Goring House

Goring House and Stan Barstow - Author

Goring House, Ossett Common, once the home of author Stan Barstow, is virtually all that remains of an ambitious project at the end of the 19th century to develop part of Ossett Common as a "Little Harrogate" by Batley Carr entrepreneur and manufacturer, Mathew Wharton.

In 1884, part of the Ossett Spa estate land was taken over by Wharton, with the aim of developing it as the "New Montpelier Pleasure Grounds" with extensive gardens, a boating lake, rides and amusements. Sadly, the venture was no more successful than the rest of several other "Little Harrogate" schemes in England and by June 1884, Wharton was bankrupt. Wharton had a history of financial failures in the textile and entertainment businesses, including the loss of £1,000 leasing a pier on the Isle of Man.

Goring House was built by John Tennant, who was a business associate of Mathew Wharton. Tennant was a Dewsbury builder, property developer and auctioneer. In April 1888, he committed suicide at the age of 49 years in one of the bedrooms of Goring House after he also encountered severe financial difficulties.

At the inquest, it was stated that the deceased gentleman was strong and healthy, but since Christmas last had been in low spirits, having had trouble in his business and lost a great deal of money. In his pocket was a letter dated the previous day to his son John Thomas Tennant:- "Dear Son - This is more than I can bear. I blame no-one but myself. Forgive me, and do the best you can for yourself, mother, Clara, Sarah-Ann, and lastly Emily. - Your father in trouble, John Tennant."

In 1896, Goring House was occupied by James Butterworth, an athletic goods manufacturer, with premises in Manor Road, Ossett. Another subsequent owner of the house was Joseph William Bentley, an Ossett mungo manufacturer who had business premises at Ginns Mill (later renamed Hope Mill), in nearby Ossett Spa. Joseph Bentley married in his late 40s and probably moved to Goring House sometime after 1911.

Another owner of Goring House was Bingley born Alfred Kilbank, the Managing Director of Pickles, Ayland and Company, paint manufacturers and contractors who were based at Sowdill Works, Ossett. It is thought that he lived at Goring House until his death in 1952.

Goring House

Above: Goring House with a Virtual Blue Plaque.

Ossett Spa - Little Harrogate
The little Harrogate scheme at Ossett Spa was first mooted in 1879 and in January that year, the "Ossett Observer" reported this:

"It was informed on reliable authority that the first section of a project for transforming Ossett Spa into a second Harrogate, as a summer residence for visitors, is to be immediately carried out. Land has already been purchased, several acres in extent, and the services of an experienced architect engaged to lay out the same into sites for residences, boarding houses and other buildings of a public character. The whole of the streets are to be planted with trees in the continental style."

The lime trees, which still form avenues in Goring Park Avenue and the adjoining streets were planted in 1864, but advertising of the sites for villa residences "to be purchased over a period of six years on a quarterly installment plan" seem to have had no takers and only Goring House stands as a reminder of Mathew Wharton's scheme to develop this part of Ossett.

Goring HOuse July 2019

Above: Goring House in July 2019.

Goring House and Stan Barstow
Renowned English author Stan Barstow (1928-2011) was born in Horbury, but lived for the majority of his life in Ossett from where his wife Connie originated. Both Barstow and his wife were pupils at Ossett Grammar School and their two children Neil and Gillian also attended the same school, by then a Comprehensive. Barstow’s most famous work "A Kind of Loving" was written in 1960 in his spare time whilst he worked as an engineering draughtsman at Woodhead Monroe, who manufactured hydraulic shock absorbers at their Ossett factory.

After the publication of "A Kind of Loving", by the start of 1961 with finances much improved, it was clear that the couple needed a bigger house with space for a study and separate bedrooms for the two children. Goring House, located at Ossett Spa was on the market for £2,400 and was attracting a fair bit of interest. Despite Barstow's wife Connie not being too impressed with the location of Goring House, which was close to the pit stacks of Roundwood Colliery and without the panoramic views of their existing home "Holmedene" on Birchen Avenue, Ossett, they bought the big, roomy detached residence and were to live there for 26 years.

Stan Barstow at the Little Bull

Above: Stan Barstow (right) with friends at the Little Bull pub on Teal Street, Ossett.

Stanley Barstow was born into a working class family in Horbury on the 28th June 1928. He was an only child after the death, in infancy, of an older sibling Kenneth in late 1923. Barstow’s father, Wilfred (1899-1959), a coal miner at Crigglestone Colliery had married Elsie Gosnay (1900-1990) in 1921. The Gosnays were a Horbury mining family like the Barstow family. Stan Barstow once said "There were no writers in the family and there were, in fact, few real readers”.


1. "Ossett People" on ossett.net

2. Ossett Through The Ages (OTTA) - Facebook posts