YEARS IN FOCUS
KNOTTINGLEY IN 1968
REPRODUCED COURTESY OF THE
11th January 1968
LOCAL FAMILY EMIGRATING
An excited family of six at Knottingley is waiting for the final word
before setting off on a 4,000 mile journey to a new home in Chicago,
USA. They are Mr. John Maeer, of Springfields, Knottingley, and his wife
Dorothy, both aged 45, 17-year-old daughter Janice, twins Katherine and
Susan aged 14, and Andrew, aged 5.
Mr. Maeer has decided to emigrate because he feels his family will get
better opportunities in America. "The Americans demand more from life
than we do and are willing to work for it", he says. A foreman in the
cold-forming department - a comparatively new branch of engineering - at
Whitehouse Industries, Pontefract, Mr. Maeer answered a newspaper
advertisement for a similar job with Allied Products Corporation,
Chicago. The firm has forwarded over £300 for flight fares. Mr. Maeer
will be alone initially and will send for his family as soon as he finds
Mr. Maeer will receive over £50 for a 40-hour week but he will not be a
foreman. "I am starting at the bottom again," he said. The firm has
intimated that work will be found with them for Janice, who is at
present in the offices of Pollard Bearings Ltd.
8th February 1968
THREE MEN WALKED THIRTY MILES
Three Knottingley men walked 30 miles during the night on Saturday,
starting at midnight on Friday along a proposed route of the 30 mile
walk for Christian Aid, which is being undertaken by all the churches in
Knottingley, including the Roman Catholic. The walk is not being held
until May, but Michael Hobman a member of the Congregational Church, and
Robert Neilson and Bill Gardener, members of Ropewalk Methodist Church,
did the walk to help police by estimating times when the walkers will be
passing certain points. Miss A. Byerley and Mr. W. Spence of St.
Botolph’s Church helped by conveying refreshments to the walkers every
two hours and Mr. Spence joined in the walk for the last eight miles.
Arriving back at 9.45am the three walkers declared that they were "tired
out". They ate a breakfast of bacon and eggs at the home of the curate
of Knottingley, Reverend S. Doubtfire before going home to bed.
The route which now awaits the approval of the police is from Ropewalk
Church, along Womersley Road, through Cridling Stubbs, Whitley Bridge,
Kellington, Hensall, Gowdall. Snaith, Carleton, Temple Hirst, Chapel
Haddlesy, Birkin, Beal and Kellingley.
2nd May 1968
BOAT LAUNCHED BY WIFE
Three and a half years work reached a successful culmination for Mr.
Ken Robinson, of Racca Green Garage, Knottingley, on Monday, when a boat
he has built himself was launched by his wife Madge at Harker’s
shipyard. The boat, a Bermudan sloop, was built in a yard behind the
garage from plans obtained from a yachting magazine. Building began in
December 1964 and, as stated in an account of its progress reported in
‘The Express’ some time ago, Mr. Robinson did most of the work himself.
Among those who helped were Mr. Peter Bryan and Mr. Tony Clements. Named
‘Kayhem’ and registered at Goole, the sloop is 31ft overall with a 38ft
mast and 420ft of canvas, an 8' 6'' beam and a 3' 6'' draught. It is
powered by a 30hp Hercules marine two-cylinder diesel engine and the
fuel tanks give a powered cruising time of 20 hours.
After the launch, Mr and Mrs Robinson took the sloop to Goole and then
to Whitby where it will be moored until the return journey to
Knottingley on Saturday.
2nd May 1968
INDUSTRIAL TOUR OF YORKSHIRE
Nine Members of the Imperial Defence College, comprising civil servants
and members of the armed forces from many parts of the world, toured the
Hill Top factory of Jackson Bros. of Knottingley Ltd., on Thursday.
Earlier they had been at Kellingley Colliery. The visit was part of an
industrial tour of the West Riding. They party included representatives
of the Australian Armed Forces, a captain in the Nigerian Navy, two
brigadiers in the British Army, a Royal Navy captain and representatives
from the Ministry of Defence and H.M. Custom and Excise. The tour was
part of a course lasting one year, related to defence problems.
Said Colonel I.A. Geddes, of the Australian Army: - "Two terms of the
course are related to a study of economics and politics on a world wide
scale and a detailed study of defence problems of this country. The aim
is to fit people for higher jobs.
After the visitors had seen the complete glass making processes Colonel
Geddes said: "I am very impressed by everything here. We were told in
London that the production was not high enough to meet Britain’s
economic problems, but the people here seem to be working very hard."
23rd May 1968
DERBY& JOAN QUEEN AT KNOTTINGLEY
The choice of the Judges who picked the Knottingley Derby & Joan Queen
on Thursday was Mrs C. Burkill of Beal. Eighty members attended the
event in the Town Hall and judging the competition were Mrs I. Bloomer
and Mrs M. Ward, with Mrs Alex Scratcher and Mesdames Murfit and Hart,
both members of the club, were the attendants. The retiring queen, Mrs
S. Asquith, crowned her successor. Both attendants and judges received
bouquets and tea was served by committee members.
6th June 1968
KNOTTINGLEY PUB TO CLOSE
The Duke of York Inn at the Holes, Knottingley, which was first
licensed in 1902, was refused a licence by the West Riding Compensation
Authority at Wakefield last Wednesday. The clerk to the Licensing
Justices for the Osgoldcross Division, Mr. H.W. Payne said there was no
issue between himself, the brewery or the licensee about the redundancy
of ‘The Duke of York’.
Questioned by Mr. Payne, Police Sergeant A. Masters, said he visited
the public house on 15 occasions during November and December 1967, and
on nine of them there was no member of the public in the inn. He said
the facilities of the premises "left a lot to be desired", though the
licensee and his wife Mr. and Mrs Leonard Alderson, kept the place
The Manager of Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries Ltd., Mr. G. Roberts, said
he considered that Sergeant Master’s detailed report was "very fair and
correct." He acknowledged the condition of the inn was poor and added:
"Quite frankly neither present nor potential trade warrants money being
spent to renovate the premises."
6th June 1968
KNOTTINGLEY FOUNDRY CLOSED
The Model Foundry Co. Ltd., at Pontefract Road, Knottingley, which for
over 40 years has made iron castings for road works, and at one time
made ship’s castings in iron, closed down two weeks ago because of
financial difficulties as briefly reported in ‘The Express’ last week.
It was founded 42 years ago by the late Mr. Samuel Gregg, of ‘The
Chestnuts’, Pontefract Road, Knottingley, who died 18 years ago. After
his death it was taken over by his daughter, Mrs Mabel Shay, and two
sons, Mr. Horace Gregg and the late Mr. Cyril Gregg.
When Mr. Cyril Gregg died three years ago the Foundry, the land, and
the house ‘The Chestnuts’, were sold to Mr. J. Charlesworth, of John
Addy and Sons, Clayton West, Huddersfield. Mr. Horace Gregg, of
Pontefract Road, Knottingley, is now a lorry driver, and Mrs Shay’s
husband, Mr. J. Shay, is a market gardener.
The Foundry employed up to 40 people at one time, but when it closed 20
employees were put out of work.
25th July 1968
AIRE STREET HISTORY
How many of present Knottingley people realise that with the demolition
in Aire Street is passing a physical feature of the town that once was
woven into its community life - the ‘yards’?
At intervals, all the way down the main street, passages, known locally
as ‘yards’ - some of which linked right through to the parallel and
once-attractive ‘Croft’, orchard sprinkled and white walled - contained
the homes of Knottingley folk. And these little groups were identified
often by the ‘yard’ they lived in. At one fell swoop the last of this
system is now disappearing and with them probably names which have been
known to generations.
Coming down Aire Street from about the centre, there was Hepworth's
Yard (so named after the family who had the Post Office and printing
works there and sometimes called Post Office Yard).
There followed at short intervals, Taylor’s Yard (from the name of the
butcher family who have long occupied the shop at the head of it and
whose present representative is Mr. Tom Taylor); Peckitt’s Yard (again
from the confectioner’s shop at the head); Dickinson’s Yard, The Buck
Inn Yard, Millburn’s Yard, (from the chemist of years gone by, at the
From Chapel Street to Aire Street and the Croft, ran Back Lane, one of
the first slum clearance area’s before the war, where countless people
seemed to live in those days. Opposite the Aire Street on the other side
was the ‘Marble Arch’ passage, a comical Knottingley reference which did
not escape the late Mr. L.P. Luke when he wrote his songs for the
Ropewalk School’s "Ropewalk Revue".
The same pattern followed throughout the town. At the southern side on
Racca Green, was Tupman’s Yard and Mariners Yard from the Foundry to the
canal side and many others. Some were ‘through’ and connecting passages
with houses or cottages close together, while others were square and
self-contained. But all carried that identification of neighbours and
people by which Knottingley families knew each other. The Horton family,
for example, were at one time so identified with Dickinson’s Yard, from
Aire Street to the Croft, and there lived the famous Bill Horton,
probably Knottingley’s first Rugby League International, who played for
So in the minds of Knottingley folk, discussion of a personality always
brought some thought of ‘which yard’ he came from. Each had a
characteristic community, and very close in clanship. Neighbours were on
such terms - far different from the present day trend when privacy is
more prized - of ‘knock and walk in’, that people intermingled
constantly in their homes. There may be some Racca Green’ers of the old
school left who still remember the cry - probably emanating from the
need for precautions during Zeppelin raids in the first world war "Are
ya all in ya’re awn house?" That spirit has changed and now the fabric
of the homes that sheltered it is passing too.
25th July 1968
RIVER SUPPLIED CHRISTENING WATER
A former Verger of St. Andrew’s Church, Ferrybridge, who can recall the
days when he used to draw water from the nearby river for all the
christenings, celebrated his 98th birthday yesterday. He is Mr. George
Chapman Sharp, of Station Road, Ferrybridge. Born in Burton Salmon, Mr.
Sharp moved in his childhood to Northallerton and then sixty years ago
to Ferrybridge. All his working life was spent on the railways and he is
still fascinated by trains, often watching them go by on the railway
line near his home.
Mr. Sharp’s wife died 11 years ago after 61 years of marriage. He lives
with his eldest daughter, 71 year old Miss Annie Sharp. His other
children, two daughters and one son -- another son died several years
ago - all live nearby and Mr. Sharp greatly enjoys visits from them and
from his seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren,
Mr. Sharp’s hobbies include
gardening and reading the newspapers and he is a member of St. Andrew’s
Church - but he is not able to get out much. When he was verger at St.
Andrew’s, the church was in its former position by the river and he
often had to wade or row through the water to reach it when the ground
was flooded. The water, used for christenings at the church, was brought
by him from the river in a bucket.
As he is not very well just now, Mr.
Sharp’s relatives are not holding any celebrations for his birthday but
they planned to visit him yesterday.
25th July 1968
TENTH CARNIVAL IS "THE BEST YET!"
£1,000 KNOTTINGLEY GATE
‘The Best Ever’, was the opinion of
many people after Knottingley’s tenth annual Carnival and Sports at the
Green House playing fields on Saturday. The afternoon was perfect with
bright sunshine bringing out a large crowd to see American pop celebrity
Gene Pitney perform the opening ceremony.
Events started with the procession
of floats through Ferrybridge and Knottingley, to be judged as they
returned to the field. The judges were Mr. and Mrs M. Turner, Mr. and
Mrs J. Donaldson, Sister Langley and Mrs J. Marshall. They chose the
‘Diddy Men’ as the children’s tableau winner and ‘Spanish Fiesta’ as the
winner of the adult tableau.
After the procession, Councillor W.
Sarvent introduced the president of the Carnival Committee, Mr. D.
Pettitt, its chairman, Mr. S. Burton, the Chairman of K.U.D.C.,
Councillor Mary Nunns, and Gene Pitney.
Accompanied by the band, Gene Pitney
sang ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. He then crowned the Carnival Queen,
Miss Ellen Reynolds, who received an inscribed watch, and both she and
the deputy queen, Miss Sharon Burton, received rose bowls. After
bouquets had been presented to the women judges by the Carnival Queen,
Mr. Pitney retired to the pavilion where a long queue of
10th October 1968
BY 'SOCCO VOCE'
Knottingley people have taken up the
trail of lime road history as suggested recently in ‘The Express’ may
have been for lime wagons leading from the ancient Knottingley lime
workings to the River Aire for barge loading. From evidence of cobble
stones and other clues, ‘The Express’ traced a possible road of the past
down which lime carts travelled from Womersley Road across the site of
Bagley’s glassworks and the canal, to Aire Street and waiting ships or
barges on the river.
There are of course, lime quarry
workings from time immemorial in many parts of Knottingley, and now
appears as was also suggested, the probability of more than one road.
Mr. Granville Burdin, of Pontefract Road, recalls a channelled "way"
which crossed under the Pontefract Road, at Hilltop, just west of the
Bay Horse Inn, and presumably ended in what were then called ‘Brewery
Fields’, at the River. This was known in his younger days as "the wagon
road". The belief is that the lime was taken on it, probably on tramways
from the quarries, of which there is ample evidence in the Headlands and
Simpson’s Lane areas, and still further south. During the last war the
"tunnel" was used as an air raid shelter.
Mr. Burdin expresses the
belief that probably several roads took lime from the south of the town,
north to the river, and later to the canal. A tunnel, indicating an
access road, lay under Weeland Road between the old Town Quarry above
which stands St. Botolph’s Church, and the recess in the bend of the
road there, which gives on to the canal. But probably the access road
turned in earlier days, toward the river.
Again lime would be in demand,
suggests Mr. Burdin, not only for agricultural purposes but as stone for
reinforcement of the canal (as can be seen at many points in
Knottingley) and for other canals; and so in turn the canal became the
departure point of loads, not only of lime, but of limestone.
Mr. Burdin recalls that as a young
man his grandfather worked with William Bagley when they were both at
Brefitt’s, Castleford. A history of glass at Castleford, given in ‘The
Express’ Charter Supplement in 1955, mentions developments in Castleford
about 1846, and notes at "about that time, Bagley and Burdin left
Castleford for Knottingley". He cherishes many a memory of the skill,
dry humour, hardiness and customs of the "glass folk" among them; the
custom of a firm giving to a newly fledged craftsman, a gold watch, to
which the foreman of the lad’s particular team of workers would
customarily add a gold Albert. Mr. Burdin recalls that in the early
1880’s, William Bagley formed the Bagley Company, and Burdin & Co was
formed in 1887, specialising in the making of glass carboys.
Memories of her childhood in a
haunted house in Knottingley, were recalled by the ‘lime road’ article
for Mrs Rachel Taylor, of Bryan Close, Whitwood Mere. Now aged 84, she
moved to Knottingley with her family from Mexborough at the age of six.
Her father was a glass founder at Bagley’s works and he had a wife and
seven children to support.
Their now demolished cottage near
the Cherry Tree Inn, at the junction of Cow Lane and Marsh End was
haunted says Mrs Taylor, by the vision of a lady wearing a bustle, with
a long skirt trailing on the floor, who seemed to walk through walls and
sometimes appeared at Mrs Taylor’s bedside.
Less well off in those days, many
people made the best of what they could at Christmas times, and in times
of difficulty. At Harker’s Shipyard, where children played among the
half-constructed boats, at Christmas Time they collected a log of wood
for a Christmas fire, says Mrs Taylor. Poor children received a free
Christmas dinner at the Church School and to supplement the family
income, ordinarily her father shot for rabbits and pheasants with a gun
kept in the beams of the house.
She recalls soup being
distributed to the poor in hard times and queuing with her jug at the
Town Hall every Friday morning. No water being available to the house,
the children at her home were sent for water from the pump in a nearby
butcher’s yard. She also recalls the belief which many present
Knottingley folk will remember (and maybe experienced) that inhaling
smoke from the burning lime kilns in the quarries was curative. Her
mother sent the children to inhale the fumes as a cure for whooping
cough. But when her brother caught smallpox, the entire family was
locked up in the cottage for six weeks, their food being placed on the
Other childhood memories include
picking cinders from slag-heaps before breakfast; buying corn, which was
cooked and eaten with thick black treacle, from a local flour mill;
buying brewers yeast from the local brewery; and staying to watch the
"I Hated School", she declares; and
she rarely went. Her father taught her to read but to this day she
cannot write. At the age of 16 she joined Bagley’s as a bottle washer
and there met her first husband, Jonathon Price. They were married at
St. Botolph’s Church and lived on Primrose Hill.
Mr. Price suffered the loss of a leg
in the First World War and was able to work only part-time. He died 40
years ago, leaving Mrs Taylor with seven children aged between two and
eighteen years. Thirty years ago she met and married Mr. Fred Taylor, a
miner, who died 11 years ago. Mrs Taylor now lives alone but delights in
recalling, and with pleasure, despite the harder times, how different is
their childhood to what hers was.
2nd November 1968
AIRE STREET STORY CONTINUES
Once again the Aire Street
re-development at Knottingley takes a beating. The contractor who was
supposed to start on the new shops and flats has asked to be released
from this contract. Why, I would like to know? how has this situation
arisen? Surely, when any contract is awarded doesn’t our Council ask the
contractor for a starting and finishing date, and also musn’t he deposit
his bond before the contract is signed by both parties? Has this
happened in this case, and has the contractor forfeited his bond as he
According to my information the
contractor has been evasive about his probable starting date. This
should not be allowed to continue by the officials and members of the
development committee. A straight question should have been asked and a
straight answer requested. The result now is that there has been a delay
of two months with the prospect of a further delay while the powers that
be negotiate with the next lowest tender. This is a ludicrous situation
and it gets worse daily as the Aire Street area gets more derelict.
The Council could help
immediately if it would get the eyesores that it already owns in the
street demolished. Every second shop in the street is without windows or
doors. They are in a very dangerous condition - windows with broken
glass still in and the interiors being used for lavatories. The stench
from some of these shops is nauseating.
Finally, is the Council going to
make full use of its powers under the comprehensive order and get buying
the properties still outstanding? It certainly can’t blame the traders
this time. The buying order under this order should include the piece of
land owned by the County Council at the top end of the area. And on this
subject, I would like to point out to our Council that County Hall is no
God Almighty Himself but a servant of the people who pay the wages.
W.G. Watt, Aire Street, Knottingley.
14th November 1968
'SOCCO VOCE' WRITES ABOUT COLOURFUL INNS
BOTH PAST AND PRESENT
Mention in ‘The Express’ recently of
Knottingley Inns past and present evoked for a former Knottingley
resident memories of many of the old inns and their individualistic and
colourful contributions to the local scene.
He wrote about this world of inns
which, though it may be known to other Knottingley elders, revives again
in a special way the smaller, ‘closer’ Knottingley in which "everyone
was known by everyone" – landlord’s especially. Our correspondent can
even list most of the landlords who were long identified with those inns
in his younger days. So it was that Knottingley characters and people
stamped themselves on the mind and the memories.
The inns themselves seem to have had
their characteristics, too. As examples of entertainment or activity,
the writer recalls that the one time Anchor Inn, in Anchor Yard,
(Taylor’s Yard) in Aire Street, had a skittle alley behind it, and he
remembers the cobblestones in Anchor Yard, and how they stretched away
to be the frontage of Anchor Cottages, (also now demolished) beyond. And
at the Wagon and Horses, still in Aire Street, Jim Holgate had the
town’s first cinema shows.
"Of Course", he added, "I was too
young to go, but the films, as Jim would call them, were broken many
times before being run through finally. Still that was the beginning..."
The mention of pickled
snails reminds him that they were a ‘speciality’ of the Lime Keel Inn,
which stands almost opposite the Bendles, near Cow Lane Bridge. The
snails were sold for the Hospital Sunday Fund, and the writer says: "The
money for the sale of them was wrapped in coloured paper, I believe, and
pinned to the beams of the taproom until the collection at the year
end." He remembers Knottingley’s pride in its Hospital Sunday effort:
"The late Mr. George Reynolds, who was then secretary, I think, set out
to create a record of £400 and did so; but in later years left the
figure far behind."
Of inns once connected with sailors
and the sea he recalls the Jolly Sailor, Sailor’s Home, Boat and Anchor,
and probably one on the former Island Court (Aire Street) whose name he
cannot remember, but which he associates with a licensee named Raddings.
Incidentally, Raddings is a well-known Knottingley name connected with
seafaring. (If a mere lad dare put a word in here, it would be for the
Roper’s Arms, off Cow Lane. Knottingley had for many years a ropery at
Stocking Lane where boys watched the slow machine twisting the strands
as it passed along a long length of rail and the very name ‘Ropewalk’
suggests that there was once a ropery in that area. Again a thought of
sailors and the sea.
Our correspondent sets out - with
the exception of the newer ones south of the railway - all the
Knottingley inns as he remembers them in the older part of the town. The
Red Lion (Fearnley Green); Beehive
(near Shepherd’s Bridge); Lamb, (in its original position between Racca
Green and Fearnley Green, Weeland Road ); the new ‘Lamb’ (being
opposite); Boat and Jolly Sailor, (on opposite sides of the canal
between Shepherd’s Bridge and Cow Lane Bridge); Cherry Tree, (Marsh
End); Buck, Anchor, George, Royal Oak, (Aire Street’s south side); Aire
Street Hotel, Wagon and Horses, Sailors Home, (north side); two
Commercials, (one in the Bendles, the other opposite Station Road);
Greyhound, (almost opposite Police Station in Weeland Road); Anvil,
(near Anvil Bridge );
Along Hilltop on the South side were
the Rising Sun, Bay Horse, L & Y and Railway Hotel (both Station Road);
Duke of York and Potter’s Arms, (the Holes area) and the picturesque old
Swan, (between Gaggs Bridge and the Town Hall).
No doubt it is a fair exercise for
absent former residents to remember how many of those inns are gone or
no longer inns and how many remain, but a start on the past one at
least, today, can be made with the Beehive, the Old Swan (as distinct to
the new Swan south of the railway) Greyhound, Anchor, George, old Lamb,
Jolly Sailor, Royal Oak, Boat. Of course south of the railway, there are
the Winston, the Green Bottle and the Wall Bottle.
Yes a great deal of history and old
associations can be recalled by the patchwork of the inns of any town
both by those who frequented them and those that did not.
Years in Focus is researched by
Maurice Haigh and reproduced
with the permission of the Pontefract & Castleford Express.
[Focus Years Index]