – The Rat Trap, only a small pub. In the yard at the side a cottage was occupied by the Copy family, caretakers of the pub.

Back on Aire Street, a rather large shop owned by Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy Hollingsworth. There they sold ladies and gents outfits as well as children’s clothes, hats, gloves and all accessories. Next door a Milliners stocked sewing accessories, hundreds of buttons, lace, cottons, elastic, pins and needles, everything for the dressmaker, it was fascinating. Mrs. Walter Miller was the manageress of this shop which was owned by Humphrey’s.

Then you came to Post Office Yard where there were three cottages. Mr. & Mrs Crossland lived in one, their daughter Joan and family lived next door and in the corner lived my aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Murgatroyd. Up a narrow passage at the top of Post Office Yard were three larger than average houses owned by Harker’s Shipbuilders where three of their employees lived. In the first was Mr & Mrs Bill Hughes and their daughter Edith. He worked as a fitters mate at the shipyard. In the second house was Mr. Turpin and daughter Rene, he was a skipper on one of the tankers. Then in the third lived Mr and Mrs Ambler with son Jeffery, he was another skipper on the tankers.

Back at the bottom of Post Office Yard entering Aire Street was the Post Office owned by two Hepworth sisters, both spinsters. Adjoining the Post Office was the telephone exchange where Mr Crossland was the supervisor with a staff of about five. It was run during the night by the Crossland family on a rota basis. Next to this a double fronted shop where the Sykes family lived. Mr Sykes repaired wirelesses and did a roaring trade topping up radio batteries with a kind of liquid (accumulators we called them) You normally kept two batteries, one you collected on a Saturday morning, leaving the other to be charged for the following week.

Next to this was Taylor’s butcher shop where Mr and Mrs Taylor lived with their son Tom. They also had a married daughter Mrs Speight. A large archway next to the shop led into Anchor Yard and came out at the top of Primrose Hill. Here a number of houses in the yard were occupied by Mr and Mrs Haigh, Mr and Mrs Turner, the Hughs Family, Mr and Mrs Swales, Mr and Mrs Schofield and the two Misses Taylor.

Returning to the bottom of the yard into Aire Street at the end of the passage was a large grocery shop owned by McDonalds. Next to it a pork butcher shop owned by another of the Taylor family where two sisters and a brother sold pork dripping and cooked meats. Then there was the Habro owned by Mr and Mrs Harris where they sold cards, stationery, toys and operated a lending library where you paid anything from threepence to a shilling to borrow a paperback book, cowboy, love stories and many more. It was always busy; Joyce Lightowler and Edith Hughes were employed there.

Then came an antique shop owned by Mrs Leghorn after which was Downes shop, selling groceries, sweets, soda and scouring stones, owned by Mr and Mrs Edgar Downes and assisted by their niece Ada. Down the side of this shop was Downes Yard which led into Primrose Hill. In that yard stood a row of houses, the homes of three families of Hortons and Belchers. Back down the passage was Backhouse’s bakery and shop where Mr Backhouse baked all his own bread and cakes. They lived on the premises with their son Philip and daughters Ursula and Monica. Down the side were three cottages where the Allsops lived and a family of Turners.

Next to that was a shop owned by Lees, a gent’s outfitter. Then there was the Buck Inn and yard where Ann Burke lived. Also in the yard a family of Morrells, Lloyds, Mr & Mrs Hodgson with daughters Mary and Doris, Williamsons, Millers and Wrightsons. The bottom of this yard led you into the Croft. The Buck Inn was a large place, all tiled at the front. Then came Robinson the chemist, also a pharmacist, where Oliver Stanworth was employed as an assistant.

Next to the chemist was the unemployment office where people out of work had to attend each week. Local people gave it the name ‘Golden Stairs’ because they had to go up two flights of stairs to get their unemployment money. This building had at one time been the NADS&S club. At the side was a house where Mr & Mrs Sammy Wood and family lived. Across in a corner were two very small cottages where two families of Dearden lived, the older Mrs Deaden was a dressmaker. Across in a yard were a family of gypsies, the Smiths, and back to back the Simpson family.

Returning to the front of Aire Street another large shop was shuttered up and above it lived William Chapman and his wife with son William and daughters Joan and Hilda. Next to this, but standing further back was a barbers shop owned by Mr Taylor, then Mr Hodgsons small bread shop where he baked his own bread, teacakes and lovely pork pies.

Standing back in a large garden was the joiner and undertaker known locally as ‘Dodi’ Braim. A large wall enclosed the buildings and orchard belonging to the property. After this was Fred Furbanks bakery where two Ryall brothers were employed along with about four females. Then came a row of cottages where Ponders, Pettits and Clay’s lived. The Clay family also had a grocer shop.

A passageway led to where Mr and Mrs Firth lived with daughters Rene and Winnie. Mrs Firth was the daughter of one of the Horncastles, a draper. Next to Mrs Firths was the draper’s shop where you could buy almost anything. Two Misses Horncastles, spinsters, were the proprietors. Next a fish and chip shop owned by Mr and Mrs Carl Clayton, who lived in a house at the back.

Then on to Dickinson’s sweet shop where you bought sweets before going to the Picture Palace immediately opposite. They stayed open later than all the other shops in order to sell sweets for both the first and second houses (or showings as you may call it nowadays). Daughter’s Nellie and Nora also served in the shop. Then came a large field with stables for Mr Braim’s horses, together with a garage and a joiners shop. Another grocer’s shop where the Wittles lived was rather large and sold a wide selection of goods.

Then there was a bakers shop owned by the Crabtree’s, a sister of Fred Furbanks, and she sold bread and cakes from his bakery and lived on the premises. On the corner of Aire Street and Cow Lane lived Mr Braim, a retired butcher who bred pigs in buildings in the Croft.

Across the road on the other side of Aire Street was a row of back to back houses where the Swales family lived, as well as the Brookes, Hughes and Marshalls. The Marshalls who owned this row of houses had a shop in the middle selling general groceries. The sisters served in the shop as did Sammy their brother. He was the conductor of Knottingley Silver Prize Band for many years. There were two cottages where Hilda Sykes and her husband lived and also her mother.

Standing back was a large detached house owned by Mr and Mrs Pilgrim Gross. He had a paining and decorating business and was a local councillor for a number of years. Next to this was a yard called Pickhill Garth where a number of lovely cottages stood. Here resided the Thompsons, Vauses and Robinsons. On the front were more lovely cottages occupied by Halderlys, Sykes and Roberts. Next the Picture Palace where the admittance was 6d, 1/- and 1/6d with a matinee on Saturday afternoon. It was owned by Mr Wood who employed a staff of four.

Island Court, a large area behind the Picture Palace extended onto the banks of the River Aire. Here lived the Shaws and Wheatmans. It was also home to old Ciss Shaw with her son Jackie, a rag and bone collector. Barney Rhodes had hens, geese, goats and a horse and cart. He felled old trees and then on Friday and Saturday he went round selling logs and firewood. His wife was Martha and they had two sons George and Barnett. Next door was Finney’s, then Brooms, Scaifes and round the corner Wilsons.

Old Hannah Rhodes kept a shop where you could buy a wide variety of goods such as wallpapers and household goods. Her daughter had married Tommy Tub a fairground traveller; she probably met him at Knottingley Feast. Next to her lived Selways, then King, a chimney sweep, then Williamson’s and Booths. In the square at the back of Island Court were some other cottage’s occupied by the Bolds, Pogmores and Ruckledges. The Ramskill family lived on the row of terrace houses near the Picture House as did the Askins.

Doubling back now to the Flatts. This was a stretch of land between Island Court and Kings Houses and was where the Knottingley Feast or Fair came every year. It was classed as a holiday where people gathered to meet friends and relations once a year, making a celebration of that week, usually in July.

The old Aire Street Hotel later became a billiard hall and was at the end of the Flatts. Then came Doubtfire’s greengrocer’s shop where old Mrs Doubtfire lived with her son Sam and his wife, and daughters Olga and Dorothy. Jack Shaw, Mrs Doubtfire’s brother, also lived here.

Next were Kings Houses where the residents included the Holmans, Fowles, Smith, Lunns and Birdsalls. A passageway led to East Parade and here lived the Heaths, Marshes, Pollards, Pullins, Woods, old Emma Holding and the Walshaws. Behind this was a house where the Simpson family lived. Returning to the front of Aire Street was Haikings shop. Mr Haiking was a tinsmith who made milk measures, milk cans, kettles, cake tins or any kind of tin you could ask for, all plated on the side with ‘John William Haikings’, a wonderful clever man. His wife was a teacher at Weeland School and they had two daughters Elizabeth and Mary.

Next came John Henry Merrits cobbler’s shop they lived in third property. The Harrisons lived on Marble Arch and at the other side of the Arch lived the Atkinsons and Hartleys. Here was also a back way to East Parade. Some derelict land lay at the side of these properties and at the bottom stood a barn and a stable and the tinsmith’s workshops.

Who remembers General Barker’s fish and chip shop next to the Wagon and Horses where he lived with wife Ethel, son Raymond and daughters Kathleen, Sylvia and Joan? In the past you could always be sure of a penny here, in return for thirteen jam jars. Across this yard was the ‘Wagon and Horses’ public house where film shows had been presented before the opening of the Picture House.

Next a row of terrace houses the properties of Bill Pease and his wife. They lived in the first one, the Sykes were next door, then the Blackburns, Mrs Walshaw and Mr and Mrs Idle (Mrs Sykes and Mrs Idle were daughters of Mrs Walshaw) then came Mr Sutton the watch and clockmaker followed by Mr and Mrs Baker a cobbler. He owned the two properties as well as a good piece of land behind stretching to the riverbank.

The lane at the side of Bakers was Water Lane where Arthur and Bertha Robinson lived, also Reginald and Sarah Law. (Mrs Robinson and Mrs Law were sisters, the daughters of Mrs Jane Holding who lived in the Back Lane behind Chapel Street School). Also in Back Lane were the Hiorns and Byrams, they were brothers and sisters and there was also a family of Rhodes.

Returning to Aire Street, Barclays Bank was on the corner and set back in the corner was the Sailors Home pub, commonly referred to as the ‘Corner’ where the landlord was George Wray. (The present day ‘Frog and Firkin’)


Down the right hand side of the Town Hall is Ropewalk. A large house on the edge of the quarry was the home of Mr and Mrs Bob Wood and their daughter Barbara and son Gordon. Mrs Wood’s mother, Mrs Turton, also lived with them. The three cottages overlooking the quarry were home to Mr and Mrs Addy and daughter Sheila. Next door lived Mrs Rhodes with daughters Nelly and Mary and son Claud and Mr and Mrs Bradley lived in the other.

On a piece of land adjoining these cottages was a club referred to as the ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ where doctors Murphy and Khelly were members, quite often too drunk to get home on their own, and spirits were supposed to be on ration, or so they said.

Then there was Ropewalk Secondary School where pupils were taught by;

Mr Luke Headmaster
Mrs McMichael Headmistress
Miss Fleming Domestic Science
Miss D. Wilson Geography
Mr France Maths
Mr Bilbrough Art and Crafts
Mr W. Coward Woodwork
Miss Moody Physical Training
Mr Jessop Physical Training
Miss M Wilson (later Jessop) English
Mr O Barton Science
Mrs Barton Needlework

The houses opposite were the ‘Manse’ home to the Methodist Minister and his family. ‘Wedgewood’ was where Will Poulson lived and in the next house lived John Poulson the architect. Lee’s the draper of Aire Street lived next door after which came the Tranmer family and then Jagger’s (these two were partners in the foundry business of Tranmer & Jagger) Next came the Misses Arnold, Dorothy and Margery, whose father was in charge of the Gas House works. Looking across from these houses was the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and Schoolroom together with the adjoining Burial Ground.


Around the corner from Ropewalk we enter Primrose Hill where Mr and Mrs Gross lived with their daughter Margaret. Mr Gross was the son of Councillor Pilgrim Gross. Down a lane lived Mr and Mrs Coultas, Mr and Mrs Towell, Mr and Mrs Spence and Mr and Mrs Simpson. At the end of this lane a large piece of land was rented out to local residents of Cow Lane and Primrose Hill for use as allotments. Coming out of this lane were four more houses opposite the Church School occupied by Mr and Mrs Speight with son Tommy, Mr and Mrs Fozzard with son Peter, Mr and Mrs Fred Fozzard, and Mr Sunderland with daughter Jenny and son Jimmy. They had one of the allotments from which they flew pigeons.

Back in Primrose Hill there were houses on either side of a narrow road. Living here were Mr and Mrs Fox, Mr and Mrs Harker, Mr and Mrs Haikings, Mr and Mrs Firth, Mr and Mrs Hannah, Mrs Wiltshire, Mrs Hawkins Snr and Mr and Mrs Hawkins Jnr with two sons. Mr and Mrs Fozzard had a little shop. Mr and Mrs Howdle and Mr Howdle Snr had a joiner’s shop on the corner, Mr and Mrs Swales with daughter Shirley.

Two houses stood on the left-hand side towards the Croft where the Turpin’s lived. Continuing on you came to Basil Tomlinson’s joiner’s shop where he worked assisted by his sons. He could turn wood on his old lathes and make anything, stools, props, steps and wheelbarrows. They felled trees and sold them locally as logs. Then there was Weeland Engineering owned by three partners using old stables as workshops.


Moving down to the Croft was the Congregational Chapel and next door lived Mr and Mrs Garner with their son Tommy who was a member of the local fire brigade and had been a boxer in his time. In Croft Avenue was Mr and Mrs J W Hayes with daughter Dorothy and sons Robert, Gordon, Albert, John and William. Then Mr and Mrs Pogmore with sons George and Ralph, Mr and Mrs Rook with daughters Irene, Jean, Joanne and son Alan, Mr Walker, daughter Clara, son Jemmy and husband Jack Greenwood. Next was Mr and Mrs J Hanson with daughters Irene, Dorothy, Kathleen, Maureen and sons Terry and Eric, Mr and Mrs Birch with daughter Kathleen and sons Wilf, Sidney, Peter and Richard, Mr and Mrs Rhodes, daughter Olive and sons Richard, Derrick and Allan. Then there was Mrs Rhodes Snr., Barney’s wife, the mother of Mrs J W Hayes and Mr R Rhodes. Her daughter Alice lived with her together with her husband Harry Walker. Then there was Mrs Wood with son Dick, daughters Mary and Dorothy, Mr and Mrs Burden with daughter Mary and sons George, Kenneth and Albert.

Then came Christ Church with the Church Hall where lunches were served for children from the Church School and one night each week the Brownies and Cubs held their meetings there with Miss Lawson being the leader. At the end of the Croft was a large house where Mr and Mrs Yard lived with their daughters Nora, Dorothy and Margaret.


Enter Cow Lane at the Aire Street end and on the left hand side stood the ‘Cherry Tree’ pub where mine hosts were Mr and Mrs Adams with daughters Irene, Jean and Kathleen and their son Derek. There were two cottages where Sweeney Dixon lived (he was a little man, a hairdresser by trade- perhaps this is how he became ‘Sweeney’) Two houses stood back, one where Mr and Mrs Pearson lived with daughter Pat while Mr and Mrs Brooks lived in the other. Further along lived Mowbray’s the painter and decorators with brothers Ted and Stewart in partnership. Next door lived Mrs Banks whose father owned quite a lot of property in this area having connections with the shipbuilding family of Harker’s. Then there were the Richardson’s and Mr and Mrs G Askin with daughter Dorothy.

In a yard that stood back were the families of Walker, Coultas and Woods. Mr Coultas was a cobbler. As we approach Sunny Bank, a row of cottages on the canal bank, the ‘Roper Arms’ stood, and Mrs Bedford was the landlady with three daughters Joan, Clara and Gwen. Mrs Bedford was the daughter of Mrs Walshaw in Aire Street. On the corner of Sunny Bank, Durdin’s had a grocery shop. Some of the residents on Sunny Bank were Sykes, Larringtons, Hallers, Woods, Harkers and Rowleys. Tom and Jack Rowley were haulage contractors who also had a smallholding on Cow Lane.

Going back down Cow Lane on the other side was the doctors surgery where Doctors Murphy and Khelly were the only two doctors in town and one receptionist made up all the medicines on her own. Looking across from the surgery houses standing on the slope were occupied by Mr and Mrs J Jackson daughter Lilian and son John, next door was Mr Pearson, Reynolds family and Dawsons. Back on the other side was Adams shop where Ethel and Mrs Adams served a variety of groceries and sweets. Ethel was a niece of Mr Adams living with them and their two sons.

Next a cobbled yard with cottages where the Downes family lived, also Rowbottoms and Harlands. They had a wash house at the top of the yard and each family had a day for washing, you dare not go up there when washing was hung out, in fact they were very fussy anytime about kids going up that yard. The Percent’s lived in the next yard as did the Lamb’s with daughters Violet and Lily. Tom Wray’s fruit shop was on the corner of Tythe Barn and he lived with his wife in the house behind.

Up a passage leading to Tythe Barn Mr and Mrs Lowe lived in the first house. Near the Elim Tabernacle in a row of small cottages was Miss Tucker and her brothers, Mr and Mrs Tether and son John, then Legger Sweeting and his dad who had a paralysed arm but still delivered milk locally in cans every day for George Braim who lived at the bottom of the Croft. You could tell the time of day with Legger or Sidney as he was called (his Sunday name he used to say).

Back on Cow Lane Downing’s had a fish and chip shop, there was always a long queue at their shop as Annie Tucker who helped out had only one speed. Mr and Mrs Downing lived at the side of the shop with son Sydney. One house stood on its own, ‘Sarnia’ (the Roman name for Guernsey) where Mr and Mrs J W Coward lived with sons John and Edward. Both Mr and Mrs Coward were schoolteachers. His father had been a master mariner and owned a vessel called ‘ Bess Mitchell’.

Next was a row of cottages where the Flowers family lived, then Cawthorn’s, after which a rather grand house belonged to Mr and Mrs W Greggs, owners of Greggs Glassworks. Now we are at the bottom of Cow Lane again. Leading into Aire Street near Marsh End was a cottage occupied by Mr Philpotts. He worked at the brewery and got drunk on Guinness, then drunk himself sober again. The locals at the Cherry Tree used to say this happened every night.


Round the corner from the Cherry Tree in some small cottages the Beaumonts lived, and down a passage (Teazer Terrace) lived Mr and Mrs Seal and the Dixon family. On the front was a shop owned by Dolly Lightowler and a row of cottages owned by Mrs Lightowler where Ernest and Ada Woodhead lived, as did Irene Armitage and her husband with twins Michael and Pat, and Walt and Bessie Dixon lived in the last one. Down that passage lived Mrs Ellis and daughter Molly. Further on in larger houses lived Mr and Mrs Hunter, owner of the foundry down Gas House Lane, Mr and Mrs Harris with sons Peter, Michael and Richard. They owned the Harbro in Aire Street and a printing works in Featherstone. Then came Mr and Mrs McDonald, Whitwells, Days, Robinsons, Millers and Braims. At the foot of Shepherds Bridge a row of houses continued up the hill where Browns, Johnsons and Pollards lived, after which was Braims butcher shop owned by John Braim with his wife and daughters Anne and Margaret. Next door lived Mr and Mrs Johnson, he worked on Harkers boats as a skipper and was nicknamed ‘Muckboat Johnson’. His wife used to do the laying out in the mortuary down Stocking Lane and was always available to help the local undertakers.

Going back down Shepherds bridge on the other side is Stocking Lane where lived Spiers the milkman, the Murphet’s and old Mr Spiers. Bowers had a small holding here and next to that was the Council Yard where the local workforce gathered each day before work, and then the mortuary as mentioned previously. Further down Mr and Mrs Doubtfire worked the Bank Dole Lock living in the lock keepers house.


Leaving Town Hall corner towards Hill Top stood Quarry House on the right hand side, owned by Bentley the auctioneer and estate agents, Horace and Herbert. Mrs Elliott lived here with son William and granddaughters Alice, Mary and Doris. They were caretakers at the Ministry of Food Office where, during the war all the bottom rooms were used as offices, issuing coupons for rations. There was quite a number of staff employed there. Across the lane lived Mr and Mrs Day along with their son Edward. Mr Day was a bookie and owned a lot of property. The next two cottages were owned by Walter Leeman, where Sidaways and Ted Taylor lived. Ted Taylor married Walter Leeman’s daughter Doris and they had a son Michael. Next was a shop owned by Mrs Leeman and run by her daughters Doris and Nancy and her son Jack. You could buy your weekly rations there if you had saved enough ration coupons and you even got your sweets in a three cornered paper bag.

Down the side of the shop stood a small row of cottages owned by Mr Day, home to Wrights, Palfreyman, Addy and Pullins. On the left standing back was Pear Tree Cottage where the Aton family lived with their daughters Mary and Frances. At the top of the land was Bentley’s offices where the two brothers, Percy and Arthur, had their auctioneers office. On the front stood Walter Leeman’s saddler’s shop where he and son Jack repaired saddles, bridles, harnesses and tarpaulins. The old man worked hard but Jackie was always missing; down at the Sailor’s Home was Jackie’s idea of work. Dorothy Leeman was murdered in her shop some years ago and her killer was never found.

Next was the Old White Swan Inn, a really old pub where Mrs Price was landlady with her daughter Mary. At the side stood Sculpture House, a big old house with passages to the downstairs rooms. Jack Mattison and family lived there. It once featured a magnificent fireplace that was dismantled and shipped abroad.

At the side were three cottages and Fairbairn’s Yard. Horace and Henry Fairbairn worked as stone and monumental masons, they were slow but sure and their work will last forever. Two Fairbairn sisters lived in one cottage, Hilda and Ada, very quiet and so polite. Fred, their brother lived in the end house. He was a surveyor and Mrs Duddin was his housekeeper, she was a piano teacher who came from New Zealand.

Next were two rather larger houses where Mr and Mrs Jordan lived with their daughter Ruth. Next door lived Mr and Mrs Rhodes with daughters Elaine and Wendy. Mrs Rhodes was formerly Lillian Jackson, daughter of John Jackson, founder of Jackson’s Glassworks.

In Gaggs Bridge Lane lived Mr and Mrs Bentley with daughter Ann. Mr Bentley was an auctioneer and valuer whilst Ann was a dance teacher. On the side of this house was the library where Miss Mary Cawthorn was librarian. She used to say, "I hope you children have washed your hands or you wont be able to borrow any books", and she had hand inspections! At the next entrance was the milk token office where Mary Hall was in charge of all milk tokens. During the war years milk was rationed and the Ministry of National Food had this office until 1950, employing about eight people. Down the lane stood another three houses where Nurse Robins, the district nurse lived. Next door Mr and Mrs Rook with son Joe and daughters Nelly and Margery. Then came Mrs Mann and her two daughters. Behind these houses was a cottage occupied by Mrs Miller with her daughter Ada Betchetti and her son Andrew and daughter Joan. Across stood two houses where Mr and Mrs Hollingsworth lived. They were both teachers at Weeland School. Next door were the Eastwoods, brother of Mrs Hollingsworth.

At Gaggs Bridge my story ends but I hope these reminiscences will revive memories of the character of Knottingley of old.

Louie Hayes

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