At the junction of Main Street, Pool Bank New Road and Arthington Lane lies this attractive tree and garden area known as Stocks Hill, giving a lovely backcloth to Main Street. How long it had been there is not known but the area may well date from the early days of the medieval Lords of the Manor of Pool. A map of 1756, drawn up for Thomas Thornhill, Lord of the Manor of Pool at that time, shows there to be a building on this land. It is known there was a thatched cottage with a blacksmith’s forge together with stocks supposedly used to shoe horses. The story is that the stocks were 5ft high – some tall horses! However similar stocks at Leathley were also 5ft high, having a pillar with shackle-irons near the top, perhaps it was used as a whipping-post. It would seem very likely therefore that the Pool stocks had a similar use.
William Rawling, was, at the birth of his daughter Mary in 1732, described in Otley Parish Register as a Pool blacksmith and is understood to have lived here in a thatched bungalow. He died in 1782 and is buried in St. Wilfrids. The Bains Directory of 1821 shows Joseph Snell, a blacksmith, was living here, followed by his son William Snell 1841. On the Tythe map of 1849 William Snell is quoted as having a house, shop and yard on this land. He also had Sparrow Croft which was the land attached to the Bar House on Arthington Lane which stretched down to the River Wharfe. This is also shown on the 1756 map.
Around 1902 the property and area were sold by Hannah Pullein,a member of Pool’s the Lord of the Manor, to Tom Swallow of Troutbeck, Arthington Lane. The far-sighted Mr. Swallow saw the need for a small rest garden containing shrubs, plants and a rockery, which he built at this own expense. A low wall with iron railings was built around it. Unfortunately, in the opinion of Pool Parish Council, he had encroached several inches onto the highway and they insisted the wall be removed. Annoyed and upset, Mr. Swallow transported everything to his own “Troutbeck” garden and let the site to a hoarding builder and according to William Whiteley there was “one of the biggest bill posting boards on this site for a number of years”. As a consequence in 1919, because of this “unpleasantness” which had upset her late husband, Mrs. Emily Swallow originally refused sell Stocks Hill to the Pool Parish Council.
Joe Whiteley outside his butcher’s shop on Stocks Hill
Several wooden huts were soon erected and for the next fifty years, at various times, housed shoe maker and repairer Freddie Knowles who was there from 1919 to 1955, Podmore the hairdresser/barber, Joe Whiteley, the butcher (Joe Whiteley had moved from the back of Mill Lane, near Wharfe Crescent), Wigglesworth greengrocer and Tankards electricians. For a time there was a pie and pea shop.
Another large hut was occupied by Mr. “Polly” Parker who had a garage and ran a taxi service. The local boys would sit on the wall opposite waiting for cars to come along. Their imaginations let them assume the reflections in the windows of the garage would be just like going to the cinema! In order to oil their roller skates they would stand in his tin of drained oil. “This left a horrible mess all down Main Street as we skated home!”
“Cobbler Knowles” outside his shop in 1938
The cobbler/shoemaker Freddie Knowles, known as “Cobbler Knowles”, was also a keen fisherman. Hanging on the walls of his hut were many glass cases of stuffed fish. As well as cobbling and making shoes and clogs, he repaired fishing tackle and made fishing flies. The shop had a cast iron stove around which villagers loved to sit and chat. A good fishing club was in the village with meetings held in an upstairs room of the White Hart which had many stuffed fish in cases. The fishing club was not allowed to fish in the River Wharfe at Pool until the stretch of water was bought by Whiteley’s mill. Club fishing trips were organised to other waters. During WW2 one of the rooms within his hut displayed a large bomb.
Eventually in May 1949 a member of the Swallow family, Gertrude Harmer Swallow-Verral agreed to sell Stocks Hill for the “betterment of the village”, to Pool Parish Council for £85 plus costs. A condition was that Mr. Knowles and other shop tenants were to be given a five year lease allowing them to continue trading. (In June 1952 Pool Parish Council had considered Stocks Hill and the area behind the War Memorial, as possible places for public loos!)
By 1955 the shops, now empty, were sold by Pool Parish Council for £12. Realising the need to once again have a pleasant green area, the money was put towards the renovation of the land which the Pool Parish Council agreed was for “the betterment of the village”.
Committee members 1957
For a short time Stocks Hill was then used to display a “thermometer”. This recorded money received by many money raising efforts of the villagers, for the building of Pool Village Memorial Hall. The amount required is marked on the thermometer as £13,000, a large amount for a population of a little over a thousand. Later the thermometer was moved to outside the foundations of the new Memorial Hall being built on Arthington Lane.
In 1956 Conways submitted a layout for the area. £100 was to be paid by Pool Parish Council which had been collected from rents and the sale of the shops, with the Whiteley family agreeing to pay the balance. The stocks and wall were built by the local woodworking company of Stephen Kaye & Son, whose works were on Arthington Lane. The wooden semi-circular seat was also made by them and donated by Holmes Whiteley. The renovated area was officially opened in 1958.
Two wooden plant holders were given by the Pool Branch of the Women’s Institute in 1990 to celebrate the Organisations’ 75 years. In 2002 slight alterations were made to the area during road improvements and the building of a small roundabout at the nearby road junction. The area is now gardened by the local company “Guardian Angels”.