THE KNOTTINGLEY COAT OF ARMS
by Dr. TERRY SPENCER
application by Knottingley Urban District Council for a grant of arms was
made to the College of Arms, London, in mid 1942. The formal record of the
Council covering events during 1941-42 when the decision was taken to
apply for a coat of arms for the town is lost and therefore the precise
date and details of the circumstances which resulted in the decision to
acquire the arms are missing. (1)
decision was taken at the mid point of the Second World War at a time when
patriotism allied to heightened awareness of a shared heritage combined to
engender pride in dullest of souls, it is probable that the move was
inspired by the sentient conditions of the period.
reason, or by whatever means, an approach was made to the College of Arms
who responded by sending an application form with a covering letter
requesting payment for a fee of £81-10-0. The matter was therefore placed
in the hands of the Council’s Finance Committee and at a meeting held on
the 24th June 1942, it was decided to establish a small sub-committee with
the power to make direct recommendations to the Council in general. (2)
The Armorial Bearings Committee as the subsidiary body was named,
consisted of Councillors J. Morris, H. Gregg, J.W. Booth and L.G. Creaser,
the latter being the initial chairman of the sub-committee. (3)
Bearings Committee resolved to forward to the College of Arms a series of
suggestions with regard to the features to be incorporated in the desired
arms and to ask the College to provide an appropriate design. (4)
By the end of
September 1942, the Committee had received a provisional design and it was
resolved to seek further advice from the College of Arms concerning an
appropriate motto to compliment the coat of arms. (5) Again, a series of
possible mottoes was sent to the College of Arms for consideration by the
Heralds who subsequently suggested the adoption of ‘Prosperity attained
by Industry’ in its Latin form, ‘Industria Ditat’
design was then re-submitted for consideration by the full Council,
meeting in general session on the 7th October 1942. The Council
referred the matter back to the Armorial Bearings Committee, assisted by
J. W. Bentley, for final scrutiny. (6) At a meeting on the 28th
October 1942, the Committee decided that no further amendment was
necessary and therefore recommended the Council to approve the design. (7)
On the 11th November 1942, the minute of the Armorial Bearings
Committee was approved and adopted by the Knottingley Urban District
Council in general session. (8)
The grant of
arms was authorised by the Earl Marshall, the Duke of Norfolk, and dated
28th August 1942 (9) but it was not until the 3rd
February 1943 that the Patent or Grant was presented at a general meeting
of the Council. It was instantly resolved that the original document be
given into the care of the Midland Bank for the duration of the war, to
enter the text of the document in the Council Minutes and to request the
College of Arms to provide a ‘Painting’ of the said arms. (10)
consisted of a preliminary section describing the antecedents of the
Knottingley Urban District Council, followed by a heraldic description: -
issuant from water barry wavy in case, a bridge of two arches proper, in
chief a Lacy knot, Or, between two Roses Argent, barbed and seeded, also
proper. And for the Crest, on a wreath Argent and Azure, a cubit arm
holding an Ancient Glass Bottle Proper."
the authorisation permitting the arms
be borne and used forever hereafter by the said Urban District Council of
Knottingley and its successors constituting each for the time being the
Local Authority for and bearing the title Knottingley on Seals, Shields or
otherwise according to the Laws of Arms.
15th Dec. 7th Geo VI (1942)." (11)
both township and district are symbolised by the arms. The bridge and
water beneath represent the ancient structure over the River Aire at
nearby Ferrybridge (and by implication, the Aire & Calder Canal, dug
through the town between 1820-1826) The roses represent the County of
Yorkshire and were the badge of the now defunct West Riding County
Council. The Lacy knot was the badge of the de Lacy family, the former
feudal lords to whom the manor of Knottingley was assigned following the
Norman Conquest of 1066. The bottle which forms the crest of refers to the
local glass industry which after 1871 became the principal industry within
the town and which, despite change, remains so to this day. It is also
symbolic that the bottle is clutched by hand, thus representing the fact
that industry, which was the main source of the town’s economic
prosperity, was predicated on manual craftsmanship. (12)
after the grant of arms the Council commissioned a shield of polished wood
overlaid by a metal shield of exact shape but smaller dimension, upon
which the arms of the town were painted in coloured enamel. Upon
completion the shield was suspended above the seat occupied by the
Chairman within the Council Chamber of the Town Hall where it remained
until the Knottingley Urban District Council became defunct following
local government reorganisation in the mid 1970s.
The arms of
the town were prominently displayed during the ‘War Savings Week’
activities, which were an annual feature of the town throughout the war.
(13) In February – March 1942, the war drive was designated as ‘Warship
Week’ in which the minesweeper, H.M.S. Kennet was adopted by the town.
(14) In a subsequent gesture of mutual appreciation and support the ships
crew and the K.U.D.C, exchanged tokens. The Council were presented with a
plaque featuring Kennet’s badge and were in turn presented with a hand
carved oak plaque bearing the town’s arms and a commemorative text
celebrating the adoption of the vessel the previous year. (15)
plaque is retained by the Knottingley Town Hall Management Committee and
is on display within the Town Hall. The plaque presented to the ship went
astray following the decommissioning and breaking up of the vessel in
1946. In April 1963 however, the Council received a letter from a Mr. T.
Norman of Oxford stating that he had the plaque and offering to restore
possession to the Council. The offer was gratefully accepted but on the
demise of the K.U.D.C in 1974 the plaque was again lost before being
located by the present writer shortly thereafter. (16)
unnaturally, the town’s arms were a source of considerable pride and
over the ensuing years a number of individuals and organisations have
sought permission to reproduce them in various forms. In 1950 permission
was granted to Knottingley Silver Prize Band to have the town’s coat of
arms emblazoned on its bass drum. (17) At the time of the
Britain celebrations in July 1951, the Yorkshire Electricity Board
sponsored the illumination of St. Botolph’s Church and the Town Hall
with the facade of the latter proudly featuring the arms of the town. (18)
In February 1956, the Divisional Commander of the Five Towns’ Girl
Guides sought to include the arms on the divisional standard (19) and in
April of that year, Brown Muff & Co., Bradford, received permission to
reproduce the arms on a pictorial map of Yorkshire, printed in colour on
linen. (20) The following year, in response to a Shipley student of
heraldry, the Council provided a facsimile of the towns’ coat of arms.
(21) In 1959, the Council was approached by a representative of the
Pontefract Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd., who offered to present a
panel bearing the Knottingley arms, painted by one of the Society’s
staff. (22) The offer was accepted with pleasure, particularly as the
artist was the well-known Knottingley artist, Mr. Alfred Smith. It was
resolved to have the panel framed and placed in the entrance hall of the
newly acquired Council offices at ‘The Close’, Hill Top, Knottingley,
together with a small plaque recording the details of the presentation.
(23) It is not known whether the plan was implemented but there is
certainly no trace of the panel today and one may only assume that in
common with other objects comprising the town’s historical legacy, it
disappeared at the time of local government reorganisation. The Council
acceded to a request by the town’s Rugby Union Football Club to
incorporate the town’s arms in the new club badge, in April 1971. (24)
Somewhat surprisingly however, an approach by the Knottingley District
Civic Society seeking permission to use the crest of the coat of arms on
the Society’s notepaper, was rejected. (25) The Society therefore
undertook to commission a motif and throughout 1972 sample designs were
prepared for approval. (26) However, it appears that at a later,
unrecorded date, permission was given to the Civic Society to use the town’s
arms for the current notepaper of the Society bears the full coat of arms
at its head.
decade after the powers of the defunct K.U.D.C had been vested in the
Wakefield Metropolitan District Council a singular request was made for
permission to reproduce the Knottingley arms. Rockware Glass Ltd., which
operated two of the three glassworks in Knottingley, sought permission of
the W.M.D.C. Finance & General Purposes Committee to manufacture a
single, non-repeatable, crystal glass vase featuring the towns coat of
arms. The unique item was intended for presentation to the Company’s
General Manager to mark his departure from the town of Knottingley. The
Committee granted the request and it was perhaps appropriate that the
Committee’s Chairman was Cr. W. O’Brien, a former Chairman of
Knottingley Urban District Council. (27)
Knottingley’s Coat of Arms – Notes
- The bulk
of the K.U.D.C Minute Books are held by the West Yorkshire Archive
Service County Records Office, Wakefield, but the volume for 1941-1942
is missing from the series.
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1943-1943, p17.
- Cr. J.W. Booth later succeeded Cr. Creaser as the Chairman of the Armorial
Bearings Committee. loc cit p112
- ibid p28 & p49.
- ibid p87.
- ibid p97.
- ibid p112.
- ibid p119.
- The grant
of arms is made by the Kings of Arms following authorisation by the
Earl Marshall. I am indebted to Mr. P.L. Dickinson, Richmond Herald,
of the College of Arms, London, for his kind assistance and valuable
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book 1942-1943, p170.
- ibid p250
- A description of the Knottingley Coat of Arms, accompanied by an
explanation of some of the symbolism is featured in Scott-Giles C.W.
‘Civic Heraldry in England & Wales’, (1953), p419. I am
grateful to Mr. P.L. Dickinson, Richmond Herald, for information
concerning this source.
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1942-1943, p98
- Spencer T. ‘Knottingley’s War Savings Weeks’ in the current volume, pp??
- Spencer T. ‘Knottingley’s Warship – H.M.S. Kennet’, loc cit, pp???
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1962-1963, p397
- Pontefract and Castleford Express, 13-11-1950
- loc cit 3-8-1951 p3. For photograph of illuminated façade of Knottingley Town
Hall. Also, Spencer T. ‘Fairs, Festivals & Frolics: Knottingley
circa 1860-2003’ Volume 1, p85 & Volume 2, p76, for photograph.
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1955-1956, p199
- ibid p259
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1957-1958, p130
- Pontefract and Castleford Express 1-8-1996, p2 for a profile of Mr. A. Smith. loc
cit 23-9-1927, p6, 30-9-1927, p3, and passim for reproduction of Smith’s
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1959-1960, p66
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1971-1972, p390
- K.U.D.C. Minute Book, 1972-1974, p18. Also Knottingley District Civic Society
Minutes, Item 6, 5-5-1972. I am indebted to Mr. J.P Bedford,
secretary, Knottingley District Civic Society for details from the
minutes of the Society.
- loc cit, May – December, 1972, passim
- W.M.D.C. Minute Book, 1981-1982, p876. Mr. W. O’Brien is currently the Member
of Parliament for Normanton constituency.
& Staff, West Yorkshire Archives service, Wakefield
Mr. J. P. Bedford, Chairman, Knottingley & District Civic Society
Mr. P.L. Dickinson, Richmond Herald, College of Arms, London
Mr. P.L.Handy, W.M.D.C. Legal Services Department, Wakefield
Librarian and Staff, Castleford Library
Librarian and Staff, Pontefract Library
Dr. Terry Spencer