Before our Town Hall, there was actually a school there. The old Grammar School.
It was demolished and the land sold for £5,700.
To build the Town Hall cost £15,000.
The foundation stone (a large stone to show the start of building something important) was laid in 1906. It was very snowy that day.
The clock at the top of the building was a gift. From the daughters of a former Mayor, Joseph Ward.
It was officially opened on 2nd June 1908, by Mayor J. T. Marsden.
The building was decorated with flowers, bunting and flags with over 12,000 people attending the celebration.
The public hall was opened sooner than the rest, in December 1907. The date is above the doorway facing the co-op. See if you can spot it. It was opened for a very grand choral concert.
As well as the large public hall with its big stage and balcony, other rooms were a courtroom, council meeting rooms, Mayor’s parlour, store rooms and offices. There are also dressing rooms in the basement for performers of the stage.
There is a very famous organ in the Town Hall. Installed back in 1970. It’s called the Compton organ. It’s known around the world to have a wonderful sound especially in big halls like the public hall. There are lots of pipes underneath the hall to make sure that sound remains fabulous!
There are to be huge alterations to the Town Hall soon. The Library will move there for good. And a lift is to be installed. This will make sure our Town Hall remains at the heart of Ossett.
One thing I didn’t mention that the Town Hall has, is a jail. So, make sure you behave!
Trinity Church had its foundation stone placed on 30th June 1862 by the vicar the Reverend Thomas Lee.
The original cost of the build was supposed to be £8,000. It ended up costing £16,000.
We all see the church spire and know that we are nearly home. It’s one of the tallest in Yorkshire. There are 158 steps up to the top section of the church. The last few that are over the huge church bells are quite scary!
On a clear day, you can see all the way to York Minster.
The original clock now has an electric winder which was changed in the 1970’s. Before that somebody had the job of climbing those steps to wind it up!
The church bells ring every Thursday and Sunday. And chime every 15 minutes and on the hour.
In the church itself, look for mice. Pieces of furniture, made by Robert Thompson were marked with a hand carved mouse. See if you can see them......
The stained glass windows were made by the best glass makers of that time. Usually dedicated to a family. They look particularly impressive in the sun.
The graveyard is the final resting place of over 16,000 people since 1860. As you’ve read above, the church wasn’t built until 1862 but this graveyard was already there. The largest of the memorials are at the entrance of the graveyard. The bigger the memorial, the more money you had.
There are gaps in the graveyard where you would think nobody is buried. But there are bodies buried. Sometimes on top of each other. It was just that they didn’t have enough money to buy a headstone.
But not all the information on the gravestones is correct. There is one grave, which is for Martha Godley. She died in 1898. On February 31st.
What’s wrong with that?
Don’t forget to watch out for that spire. So wherever you’ve been, you know you’re nearly home.
Above: The location of Martha Godley's grave at Trinity Church. Picture of William Austerfield stood in front of the grave is courtesy of Jo Austerfield. The gravestone is shown on the right with Martha's name engraved below that of Daniel Overend.
Gawthorpe Water Tower was constructed sometime between 1922 and 1928 at the highest point of the Ossett and Gawthorpe area.
The concrete tower is 55m tall and is a local landmark that can be seen for miles around.
It was used to store drinking water for the town.
It has the capacity to hold nearly a million litres and provided water for the people of Ossett until 1974.
The top of the tower is currently used for mobile phone aerials.
Our War Memorial has been in the town since 1928.
It hasn’t always been in its current position. It was first unveiled on the bottom of Kingsway. Just about where the mini roundabout is. It was there until 1954.
When the roads around Ossett were changing, the Memorial was moved closer to the Town Hall until 2001.
Its current position is in the town centre and unlikely to change. The inscription on the memorial says the following:-
TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN OF THIS TOWN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918 AND THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE WORLD WAR 1939-1945.
In 2019 a small team of people arranged for these soldiers to be remembered by their name. You can see each and every name memorialised on the granite surrounding the memorial. Each soldier has been researched and now, remembered.
Built in the 1860s for the Ellis family, owners of Victoria Mills. The Ellis brothers made their money from selling cloth for uniforms to both sides of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).
Sadly as taxes were introduced, many mills suffered and the house was put up for sale.
They sold the house to Ossett Borough Council who for a short while used it as a hospital for smallpox patients.
Alterations began to make the building into a school. The first in the area to have mixed boy/girl classes.
It was opened on 24th September 1906 as the Grammar School.
It’s still part of the Academy to this day.
Ossett’s Fire Station is now situated on Silkwood Business Park having moved from Dale Street.
But did you know there was a Fire Station in Ossett a long time before that?
The first picture shows the Firemen on a training exercise. The second shows the Fire Engine parked up outside the watch window when the Fire Station was on Illingworth Street.
This station was opened in 1908, it moved to Dale Street in 1972.
There’s not much left for you to see of it ever being there. Apart from one thing. At the back of Illingworth Street car park, you will notice some shiny tiles. These were part of the Fire Station toilets!
Maybe you’d like to look? Or maybe not.
Photographs courtesy of Roger Hepworth and Mike Ambler
We have lots of wonderful buildings in Ossett.
Sadly, this is one we don’t have anymore.
It was where King’s Way Church is now. On Wesley Street.
This chapel was built between 1866 and 1868. At the time, it was the third largest in the country. The front part of the church was very grand and decorative. The other three sides were quite plain.
It was demolished in 1961. There’s not much to show it was ever there. But, can you see the railings around the church? They were reused. At Green Park.
The Temperance Hall on Illingworth Street was the meeting place for Ossett’s Temperance Movement.
They was a group of people who were very much against public houses and people drinking alcohol in general.
They tried to stop licences being issued for the sale of alcohol.
The Hall itself was built back in 1888 at a cost of £1,500. It was designed by W. A. Kendall who designed lots of buildings in Ossett.
When the foundation stone was laid, there was a type of "time capsule" placed underneath. It was a bottle containing various things, including copies of the Ossett Observer newspaper, a new shilling and a new threepence.
The building is still there. So obviously, the bottle is too.
They must have had a hard job stopping people drinking alcohol in Ossett. Do you know how many pubs there were then?
There were many Co-ops in Ossett. The largest by far, was in Ossett town centre.
Although the current Co-op is practical, the previous one was far grander.
It was built in 1873 and 1884 and was split into various sections. They included, Electrical, Bakery, Shoes, Greengrocers, Butchers and Housewares.
In 1988, the Co-op was taken over and closed in 1993.
It was demolished and rebuilt using much of the same stone. Recycling at its best!
It reopened in its current form in September 1998.
There were three religious buildings on this site where Southdale Road meets The Green, the first one dating back to 1732.
This particular one in the photograph above was built in 1883. It was huge!
The Sunday School was next door.
The graveyard for the church was opposite. It was demolished in 1973.
The picture above shows the houses on Ossett Green built on the site of the Congregational Church.
The Church was built in 1851 at a cost of £2,120
There were 1900 burials here between 1851 and 1889.
A man was buried upright in the hope that he could spring to his feet on the day of Resurrection (should there be life after death) I wonder if he did?
When the graveyard was full, bodies were buried at St John’s on South Parade. And eventually moved to Manor Road in 1920.
The headstones in front of the church were taken down in the late 1960s when the road in front was widened. Some line the pathway leading up to the church.
The amateur dramatic group The Elizabethans started here by the Choirmaster Arthur Hebb. They went on to perform many successful productions.
They no longer exist but local groups like Ossett Youth Theatre and Priory Players perform regularly.
A Pinfold is a pen for stray animals.
Back in the 1800s, there were animals roaming around the town freely. It wasn’t unusual to see cows and sheep in Ossett. Can you imagine that now?
The Pinder had an important job. Any cows or sheep found roaming around or wandering into the road were taken to the Pinfold until it’s owner could collect it.
The cost of a cows release was one shilling (approx £6 in today’s money) and the cost of a sheep’s release was four pence (approx £2 in today’s money).
This Pinfold in Ossett dates back to 1871.
There was a medieval Pinfold that was on Dale Street. There is no sign of that now so we need to look after this one.
The workhouse was located on Wakefield Road, in Flushdyke.
The workhouse was for the poor of Ossett. We know it was in existence in 1780 but it was probably there much earlier. By 1834 it was one of the largest in the area, housing 80 inmates.
Above: The Ossett Workhouse and Workhouse Yard was located in the grassed area to the right and behind the red brick warehouse building on Wakefield Road, Flushdyke.
Upon entering the workhouse, men, women and children were separated. They were bathed, their hair cut and given a uniform. Families were brought together only twice a week. Once during the week and once on a Sunday.
When families lost a husband or father in the war, it often meant that their families could end up in the workhouse through no fault of their own.
Above: Children and staff at a typical 19th century Workhouse located at Crumpsall in Manchester. The scenes at the Ossett Workhouse would have been similar.
They were sometimes encouraged to sell their children so as not to have the authorities pay for them.
The food was poor. They were given bread, cheese gruel (thin porridge with cheese) and potatoes. The women were given chores of laundry, cooking and cleaning. The men were given the arduous task of stone breaking (to make roads) and bone crushing (to make fertiliser). We know at Flushdyke that some of the paupers were also involved in spinning yarn.
The stigma of the workhouse could stay with you forever. Thankfully in later years, the laws were changed to assist the inmates and they were given the opportunity to get out and have a future.
After 1837, Ossett’s poor were sent to the Dewsbury workhouse and Ossett’s workhouse was demolished.
We have many listed buildings in Ossett. Three are fairly close together in the town centre. The majestic Town Hall needs no explanation, neither does the imposing War Memorial, both listed buildings. Can you believe the third is the red dilapidated phone box by the side of Richmonds butchers?
The phone box was listed back in 1988. It is a K6 cast iron kiosk and was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V.
It is understood that Ossett Civic Society are to adopt it, and have lots of ideas for it’s future. Others have been used as libraries, art exhibits and even a bar!
What do you think is a good idea?