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Village History

This page covers all aspects of village history, if you have any information that we could use please contact us.

Palaeolithic finds in Stanley

In October 1889 two flint hand axes were found at Lee Moor, one was about five inches long and the other about three and a half inches long. Several knives we also found in March 1892 at Lake Lock. These are the earliest dated finds from the Wakefield area and are from the Palaeolithic Period, making them over 10, 000 years old.

Roman Occupation

Roman coins have been found in Stanley. A number were found in 1812 in a field of the Roman Station Farm near Aberford Road, they weighed over 40lbs. It is easy to see why the Romans chose this spot for their camp, at the River Calder end of the ridge that runs from here through Stanley to Lofthouse it looks down over the lower land above the River. Any attacking armys would use the River to enter the area giving the Romans time to mount an attacking force. The Romans would have the advantage of being able to defend the area from higher ground.

There was also found a pot containing 7,198 third brass coins in a field belonging to Smalley Bight Farm in 1905 and dated from the 4th century they were found near the River bank where earth works constructed by the Romans can still be seen. The hoard was probably to pay the Roman troops here in Britain and it is thought the hoard was buried during the time the Scottish invaded England between 361 and 368. This theory is probable as all the coins pre date the year 360. A Roman Road that ran from Lingwell Gate to Pontefract crossed the River Calder at Stanley Ferry. There has been a crossing at the same point on the River since.

The Bronze Age

Like their predecessors the Bronze Age people settled in the Stanley area, over the years a large amount of bronze implements that have been found. At Lake Lock a bronze Celt was found in 1869, this is now held by Wakefield Museum. During this period the dense forest that covered the area was cleared by metal axe, a vast improvement on the stone axe it marked a change in history, never before had the area been cleared of so many trees, the only part of the forest to survive was Outwood, this part of the old forest survived for many centuries. The forest that once covered Stanley was now replaced by arable land, pushing wild animals further back into the Great Out Wood (Outwood). Other Bronze Age finds from the area include eleven bronze implements. These were dredged up from a gravel bed in the River Calder near to Smalley Bight Farm. It is thought the collection was the arms of a band of men that came up the river around 800BC, through some misadventure it is possible the boat sustained damage and sank throwing the implements into the Calder and maybe costing the men their lives. The collection was given to Leeds Museum in 1914 by a Mr W Bartholemew.

The Dark Ages in Stanley

After the Romans left our shores England was open to attack from raiders who constantly came across the North Sea. They were known as Angles who fought their way across the Country overcoming the natives. The Humber Estuary was an ideal entry for attacking forces at that time. The Angles made their way up the River from the North Sea until they reached a suitable place to settle, clearing the woodland they named the area Wacca after their leader (later becoming Wakefield). 300 years later the Vikings took the same routes into the Country, driving out the earlier settlers by burning their houses, killing their families and stealing their belongings. These invaders founded their own villages or thorpes. Stanley was one of these villages. The name Stanley has a Danish denomination, from the word “stan” meaning a stone and “lean” meaning a meadow. 

Stanley in the Middle Ages

During this time the Village was part of the Manor of Wakefield, most of the people were tenants, working the land under the laws of the Manorial System. These people were villeins who were no more than slaves; however a minority were freemen who held land under the Lords governorship. Unlike freemen the tenants or villains had to perform services for the Lord of the Manor, these would include ploughing, sowing, reaping, threshing and carrying to the local mills. They were also expected to join any troops that were defending the Manor from outside attack. In return for this the Lord would grant them a cottage with at least an acre of land and the right to cultivate in the common fields. 

The land granted would be three fields which were divided into strips; each tenant would have one strip in each field. The crops were rotated each year, one field being left to fallow for one year in turn. The property and land would never belong to the tenant but to the Lord. If a man died his home and land would revert back to the Lord, any family the deceased left behind would have to re negotiate to regain the tenancy, and a payment known as a relief would have to be paid. Stanley was a grave ship in the Manor of Wakefield, and each year a grave was elected by the tenants to represent them. There would also be a local constable, responsible for maintaining order and arresting criminals. Another position was that of a local forester, his job was the upkeep of the forests and pailings; other duties were hunting, protecting game birds and controlling the hoards of deer and controlling the river fish.

Another name for Stanley in the middle ages was “The Town in the Great Wood” looking at maps from the time it is easy to see why. The Outwood, 2300 acres in size contained many oak trees and hollies. The wood was crossed by several tracks so gates were needed to separate different areas, keeping in deer amongst other animals.

These areas all had names – Kirkhamgate, Blackgates, Lee Gate, Lingwell Gate, Yarwell Gate, Lofthouse Gate, Carr Gate and Carlton Gate. The people of Stanley were often fined for not maintaining their gates and fences which were Pingle Gate, Harroyd Gate, Fawdingle Gate, Rob Hill Gate, Browneshawe Gate and Smalley Gate. Many documented fines can be found in the court rolls. As the middle Ages came to an end Freeman became more numerous as life on the Manor became more settled and its inhabitants more prosperous. House building increased and several large Halls were built, these were Hatfeild Hall, Stanley Hall, Clarke Hall and Vaux Hall. The growth of the textile industry in the Wakefield area had a big impact on Stanley’s prosperity

Fourteenth Century Court Rolls

Below are some interesting entries from the 14th Century Court Rolls.

Wakefield and its surrounding areas all had ale tasters at this time; funnily enough there was never a refusal of appointment for this job. A Robert Richard was appointed to the job in Stanley at Easter 1315, in 1332 the ale tasters at Stanley were fined 12d for not coming to court to present Defaulters of ale, maybe they were all too drunk!

In 1317 the people of Stanley were fined 5s for not coming to assist in the chase when being called to do so.

Robert le Leper of Stanley in 1331 was fined 12d for the mills in his house continuously grinding barley, the mills were ordered to be destroyed and Robert was condemned to make good the estimated loss to the miller.

In the 1340s the Township of Stanley was frequently fined for not repairing fences and gates of the Outwood allowing the deer to escape.

The Old Park

The names Parkhill and Park Lane amongst others were derived from a Deer Park called “Ye Olde Parke” of Wakefield, which was half a mile south east of the town and extended towards Lee Moor and Outwood. It is first mentioned in the 13th Century and in 1574 the park was described in a survey as “a barren, bushy, thorny place of 340 acres with very few trees, but dotards (decayed trees) and very few deer. The River Calder has washed away 12 acres and there is 16 acres out side the Pale” the pale around the park was some 3 miles in length, also mentioned are 3 other parks that were within a mile and four parks within 6 miles. The survey then went on to recommend that “Ye Olde Park” should be disparked. The people who kept the pales in repair were called “Palesters” perhaps the surname Palister derives from this occupation. The people who attended to the breeding and protection of the animals were called “Warreners” A track or gate which led from Wakefield to the park is today named Warrengate. A Warren was an enclosure reserved for breeding of animals such as rabbits, hares, partridges, pheasants and wild fowl.

The New Park

In 1607 the new park at Outwood seems to have been in 3 sections, Stanley, Brandy Carr and Lindall. A description of the park from the same year describes many felled trees lying on the ground and that some young saplings had been planted. The “Free Burgesses” of Wakefield had right of pasture in the area for “all manner of cattle except goats”. In 1670 Sir Christopher Clapham promoted a bill in the House of Commons for improving the common of Outwood.

The River Calder

The name 'Calder' comes either from the early British meaning 'hard' or violent waters or stream, or possibly from the Celtic, meaning 'river of stones' The course of the River Calder was modeled by glacial waters at the end of the last Ice Age, the bed of the River is sandy clay, almost 30 feet deep. Because of Stanleys position next to the River it offered an ideal location for Neolithic people to settle. It was an ideal hunting ground on the ridges that extend from Lee Moor through Lake Lock to Lofthouse. Along the ground that slopes down from these ridges towards the River many arrow heads have been found. Some of these were found in 1869 at Kitchen Farm. Other finds include Bronze wepons at Smalley Bight Farm, here also Roman coins were found at the side of the River on October 31 1905. 

A ploughman at Smalley Bight Farm struck a terracotta jar that contained 7198 Third Brass Roman coins. Varying in size they were from the first half of the fourth century, all with the exception of five were from the Royal Mints on the continent and North Africa. The hoard was probably to pay the Roman troops here in Britain and it is thought the hoard was buried during the time the Scottish invaded England between 361 and 368. This theory is probable as all the coins pre date the year 360. In 1698 a bill to make the Calder navigable was passed by Parliment, at Stanley the Calder was fordable at Bottomboat and Stanley Ferry. At the time stepping stones were removed at these places so large vessels could pass.

At Bottomboat in 1640 ten people drowned due to the crossing boat being in a poor state, a new one was provided four years later at a cost of £16 4s 6d. Very cold weather started on December 24 1813 and continued for 13 weeks, the River Calder froze and inland waterways were ice bound. Many people skated from Wakefield to Leeds and back, even horses and carts went on the frozen river. Until the 19th century, the Calder was home to large numbers of salmon, but pollution from the textile and chemical industries along its banks led to the death of the salmon population by the mid 19th century. The last salmon on record was caught at Wakefield in 1850.The water quality of the River Calder has improved significantly over the last few years, These improved conditions have helped to increase stocks of fish, including pike and roach and have attracted birds such as kingfishers, which like to live in places where water quality is good.

Stanleys role in the English Civil War

At the time of the Civil War Wakefield was a Royalist stronghold, an attack led by Sir Thomas Fairfax on 20 May 1643 captured the town for the Parliamentarians. Over 1500 troops were taken prisoner along with the Royalist commander, Lieutenant-General Goring. The battle march started at Howley Hall 8 miles away and passed through Ardsley, Outwood and onto Stanley. At Stanley the advance was met by 500 musketeers and some dragoons who had been ordered from Wakefield to delay the advance.

By about half past three Fairfax’s army had reached Stanley Hill and to their surprise stumbled on two troops of musketeers who lined the hedges in the fields known as the Cannonry. Between the top of Stanley Hill, the Old Bar and Little Gun Croft in Stanley Park was a squadron of dragoons who were there to defend a lane that in those days ran from the bottom of Stanley Hill to join the lane at St. Swithens. By four O’clock Fairfax and his men had killed many of these men and taken twenty prisoners to take them within a mile of the city. Fairfax took Goring prisoner in a spectacular victory at Wakefield against heavy odds and within a month had control of Yorkshire

Spa Fold

Built in the 1830s as stables for horses belonging to Messers. R Hudsons and Company. Built from local stone the building is L shaped, and backs onto the spoil heaps from Deep Drop Colliery. The building was converted into seven cottages for local miners after the closure of the Deep Drop Colliery. If you look at the stone walls of the building you can still see the archways in the wall that were bricked up when the building was converted. These cottages have been the home to many village people, the most famous being George Duffield, one of the greatest jockeys of our time who was born in Spa Fold.  

The row has also been the home of many village tales from the last 100 years. My favourite being the story of a man who lived in one of the houses up to them being condemned in the 1980s falling through the upstairs floor whilst in the bath, apparently the floor just gave way! The houses were lived in up to the mid 1980s when after many years of neglect from the local council fell into disrepair, they were boarded up for many years and used as a playground for the village kids. During this time the building was stripped of everything valuable . At one point it was feared they would have to be demolished because of their run down state, but thankfully in the mid 1990s they were restored and are now once again are lived in, only one of the houses was demolished, the one nearest to the road, this particular house had been empty since the 1950s so was too unstable to save.

A description of Stanley 1868

"STANLEY WITH WRENTHORPE, a township in the parish of Wakefield, lower division of Agbrigg wapentake, West Riding county York, 2 miles N.E. of Wakefield, its post town, and 2½ from Normanton railway station. It is situated on the river Calder, and includes the hamlets of Stanley, Lake Lock, Bottom Boat, Stanley Lane End, Lee Moor, Lofthouse Gate, Lingwell Gate, Wrenthorpe Eastmoor, and Newton Lane End. At Lingwell Gate a number of crucibles, moulds, and above 40 lb. weight of silver and copper coins were discovered in 1812, some of which are now in the British Museum. Near this place was a Roman station, as well as at Lake Lock. The battle between Robin Hood and the Pindar of Wakefield was fought in this township. On its southern extremity were the hunting-grounds of the earls of Warren, now converted into farms, which retain the names of Park Lodge, Old Park, and New Park. The extensive collieries in this township are worked by Messrs. Robert Hudson & Co. and Messrs. J. & J. Charlesworth, who employ upwards of 500 persons.

In Ferry Lane and at Field Head are the reservoirs and engines of the Wakefield waterworks, erected in 1839, but largely extended in 1866. The West Riding pauper lunatic asylum is also in this township. Its first buildings were erected in 1818, at a cost of £100,000, and additions have been since made, so as to enable it to receive 1,200 patients. It is one of the largest and best conducted asylums in the country. The Aire and Calder Navigation Company have constructed a commodious canal, which is carried over the Calder by an aqueduct which cost £40,000. The Lancashire and Yorkshire railway also crosses the Calder near Broad Reach by a viaduct. At Wrenthorpe an extensive pottery once existed.

The new line of railway from Outwood to Methley crosses this township, and has a station for passengers at Lake Lock. The population in 1851 was 7,257. There are three ecclesiastical districts, St. Andrew's, Wakefield, St. Peter's, Stanley, and St. Mary Magdalene, Outwood. The charities are two almshouses for widows, and Taylor's gift for putting out apprentices, and for the aged and decrepit. There are National schools at Eastmoor, Lake Lock, Bottom Boat, and Outwood. The Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Wesleyan Reformers have chapels. The principal residences are Hatfield Hall, Stanley Hall, Stanley Lodge, Clark Hall, Steke House, Field Head, Moor House, Outwood Hall, Springfield. S. W. L. Fox, Esq., is lord of the manor.,"

Stanley Toll Road

This ran through Stanley and had a Toll House at the entrance to Bar Lane and the next one at the entrance to Lake Lock Road . This road was operated by a private company and was in use in 1770 , A small charge was made for the use of this road. The Toll House at Lake Lock is now a private house. It operated as a Toll house until 1870. The Toll House at Bar Lane was demolished in the late 1930's.


Old Toll House Bar Lane Junction with Aberford Road

Before being demolished in the 1930s it was used as a sweet shop

Stanley’s contribution to the woollen industry

In the Baines Trade Directory 1822/1830, there is a mention of - John North, John Pickard, William Reyner and John Screw - who were in business in Stanley as twine spinners. The Rev. Burrell of Stanley received evidence from elderly people in Stanley of the manufacture of cloth in houses and small workshops in the 18th century, which he documented as follows;

The premises, late the property of Mr Tomlinson and now in possession of Mr Glover was formerly used as a dwelling, weaving shops and farm buildings. Huffinley's house at the top of Stanley Hill and now the property of Mr Clover and lately covered with slates instead of the former thatch is part of a set of buildings like the last described. The thatched cottages descending Stanley Hill, John Sykes' house and James Thompson's house and at the foot of the hill were the residences of Mr Shackleton, John Stead and Joseph Best respectively, all of whom were tanning weavers, and in Finkin Lane, Erringron's house and Sarah Hartley's were residences of wearers.

Tanning or stuffs of two turmils were made of thread of warp, that is both warp and woof was twisted thread made from hand-comfred warp. Wool was combed by being first placed on one comb fixed to the wall, and then combed by passing a second comb through it several times. The straightened wool was then drawn through a ring by means of both hands in the form of a sliver and was then ready for spinning. The cloth was collected by a Master Dresser and carried to the river by packhorse to be sold in a cloth market such as the ones in Wakefield and Leeds.

Stanley Institute

Situated on Aberford road next to the Chase, The Stanley Institute was built 1897 and served the villagers for many years, facilities included billiards, snooker, darts, dominoes and cards. There was a membership fee that was used towards its upkeep. A Mrs Elizabeth Haigh of Lake Lock, sold the plot of land on which it was built for £10 and it was sold under trust to a group of ten villagers. In the 1930s the Institute members were mostly mine workers from Newmarket Colliery, the Institute closed in the 1940s, probably due to the local cinema and better wages. Afterwards the building was used by the local women’s institute and as the home of the Roman Catholic Church in Stanley. The building is now a private house.


The Institute today

Lane Ends Quarry

The quarry was on the site that is now the community centre, bowling green and health centre. Sandstone from the quarry has been used in the construction of many of the villages older houses. It is believed the house next door to what is now pizza 55 was the quarry managers house. In the 1930s a barbers shop is said to have been in use on the edge of the quarry next to Saint Peters School, it was used by most as a meeting place and was nicknamed 'The Tabernacle' (a wooden hut) most who met there were unable to read would welcome anyone who could read to them from books and newspapers. In parts of the quarry where suitable soil could be found, allotment gardens were cultivated. Holiday Easter Monday, whether early or late, was the day for potato planting, and a large number of men would be there, gardeners, helpers and onlookers who no doubt acted as advisers. The old quarry was landscaped into a car park and park area in the 1970s before the community centre was built around 1990.


The quarry after being landscaped in the 1970s, the old park was built on the land behind the car park      

Workhouse Fold

Workhouse Fold was situated on the junction of Rooks Nest Road and Lane Ends. Build date unknown but records go back as far as 1803. Converted into houses in 1847 when it was bought by the local pit owners.It was made up of back to back housing round a courtyard area. They were demolished in the 1940s and social housing now occupies the site.


Map showing Lane ends in the 1850s, note the vast area of fields between Aberford Road and Lake Lock Road

The Rhubarb Triangle

A nine square mile triangle located between Wakefield, Morley & Rothwell, Stanley lies at the heart of the once great rhubarb empire. Only a few decades ago, more than 90% of the world's forced rhubarb crop was grown in this area. Grown in forcing sheds in winter it preceds the crop grown out doors in the summer. Many Stanley farmers grew the crop making a good living for many years, the demand was so high that many trains carrying only rhubarb were sent to all corners of the country from Stanley Station.

Many areas of land where housing in the village stands today was used to grow the crop. In some parts of the village the old rhubarb forcing sheds still stand today, down by the river at Bottomboat and up to recently on Smalley Bight Farm. Rhubarb flourished in Stanley and the surrounding areas because it seems to have had the ideal combination of conditions necessary to cultivate rhubarb on a large scale, suitable soil, good rainfall, supplies of soot and ash for the soil and plentiful cheap local coal to heat the sheds.

During the Second World War the government controlled the price of forced rhubarb to one shilling per pound to keep it cheap for ordinary people. After the war overseas trade brought cheap tropical fruits, spelling the end for the rhubarb triangle. Through over producing many rhubarb growers in the area went bankrupt, others sold up before they did. Many farmers in Stanley turned there attention to other crops, some sold their land hence housing developments replaced rhubarb fields. Rhubarb is still grown in Stanley, but on a much smaller scale than in the past. And these days it is all grown in the fields in summer.

Bevin Boys

Bevin Boys were young British men conscripted to work in the coal mines from December 1943 until 1948. They were named after Ernest Bevin, the wartime Minister of Labour. Chosen at random from conscripts but also including volunteers, nearly 48,000 Bevin Boys performed vital but largely unrecognised service in the mines, many not being released until years after the second world war 10% of all conscripts18-25 were picked for this service.

The site of the training college for prison officers that stood at the top of Stanley Hill up to 2003 (now a housing estate) was originally built to house local Bevin Boys. Below is an account of a Bevin Boy who worked at Lofthouse Colliery during World War Two.

As the effect of conscription during the Second World War began to be felt, it looked as though there might not be enough men left to keep the country's coal mines - vital to the war effort - going. Harry Schofield, called up at the age of 17 and sent to Lofthouse Colliery, explains: "You had no choice, you see...You got picked out of a hat and if your name came out you were in the mines."

Working underground was dangerous work as Harry Schofield discovered when he went to work at Lofthouse. He found himself working on the night shift: "We were the only ones who worked on nights. Nobody else. We took stuff to the face for the day men. Anything they needed we took down. It only needed one man - well, there were two of us - and the pony."

There's one particular night Harry will never forget: "I went out in front in the Beeston seam at Lofthouse Colliery. We'd just started. We were just going down the seam, just down the loader gate...We'd been college trained to look for bits [coming] down. I said, 'There's bits!' and the old fella says, 'Oh, go on,' so I went forward and the next thing you know, everything's coming down. I was an 18-year-old trapped down the pit on my own at night. Nobody else there, miles down the pit. Eventually that day people came and dug me out."

Harry points out that this happened in the same seam at Lofthouse where, on the night of March 21st 1973, water and sludge poured into the pit trapping seven men. Only one body was eventually recovered.

He doesn't remember what he did in the war with any fondness: "I hated it. I was in almost two years and hated every moment. I had no choice whatsoever." Asked if he'd ever advise anybody else to get a job in the pit, he says: "Don't do it. There's a song about that, isn't there? 'Don't go down the mines, Dad. There's plenty of coal on the top.'" Even at the time Harry believes the role the 'Bevin Boys' played was often misunderstood: "People didn't know the right story. They were saying we were conscientious objectors but we weren't. We were conscripted, we had no choice. It's come out now."

Aberford Road Training College for Prison Officers

Between 1958 and 2003 thousands of trainee prison officers were put through their paces at the training college on Aberford Road . They learnt about x-ray techniques, security, escorting prisoners to courts and between prisons, and forming professional working relationships with inmates. The site was originally built to home Bevin Boys in World War Two, and having been greatly extended and improved was in use for 45 years as the training college.

The last batch of prison offices who trained there graduated on October 10 2003, followed by a formal closing ceremony. Today the site is occupied by a large housing development. They learnt about x-ray techniques, security, escorting prisoners to courts and between prisons, and forming professional working relationships with inmates. The site was originally built to home Bevin Boys in World War Two, and having been greatly extended and improved was in use for 45 years as the training college. The last batch of prison offices who trained there graduated on October 10 2003, followed by a formal closing ceremony. Today the site is occupied by a large housing development.


Training College for Prison Officers on Aberford Road


This area of Stanley was known as king’s land in the Domesday Book. Before the large council estate was built in the 1930s this area of land was a large orchid that had many fruit trees, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. In the 1940s part of it was owned by John Macaulay. Also on the site was the old West Hall Mansion, this was demolished when it was all but a ruin. It was owned by a Mr Scarth Before being demolished to make way for the estate. Built between the 1930s and the 1950s during the countrywide house building program it consists of several streets, some terraced housing but mostly semi detached.

The top part of the estate was built first, to start with there was no roads or street lights and no electricity. The bottom part of the estate was built after the war, 50 houses at a time were built on the playing fields. Eventually the fields we all but built on. There is a large shop at the entrance to the estate that was at one time owned by the former Wakefield head councillor Mr Croxhall. Also next to the site is a school for children with learning difficulties, this has been in use since the 1970s and was originally called West Hall School after the old mansion that stood on the site, it changed it name in 2002 to Kingsland School when the school was rebuilt.

1950s House building

In 1945 most people lived in privately rented houses, often in near slum conditions. Today, many of the villages older residents can recall a childhood lived in a "two up, two down", cold water, gas lights, no electricity, tin bath hung on the wall and an outside loo. The Labour government that came to power after World War Two began the reform in every sphere of people’s lives. The policy for housing provision included tax subsidies for house buyers. But more importantly, for the majority of working class families, a programme of investment in rented council house accommodation.

Several large estates were built in Stanley during the 1950s. Council housing succeeded not only in dramatically raising the standards of housing for working families, it also raised the general standard of house building through the introduction of building standards , which became the standards of demand in the owner occupied sector. Such council led standards included central heating, space and bedroom standard, upstairs bathroom and downstairs toilet. By the mid 1960s, most of the slum housing in the village had been cleared and the supply of housing was at last in surplus. Sadly many of the older houses that were demolished were full of character unlike the new developmentsand were sadly missed.


One of the new housing estates of the 1950s

Photo by Brian Robinson

Stanley Cottage Hospital

Built in 1820 at a cost of £420 the hospital was situated on the junction of Mount Road and Lake Lock Road near where the Chapel of Rest stands today. It was built forthe accommodation of labouring classes, when suffering from disease or accident.

By 1927 the Hospital had closed and was rented as a private residence, the rent received is said to have been used to help pay the salary of a District Nurse.

Meeting minutes

The following is a copy of a meeting held by that Committee on Thursday the 5th of May 1870. There was present; J. B. Charlesworth; J. R. H. Esquires and the Rev. Richard Burell. Mr Charlesworth took the chair. Minutes of the former meeting were read and signed. The following rules were adopted for the government of the hospital.

1) The hospital is designed for the accommodation of the labouring classes, when suffering from disease or accident, and is under the direction of the governors.

2) The funds for the support of the Institution shall be raised by voluntary contributions and a printed statement of the receipts and expenditure shill be yearly furnished to each subscriber.

3) Every annual subscriber of half a guinea or upwards shall be enabled to recommend one patient in each year for every half guinea so subscribed.

4) All subscriptions shall be paid yearly in advance and on the first of October.

5) The Institution consists of a trained nurse and such additional assistance as she may occasionally require.

The friends of the sick will be committed to give their assistance in special cases.

6) The nurse will reside in the Hospital and will take the general management thereof under the direction of the Governors.

7) Every requisite shall be provided in the Hospital and patients may not receive food or drink from other sources without sanction of the medical attendant.

8) Patients will be received either on a payment of a weekly sum, the amount of which will be fixed by the Governors and Warden, or they will be received in the recommendation of subscribers subject to the approbation of the Warden.

9) Application for admission must be made to the Warden.​

The following were appointed to act as a Committee along with the Warden: Mrs Charlesworth, Mrs Macllile, Mrs Croft, Miss Burell, Miss Grosin and Miss Harrison.

It was agreed to ask Dr. Browne's advice for the beds and other requisites.

The first patient in the Cottage Hospital was Mrs Pullance on the 27th October 1870. She had a dislocated thigh.


A bungalow occupies old Cottage hospital site today, the original wall remains

Chapel & Well of Saint Swithen

The Chapel is said to have been situated over the fields between Ferry lane and Stanley hall. The first reference to the Chapel of St. Swithen here comes in a deed of about 1284 which mentions 'land at Wodewelle bordering on the road leading to the Chapel of St Swithen'. This was a heavily wooded area, still called the wood of Wakefield at the time. The chapel was said to have been founded so that Mass could be said for the sick at a time of plague in a place well away from the town itself. There is supposed to have been a hermit living here however it is not known for sure.

The chapel was pulled down in 1571, but the fame of the well continued long after. A Sir Michael Pilkington built a bath house round it, along with a cottage for a caretaker. In the mid-1700s a ghostly funeral procession was reported there on St Mark's Eve making its way to the chapel site, so the area was clearly treated with respect. In about 1766 the Vicar of Kirkthorpe stated that the Well 'was believed by the vulgar to cure many diseases', and in 1822 David Dixon, a Wakefield milkman, remembered the hedges round about being hung with rags. A Miss Denison recalled bathing there in the 1830s, and the Vicar of Wakefield, Samuel Sharpe frequently took a bath there. The Well only declined after a borehole drew off the water, and by 1876 it was drained and no longer in use.


Saint Swithens Spa Cottage

Photo taken in the 1960s The bath house was very popular with the rich people who travelled many miles for the curative waters which they experienced here

Sadly this building has since been demolished Pinders Heath now occupies the site

Photo from the collection of Brian Robinson

Lake Lock Yard

Former canal navigation cottages and workshops, for the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, dated 1802. In 1804 Elias Wright, who was one of the Aire & Calder's two resident engineers reported that better work was now being done more cheaply at the Lake Lock depot. There were 9 carpenters, 4 sawyers, 4 blacksmiths, a block maker with his boy and a sail maker and an assistant. He wrote that "a better set of Workmen are not to be found in any Yard in the Kingdom, not only as to their ability in their Profession but also for their Industry, Sobriety and good Conduct". These grade II listed buildings of stone with stone and Welsh slate roofs, the buildings are a symmetrical arrangement of buildings consisting of a central house breaking forward slightly from the (formerly) 2 cottages. The former 7-bay workshops are set back to each side, with a 9 and 7 bay cart sheds attached to left and right of the houses. Several other buildings that were also part of the yard were demolished many years ago, these included workshops that were on the River Bank. The Yard fell into disrepair and was renovated in the early 1980s.

Robin Hoods Association With Stanley

The village has a suspected link with the medieval folk hero Robin Hood as some of the original legends do mention an "Outwoods" (most likely Outwood) and the original legends also mention a "Stane Lea" (village of Stanley). Also, most of the original Robin Hood ballads have him operating in and around Barnsdale forest which is close to Wakefield and surrounding areas. In 1212 a John Hood and wife appear in Stanley Bottom (Bottomboat) in the year of the childrens crusade.Near Field Head is Pinders Field, said to be the spot on which Robin Hood, Little John and Scarlett fought the Pinder of Wakefield. Probably the areas strongest candidate for being the original Robin Hood is a Robert Hode and he came from Wakefield.

Garden Gate Inn

The mystery house

The exact age of number 19 Intake lane is unknown, it was though to have dated from the early 19th Century, until the building came up for sale in 1982 when V. Stanley Walker & Son Estate Agents did a detailed report on the house. They claimed that from the architecture and after talking to local people that the house was more likely to date back to the 17th Century. It is recorded that the house was known as the Garden Gate Inn as far back as the 19th Century, the ale house would have been almost certainly used by the 500 men that worked at the nearby Shires Pit. It was also later used as a private school house. Before the building was converted in 1982 it had four rooms downstairs and four upstairs, at the time planning permission was granted to convert the building into a three bedroom detached dwelling.


The 1970s Housing Estates

The 1970s saw planners target the North of Wakefield for large scale development. In the late 1970s work started on the Barrett estate just off Canal Lane that was to cover 32 acres of land, and by 1980 plans were submitted to increase the estate by building a further 111 houses. Yorkshire water raised concerns at the time over drainage saying that improvements would be needed to water courses and culverts downstream. However because the plans for the entire estate were passed in 1972 by the old Stanley Urban District Council it was not possible to impose the conditions. The completion of the estate went ahead, and in 1984 the Vicar in Stanley, Rev. Peter Hicks wrote about his concerns on effects of the rapid building work in the parish magazine, His article was named “Who is Stanley – what is she?” and was as follows;


1974 development on Baker Lane

Those who live here think she is the centre of the universe, we think of the old times when there was a Stanley Urban District Council. We think we have an identity within the massive district of Wakefield. We think we are distinctive, with a very special contribution to make to the metropolitan district. We think we have something to give Yorkshire as a whole, but beware; there are those who would strangle us, or even worse, drain our lifeblood. Look at a map and you see Stanley as an area on the North side of Wakefield strung along Aberford Road. Examine it closer and you will see Bottomboat, Lee Moor, Moorhouse, Lime Pit Lane and Ferry Lane... Come even further up to date and you will see hundreds of houses going up and people living In them on the massive estate between Canal Lane and Rooks Nest Road. All these are Stanley and are commentary on the history of the place. Go to the parish records and you will see a picture of what has happened and it is a vivid one, giving the parish its own peculiar character. In 1824 it as the Canal, Bottomboat, and older houses. By 1850 the pits were working; Lee Moor, Lime Pit Lane and Moorhouse to service them. Since the end of Stanley Council we have become a suburb of Wakefield and now the pits have closed.

The place is changing at an amazing rate and so are its needs. Town Planners told the clergy five years ago that development in Wakefield would be north of the River. They said they would be thinking of communities and would encourage centres of interest. Building has gone on apace and these centres have never materialised. There are no playing areas, no pubs, no shops, not even public lavatories on the new estates. There are no centres at all for people to gather, there is no identifiable community at Stanley, in spite of its distinctive history and heritage. Certainly you know what Stanley is. It is that territory that has no common feature that is north of the River that the town planners have decided to despoil.

Now there is an answer to this treat. Stanley does have a connecting link between Ferry Lane and Moorhouse, Bottomboat and Lime Pit Lane, Lake Lock and all that new building – the church itself. There, people see it as a beautiful, useful place, the centre of many lives. It could be more if the planners did but hear. A new estate has been built. It could have roads and access made easier to the shops, to the church school, to the church itself. Church Road could have been rescued from the swamp that it is. There could have been an attempt at saving the heart of Stanley rather than trying to stop everything that is going for the place. Those who love the place will try to make it real with a heart. They will try seeing something here apart from wilderness of building. Those who know the place will see the church and know that it does have a heart that nobody must try to stop it working. Please help to keep the lifeblood flowing… and if you have though all this is about negative, destructive theft, tell somebody to repair Church Road, to make Stanley as healthy as it should be.

Rooks Nest Road Women’s Asylum

The following is a copy of the license given to the asylum in 1854.

In the township of Stanley cum Wrenthorpe, and Parish of Wakefield in the West Riding County of York. Proceedings relative to the pursuant to the Act of Parliament.

A licence was granted to George Atkinson of Rooks Nest Road aforesaid physician and apothecary at the midsummer general quarter of the peace for the West Riding of the County of York held by appointment at Bradford in and for the said Riding on the 27th day of June 1854 before Henry William Wickham Esquire, Chairman, John Plumb Tempest Esquire and other Fellow Justices of the Peace. Know all men that the undersigned Justice of the Peace, acting in and for the West Riding of the County of York, hereby certify that James George Atkinson of Rooks Nest Road in the township of Stanley cum Wrenthorpe in the said West Riding, Physician and Apothecary, hath delivered to the Clerk of the Peace of the said Riding a plan and description of a house and premises to be proposed to be licensed for the reception of lunatics, idiots or persons of unsound mind at Rooks Nest Road in the township of Stanley cum Wrenthorpe aforesaid, and we having considered and approved the same so hereby authorise and empower the said James George Atkinson, he intending to reside therein, to use the said house and premises for female lunatics, idiots and persons unsound mind as a private dwelling for the space of twelve calendar months from the date given under our hands and seats this 27th day of June in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty four.

Lake Lock Fold

Also known as Lamberts Buildings, and by the nickname "Stoney Lump" these four houses stood where the grass verge is today at Lane Ends (opposite the fish shop). Not to be confused with Workhouse Fold, the houses were constructed of stone and faced onto the road at Lane Ends, with a small yard and dry toilets backing onto Long Causeway. One of the houses was home to Fred Burkinshaw, who was regarded as one of the best marksmen in Stanley around. Another story that has been passed down through the generations is of a young girl (my great aunt), aged four, who fell from the wall at the back of one of the houses in 1905. Sadly she died a few days later. The houses were lived in up to the 1950s when they were deemed unfit for habitation and bulldozed to make way for the semi detached housing that now occupies part of the site.

Lake Lock & Canal Lane, where did these names originate?

Lake Lock

The name Lake Lock has an unknown origin in the village. In the past the name has been explained away as coming from a time when the River Calder would flood in the valley bottom resembling a lake. The name actually originated from the Lake family who were land owners in the area some 300 years ago, when the Lock was built on the river. The Lake family worked the lock during those early years (the Lock was near to where Lake Yard is today). It was added after the rivers were made navigable in 1699. Locks and Weirs were built on the River to increase the depth of it so boats could reach places such as Bottomboat for transporting coal.

Canal Lane

In the 1820s the coal kings of Yorkshire, the Fenton’s built a new railroad from their Colliery’s at Outwood to carry coal down to the River Calder for transportation. Records from land sale in this area dating from 1854, and research done by John Goodchild show there may have also been a Canal operated by the Fenton’s close to the hill top above Stanley Church that was worked in connection with the Outwood Colliery’s, however very little is known of it. The road we know today as Canal Lane was shown on an ordinance survey map of 1848 as Canal Hill, and the notice of land sale from 1854 for this area of land noted the name “Fenton’s Canal”. Canal Lane is at least half a mile from the navigable Calder and a steeply falling gradient of at least 150 feet. It is more likely the name referred to a navigable level into the hillside, or possibly a project that was never completed. There was no Parliamentary authority ever sought for any kind of Canal project and no documentation has ever been found relating to it. Over time the name Fenton’s Canal was changed to Canal Lane.

The Abson Family

The oldest inhabitants of Stanley, coming originally from Normandy. They settled in Stanley and to show how well they have stuck to their English domicile we quote the following extract from a survey of the Wakefield Soke (the right to a holding of a local Court) signed on Christmas Day 1300. “John Abson of Stanley - the tenement, oxgang and six acres for 6/_. The same John Abson holds the 7 part of an acre for 2d. The shall make the Dam and grind at Wakefield for the oxgang and three acres. He shall hunt at his Lords Hunt (Earl of Warrene) as often as so be required without reward.”

In 1902 the following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post ‘Last Sunday at the house of her son, Joseph Abson, Stanley, the family of Mrs Sarah Abson, widow of Mr George Abson of Lofthouse, entertained the venerable old lady to tea on her 90 birthday. Born 22 February 1811, she has lived under 5 sovereigns. She remembers the birth of Queen Victoria and the Coronation of William 4, the year she was married. She is able to recall with feeling akin to horror the visits of the Pressgangs to her fathers house during the Napoleonic Wars, also the peace rejoicings after Waterloo, when her mother rode horseback through Cock Pit Houses (now Lee Moor) with a white lamb upon her knee, emblematic of peace at last.’

The following article featured in the Wakefield Express March 2 1901 ‘ It is a coincidence that Mrs Absons great great grand daughter symbolised peace in the League of Nations Tableau at the Wakefield and West Riding Pageant 1933. The Abson family seems to be largely confined in Yorkshire, especially the Wakefield District. One indication that they may have spread farther afield is that at Port Said there is a stone bearing the sign ‘Absons’. Perhaps the founder made his way to Egypt from Wakefield District. There are 26 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren to Sarah Abson.

Intake Lane

By Mike Barley

We lived at 14 Intake Lane, this row of terrace houses was known to us all as Shires Row. Where the present YEB sub-station is (behind and to the right of the Wagon) is roughly where the end gable wall of a row of stone cottages was. There was a track going down past the front of these and at the end the track turned left into Mr Todd's farmyard. The farmhouse was attached to the back of the cottages and the stables came off at right angles to the farm house. 

The back wall of the stables was a continuation of the gable end to the front row of cottages. This formed the wall to the right hand side of the track which went past the right hand end of Shires Row and you could either continue down the track and over some rough ground past Mr & Mrs Hughes's bungalow and on to the edge of the brick council houses estate or go round the back of Shires Row to the derelict blacksmith shop, then some stone cottages with the lavatories at the far end. The individual patches of gardens had the odd air raid shelter in them with hen sheds and fenced of areas and loads of vegetable plots. This area stretched down to the pit shaft and the sloping brick winding house for the old colliery. We used to play in the winding house - if that was what it was.

As I've said at the other end of the row was the outside lavatories which were split into several houses per lavatory and every body took turns cleaning them (I suppose). Don't think they were used much during the night.

Other memories I have from living there are my Mum contacting her large family in Leeds using the phone box outside Brearley’s to phone the shops where her sisters lived to leave a message for them. They would then use their phone boxes to phone back at a certain time the following night. There was a button A or B on the front or the side of the box, where you put your money in through the slots in the top of the box, to either get through to the number you rang if they answered or get your money back if they didn't. 

Intake Lane Photos

From 1953 courtesy of Mike Barley


This photo was taken at the end of what is now Orchard Avenue showing the stone cottages adjacent to the quarry. On the right hand side is the outsales entrance to the Wagon & Horses


Wagon & Horses on the right hand side (not in view). To the left are some terrace houses going down to Lane Ends fish shop


Local residents against the wall of farmer Bramleys mistle, Shires Row Intake Lane


Three lads down the vegetable plots and hen sheds behind Shiers Row Intake Lane

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