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Wakefield and the five towns – Part Six; Knottingley


Wakefield and the five towns

The City of Wakefield is a local government district of West Yorkshire, England, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough. Wakefield is the district’s administrative centre. The district includes the “Five Towns” of Normanton, Pontefract, Featherstone, Castleford and Knottingley. Other towns include Ossett, Hemsworth, South Kirkby & Moorthorpe and South Elmsall. Wakefield lies between Leeds and Sheffield and is ranked as the 87th largest city in the European Union. In 2010, Wakefield was named as the UK’s third ‘most musical’ City by PRS for Music

Profile on Knottingley

Knottingley is a town within the metropolitan borough of the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England on the River Aire and the A1 road. It has a population of 13,503

Until 1699, it was an important inland river port but, in that year, the Aire was made navigable as far as Leeds. Nonetheless, Knottingley remained a centre for boat building into the twentieth century. After 1870, the town also became known for glass manufacturing.

The town is served by Knottingley railway station.

Knottingley is famous as a glass manufacturing town[2], and in 1887 Bagley’s Glassworks purchased the rights to the first bottle making machine invented by a Ferrybridge postmaster

Close to Knottingley is the Ferrybridge Power Station which has the largest cooling towers of its kind in Europe. These towers can be seen for miles around. One of the oldest purpose built cinemas in England is still standing in Aire Street, but has now been converted into flats.

The town is one of the few in the United Kingdom to still have a working coal mine – Kellingley Colliery.


St Botolph’s Church

Knottingley means “the clearing of Cnotta’s people”, from the Old English personal name Cnotta meaning “knot“, describing a small, round man and –ingas “people of” + leāh “wood, modern lee, not the same meaning as Leah (personal name)”. The name was recorded as Cnotinesleahemm in 1128.

During the three Sieges of Pontefract Castle, Oliver Cromwell took residence in the town of Knottingley, believed to be in Wildbore House. Wildbore house was demolished and the land beneath was turned into a quarry for the limestone underneath.

Knottingley, inextricably linked with Ferrybridge, is a West Yorkshire town whose history is tied to travel and industry, and which has managed to retain certain elements of that industrial history as thriving enterprises today, providing employment for many of its population of some 17,000. It was originally an Anglo-Saxon settlement, though the ancient monument of Ferrybridge Henge shows it was significant long before then.

The crossing over the Aire at Ferrybridge was of importance for many centuries. A bridge was built there in 1198, and another to replace it two centuries later. Located on the Great North Road linking London with York and Edinburgh beyond that, the town became an important staging place for the coach traffic on that route. The traffic continued to develop until in 1804 it was necessary to build a wider bridge to cope. This bridge was also made higher to allow easier passage of the barge traffic on the Aire and Calder Navigation.

Knottingley was an inland port of some note, the last navigable point on the Aire until the Aire and Calder Navigation enabled barges to make it to Leeds. There were shipyards in the town, building and maintaining both inland vessels and seagoing ones. Pottery was a significant industry for the town from the 19th century until as late as the 1940s, when the Australian pottery, opened to cater for that country’s needs, finally closed. Glass was also important, and remains so. And the town has Kellingley colliery still operating, helped by the proximity of the huge power station at Ferrybridge.

Knottingley is a central point for racing fans, with Pontefract, York, Wetherby and Doncaster all close by.


Knottingley currently has one high school, Knottingley High School and Sports College.

There are a number of primary schools: England Lane Junior and Infant School, Ferrybridge Infant School, Ferrybridge Roundhill Junior School, Knottingley Church of England Junior and Infant School, Knottingley Vale Junior and Infant School, Simpsons Lane Junior and Infant School and Throstle Farm Junior, Infant and Nursery School.

There are sixth-form colleges in nearby Pontefract, Wakefield and Selby.

Notable people

Famous Knottingley residents (past and present),include:-


It is also the last place in the British Empire to have a Bear-baiting arena. You cannot access Knottingley, nor get out for that matter, without going over/under a bridge.

Source : Wikipedia 2010

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