A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE
Notton has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 – “In Notone there are six carucates of land for geld where four ploughs can be. Of this land four carucates are in the soc of Tateshalla (Tanshelf) and two carucates in land. Godric had a hall here. Now Ilbert (de Lacey) has two socmen and three bordars there and half a plough. Pasturable wood, half a league in length and half in breadth. In the time of Edward this was worth twenty shillings”. Other records show about twenty-five inhabitants in five households.
A later record is a grant of land to the Church at Pontefract by the same Ilbert de Lacey. Other ecclesiastic foundations had interests in land at Notton – the monks of Monk Bretton Priory, the canons of Nostell Priory, and the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem and St John of Pontefract all held some land in Notton at various times.
From Ilbert the manor passed through various hands to John Darcy who had a licence to inpark in 1330 (Notton Woods are the remains of this park). However by 1340 the estate, which included Woolley, belonged to William de Notton whose manor house possibly occupied the present site of nos 53 -59 George Lane. The land around was cultivated under the strip system by serfs and cottars living in the village, who paid rents in kind to the lord and tithes to the Church. In 1379 there were fifty-three adults in about fourteen households: the village was evidently growing because by 1672 there were 30 households paying hearth tax.
In 1377 a John Woodrove bought the estate from Sir William de Fynchenden , and various Woodroves continued in ownership until 1599 when all the estate lands in Woolley and Notton were sold to Michael Wentworth. The Wentworth family built and remodelled Woolley Hall and held the land until just after the Second World War. Until the estate was broken up at this time all the land, farms and houses in the village were held by tenants of the estate.
The village is in the ecclesiastic parish of Royston. There had been a church in Royston since Saxon times and the present building was built by the monks of Monk Bretton Priory, first dedicated in 1240, but much of the building is later.
Some of the mediaeval ways or lanes in the parish can still be seen: Smawell Lane, Keeper (or Mucky) Lane, part of Woolley Mill Lane, Applehaigh (or Abbledy) Lane, and the track up the field towards Newmillerdam, which was called Handswell Lane. There is also the remains of a sunken lane leading north towards the village from the western end of Applehaigh Clough.
The Barnsley – Wakefield turnpike, now the A61, was built in the 1700s as a toll road: the remains of the quarries used for getting stone can still be seen at the side of it. One milestone remains in the parish, just north of George Lane. The road was diverted away from Woolley Hall in 1818, at the same time as New Road was built, along with the construction of the gateway to the Hall. There are two tunnels under the turnpike, connecting the parkland around Woolley Hall with the lake at Woolley Dam.
The Barnsley Canal was opened in 1799 and carried coal and grain. It fell into disuse before the War and closed in 1960. The various railways came to Notton in 1866 and later, initially for carrying coal. A projected line which would have run north-south through the middle of the village was opposed by the Woolley Estate and abandoned but not before the cutting, which can still be seen south of Applehaigh Clough, and known as the Barnsley Stump, had been excavated. There was a station at Old Royston, later moved to the northern end of Royston itself. One of the rail bridges (the narrow one) was possibly built by Robert Stephenson.
Some old houses remain in the village but many earlier buildings, probably built of wood, cob, and thatch, which were grouped round the eight farmsteads shown on earlier maps have disappeared. Most of the villagers were farmers and agricultural labourers, but early census records indicate a number of other occupations such as shepherd, millwright, smith, and miller. A number of mills are recorded: Woolley Mill Dam was used for corn milling and later as a saw mill, and the remains of a dam can still be seen in Applehaigh Clough.
There are no records of mining within the present Parish area, but Harrison’s plant yard on Chevet Lane was originally Monkton Colliery No 5 pit, sunk in 1928 to improve access for men and materials. No 5 closed in the late 1960s, and was then used for some time as a joinery works. There are the remains of quarries up Applehaigh Clough and off Mill Lane.
A piped water supply was laid to the village in 1935, but sewage disposal was by septic tanks, except for the Bleakley area which had its own sewage works where Green Lane joins Bleakley Lane. All the effluent is now pumped from the Smawell Lane pumphouse to the works north of the old railway. Construction of this new sewerage system in 1964 opened the way for the development of the village with the Ingswell, Manor Close and High Ash estates, and later Willow Beck and the redevelopment of some of the old farmsteads.
The village is in the Wakefield Metropolitan District and as a Unitary authority this Council provides all services. There is a Parish Council, with five members, which looks after the Village Green, the playground at the Village Hall, and the allotments, amongst other things.
The Village Hall was first opened in 1950, using an ex-RAF hut which was replaced by the present building in 1983. The Hall is a Registered Charity, independent of the Parish Council, administered by local Trustees and run by volunteers. It relies entirely on fundraising and income from letting, and is available for hire. An aerial photo showing the village with the old ex-RAF hut is shown in the ‘Images of our Village’ link from the homepage.
RAILWAYS IN NOTTON
The following images are of the railways previously running in the Parish of Notton. The footpath / cycleway between Old Royston and Newmillerdam was originally part of a branch of the Midland Railway intended as a direct route to Bradford and Scotland, avoiding Leeds. The project was abandoned through lack of funding when the route reached Thornhill Junction. It was opened in 1905 and closed to scheduled trains in 1968.
Royston Junction (Old Royston) was on the line built from Derby to Leeds in 1840. The signalbox at Royston Junction controlled the mainline, the branch line and the marshaling yard at Monckton serving the colliery and cokeworks.
The bridleway from Applehaigh Lane to Station Road in Royston gave access to Royston and Notton station. The line from Barnsley to Notton was opened in 1870. The remnants of the bridge over the road at Royston can still be seen as can the embankment which supported the station.
PICTURE BELOW: (left) Freight train joining the mainline from the Thornhill branch; (right) interior of Royston Junction signal box
PICTURE BELOW: Breakdown train heading South on the mainline with remains of the branch line visible.