Ossett Pictures - Temperance Hall

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The Temperance Movement began in America in the late 1700's, and was chiefly propelled by the church. In England in March 1832 a Mr Joseph Livesey started a Temperance Movement in Preston, which required followers to sign a pledge of total abstinence from alcoholic drink. Bands Of Hope were formed all over the country, and the Temperance Movement in England gained popularity throughout Queen Victoria's reign.

On Wednesday 10th September 1879, the premises formerly occupied by Mr J. G. Wiseman, surgeon, at the corner of Dearden Street, fronting Queen Street & Bank Street, were opened by Mr Hallgarth as a Temperance Movement coffee house.

The rooms formerly occupied by the Liberal Club, on the third floor of the Co-Operative buildings, Dale Street, were formally opened for the purposes of a Temperance Club on Saturday, 24th May 1884. There was a procession, speeches were made etc, followed by a tea in the Assembly Rooms, The Green, Ossett.

Although the old Temperance Society in Ossett had purchased land in West Wells in 1866 to build the town's first Temperance Hall, the movement never raised enough money to do so. It was reported in the Ossett Observer, Nov 14 1885:

"Ossett Temperance Society bought an eligible plot of ground near the junction of West Wells Road with Queen Street & Bank Street, for the purpose of erecting a Temperance Hall thereon. The purchase money and expenses amounted to close on £200. Most of this was raised by subscription, and by means of bazaar. The scheme has remained in abeyance until recently. Of late, an increased need of "a local habitation and a name" has been felt by the temperance community, and a few active workers canvassed for subscriptions to pay off £60 which was outstanding. This been done, a meeting was convened by advertising and placard to elect a building committee and take steps to put the ground to the use intended. The meeting was held in the evening of wednesday 11th November 1885, in the lecture hall of the Assembly Rooms, The Green. It was unanimously resolved that steps be taken to provide a Temperance Hall for Ossett.

Ossett Local Board of Health thought that the building would be too large for the site, leaving a narrow entrance into West Wells."


In 1887, the trustees of the land exchanged with the Local Board of Health for a plot on the corner of Illingworth Street and Prospect Road. The new Temperance Hall was built at a cost of £1,500 in 1888 to a design by architect W.A. Kendall. Part of the cost was made up from borrowing, but the debt was fully cleared in three years.

The Temperance Hall was built in the '17th Century modernised' style and had a main room that could hold 470 people with another 80 in the gallery. The new Ossett Council rented the Temperance Hall for meetings until the Town Hall was completed in 1908.

The Ossett Temperance and Mutual Improvement Society was set up to provide support for teetotallers and they were strongly opposed to public houses and the taking of alcohol. In 1894, by means of vigorous campaigning they were able to persuade local magistrates not to grant a licence for a new public house in Ossett to be called 'The Empress'. In 1914, Ossett had 34 taverns or public houses, two more than in 1870.

Feb 20 1886: At Ossett Local Board's meeting of Feb 15th the Temperance Hall plan for West Wells was discussed. Several board members objected to the plan on the grounds that it would be so near the road that at one point it would only leave it seven yards wide. Mr W. Towned personally thought that a site in Prospect Road would be a better one for such a building, and supported the formation of a committee to negotiate with the Temperance Society.

Two nights later a deputation from the society met the board, and the discusion "was somewhat irregularly conducted"... nearly two hours elapsed before the deputation took their departure. The suggested site had frontages to Prospect Road and Illingworth Lane (sic), each of which were due to be widened soon to ten yards. The Temperance Society were not happy with the proposals.

Mar 6 1886: At Ossett Local Board's meeting of March 1st it was resolved that they offer to exchange the present intended plot for the one in Prospect Road / Illingworth Lane, which is 60 yards larger; the 60 yards being in compensation for a building on the society's existing plot.

May 15 1886: The clerk at Ossett Local Board's meeting (10th) laid before the board a letter from the Local Government Board sanctioning the exchange of 517 square yards of land in Prospect Road, belonging to the board, for the land owned by the Temperance Society at West Wells.

It was thought about throughout the summer of 1886, for six months later it is reported:

Nov 6 1886: On tuesday evening (2nd) a meeting of members of Ossett Temperance Society was convened at the Grammar School in the town centre. It was for the purpose of authorising the acceptance of land offered by the local board in exchange for the plot belonging to the society, purchased nearly 20 years ago. The exchange was agreed to.

Dec 25 1886: It was agreed at Ossett Local Board's meeting (21st) that the seal be attached to the agreement to exchange 417 square yards of land in West Wells for 517 square yards at the corner of Prospect Road and Illingworth Lane, for the purpose of a Temperance Hall.

Mar 5 1887: At a private meeting of the Temperance Society on thursday (3rd) evening, subscriptions amounting to nearly £150 were promised towards the erection of a Temperance Hall.

Sep 24 1887: On saturday last (17th) a tea meeting was held under the auspices of the Ossett Band Of Hope Union, at the Primitive Methodist schoolroom, Queen Street, in furtherance of the proposed Temperance Hall. A plan, prepared by local architect W. A. Kendall, was laid before the meeting, and explained and discussed. It generally received approval, although a few alterations were suggested. The cost was estimated at roughly £1100.

As a reminder of the popularity of the temperance movement in Ossett at this time it was reported -

Oct 8 1887: The Temperance Saloon in Bank Street: On saturday (1st) it completed 39 years of its existence, and this was celebrated with a tea, concert and ball, held by the kind permission of Mr Eli Townend in his warehouse.

Dec 10 1887: On saturday last (3rd) the foundation stone of the Temperance Hall was laid by the mayor of Leeds. A bottle was placed under the foundation stone, containing copies of the Ossett Observer, Cockburn's Ossett Almanack & Yearbook For 1887, the programme of the day's proceedings, the "Alliance News", the "Band Of Hope Chronicle", a new shilling and a new threepence, and a list of the building committee, trustees and temperance workers.

Building work commenced immediately, and continued throughout the winter and into the spring and summer of 1888, when -

Aug 25 1888: The opening of the new Temperance Hall is advertised to take place today.

Sep 1 1888: The foundation stone of the Temperance Hall was laid on 3rd December 1887 by the mayor of Leeds. One end of the building abuts on Prospect Road and the front faces onto the short street formerly known as Illingworth Lane, but recently widened and much improved, and re-named Victoria Street.
The opening ceremony was performed by John Wm Smith, treasurer of the building committee. A short procession was formed in the market place, headed by the Ossett Brass & Reed Band, and this walked to the front of the hall, at the entrance of which a silver key was presented to J. W. Smith by Revd. E. J. Saxton, formerly of Ossett. Mr Smith opened the door, and a large number of people entered the hall. Speeches were given, after which about 300 people sat down to tea in the hall.