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Knottingley and Ferrybridge: The Town Today



Knottingley - an important industrial town in the county of West Yorkshire, England, is situated in the lower Aire Valley on the south bank of the river Aire and has a population of approximately 16,000. It is a member of what is locally referred to as the 'Five Towns' which also comprise the towns of Pontefract, Castleford, Featherstone and Normanton and covers an area of approximately 38 square miles. The nearest cities to Knottingley are Wakefield, Leeds and York. Knottingley is ideally situated with easy, convenient access to both the A1(M) and the M62 motorway.

It has its own small railway station with regular services into both Leeds and Wakefield where our local trains connect with the main line services to London and the North. There are also regular bus services from Knottingley into adjoining towns such as Pontefract and Castleford with a less frequent service through to Doncaster. Once the inland port of the West Riding, what little remains of the canal transportation business now simply passes through the town on its journey from the port of Goole to major towns and cities further inland.

The River Aire at Ferrybridge by William Dobson

Mist rising over the river Aire at Ferrybridge
Photographed by William Dobson

Knottingley is still home to some major industrial concerns, a tradition which it has carried for many years. The glass works in the town have been established for over one hundred years though they have seen several changes of ownership along the way.

The town is bisected by the Knottingley to Goole railway line which carries thousands of tons of coal through the centre of the town to the local power stations at Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge. Coal is still big business for the town, although today, instead of it being transported a few miles from our local collieries, it will probably have travelled thousands of miles from the other side of the world to our East coast ports.  Cheap imported coal has reduced our local collieries from around a dozen or so in 1980 to just a single one at Kellingley by 2004, and along with them, whole mining communities have disappeared.

The centre of the coal transportation business in the area is the English, Welsh and Scottish Railway depot situated in the heart of the town from where almost all the coal trains seen passing through the area are worked.

A small railway station in town which was once the major changing point for trains to and from London and Scotland is now serviced by an infrequent 'shuttle' to Leeds and Wakefield.

The skyline towards Ferrybridge is dominated by the massive cooling towers and chimneys of Ferrybridge 'C' Power Station.  Commissioned in 1968, it is a coal fired station utilising both local mined and imported coal which it receives by rail, road and barge.  It has a capacity of 2000MW and burns up to 800 tonnes of coal per hour and requires 218 million litres of water per hour for cooling purposes.

Knottingley has both its own fire and police stations with cover being provided by forces in the neighbouring towns of Pontefract and Castleford.

Although industry plays a leading role in the life of the town, Knottingley is situated on the very edge of some lovely countryside and is a short drive away from some areas of outstanding natural beauty. Within the space of approx just over one hours drive it is possible to be in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Moors or along the East coast resorts at Scarborough, Bridlington, Whitby and Filey.  Yorkshire has much to offer to its visitors and Knottingley, while being a town of industrial stature, lies in the heart of some of the most beautiful countryside in England.

The town has always been blessed with its fair share of pubs and some of these go back many years to the days of the mail coach services in Ferrybridge.  The local pub is but a short stroll away. For those of you who like to stay out past the midnight hour, the neighbouring towns of Pontefract and Castleford offer a varied selection of night life.

The annual carnival, the origins of which date back to 1927, continues to be staged each summer and attracts support from all corners of the community.

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