Ferrybridge is a village in West Yorkshire, England at a historically important crossing of the River Aire. It is linked to other communities by the A1, which follows the route of the Great North Road.
The history of Ferrybridge - and its neighbour, Knottingley - dates back to the establishment of Anglo-Saxon settlements along this stretch of the river. The respective histories of the two settlements of Ferrybridge and Knottingley are closely linked, bringing glassmaking, shipbuilding, brewing and potteries to the area.
An archaeological feature at Ferrybridge is Ferrybridge Henge, a prehistoric ceremonial monument dating back to the Neolithic period, constructed during the period 4,500-1,500 B.C. when monuments of this kind began to appear. Ferrybridge Henge is one of the oldest remaining antiquities in the local area. Recently a 2,400-year-old chariot burial was discovered there.
Ferrybridge stands where the Great North Road crosses the River Aire. In 1198, a bridge was built over the river. The first recorded crossings of the river at Ferrybridge date from the bridge's construction. The bridge was rebuilt at the end of the 14th century with seven pillars and a chantry chapel at one end. Until 1810, a toll was payable to cross the bridge.
In March 1461, on the eve of the battle of nearby Towton, an engagement between the Lancastrians and Yorkists ended in a Lancastrian victory, and Lord Fitzwalter, the Yorkist leader was killed. This is known as the Battle of Ferrybridge.
Up to the end of the 17th century, Knottingley was an important inland port in the West Riding as the River Aire was not navigable beyond it. The construction of the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal (by a 1699 Act of Parliament; this was the first navigation scheme passed by Act of Parliament) diminished Knottingley's importance as a port by allowing barges on the river to navigate further upstream to Leeds.
Parliament authorized a new canal in 1820. Cutting through the centre of Knottingley, the new Aire and Calder Navigation Canal was opened in 1826 and connected the new port of Goole with the River Aire at Ferrybridge. The lock at Ferrybridge opened at 10 a.m. on 20 July 1826.
In the 20th century, three power stations were built. The newest of the three, Ferrybridge 'C' Power Station (Ferrybridge Power Station) dominates the skyline around the village. Three of its cooling towers collapsed in high winds in 1965.