Above: Rock House. Picture courtesy of Brendan Hughes.
Rock House was built by George Harrop (1813-1892), a wealthy woollen cloth manufacturer and the owner of Albion Mills, Horbury Bridge. Harrop formerly lived at Mansion House in Dale Street, Ossett with grounds of 18 acres. At the time Harrop employed 190 people at Albion Mills, Horbury. By 1874, George Harrop and his family were living at at Green House in Green Park, Ossett, having bought the dwelling for £3,800 from Joseph Thornes. Business at Albion Mills was good and in 1881, Harrop was living with his family at the newly built Rock House, Horbury.
When George Harrop died in 1892, he bequethed the majority of his estate worth £121,725 13s 6d. to his sons Arthur and Joshua Harrop and his son-in-law Joshua Wilson, who all ran businesses as woollen manufacturers. Harrop had been a Director of the Ossett Gas Company since its formation in 1855 and was the Vice-Chairman at the time of his death. He had been at one time the Chairman of the Leeds White Cloth Hall; a trustee of Horbury Common Lands Trust and a senior trustee of the Wesleyan Chapel, Wesley Street, Ossett.
Above: Coach & Horses at the gates of Rock House.
In 1884, George Harrop also bought the nearby cottage(s) known as The Rocks or Rock Cottages. His son, Joshua Harrop, a cloth manufacturer, subsequently inherited Green House, Rock House, Rock Cottages and 7 acres of land at Storrs Hill. The cottages and most of the land was subsequently sold in 1908. It’s not certain that Joshua Harrop ever lived at Rock House following his marriage in 1884 and in 1891 he lived at Raynor Yard, Horbury, but by 1901 he was living alone, a single man, at Cliffe House, Horbury. In a demonstration that money doesn’t always buy happiness, in 1899 Joshua’s wife, Clara Felicity, petitioned for divorce on the grounds of his cruelty and adultery with a Leeds woman called Alice Rose. Joshua cross-claimed that Clara had committed adultery with a Mr. Robert King, also of Leeds, but he later withdrew this claim and admitted his misconduct with Alice. His wife, herself a lady of means, was awarded alimony of £800 per annum (£17,500 pa in current values.) Of course this would be the talk of the town in 1899. Even so, Joshua Harrop remained a wealthy man and he died in 1923 leaving an estate worth £252,500 (£5.5 m in current values.)
Stephen Wilson, April 2016