Edward Clay

William Arthur Kendall

Architect and surveyor William Arthur Kendall moved to Ossett at the age of five years in 1862. He lived and worked in the town until his death aged 80 years in 1937. Kendall made a huge contribution to the heritage of Ossett with the design of many of the town’s iconic buildings.

William Kendall

Above: William Arthur Kendall, Ossett Architect and Surveyor.

In 1894 the Ossett Observer reported:

“Good stone buildings have arisen along both sides, and such is the impetus given to the adoption of a more ornamental style of architecture in the erection of new business premises that the appearance of the centre of the borough is altogether changed for the better.”

Below are some of the buildings and monuments William Kendall designed in Ossett.

Conservative Club

Temperance Hall, Illingworth Street

Mechanics Institute and old Library

Pickard Fountain

Liberal Club

Yorkshire Bank and Cussons

Isolation Hospital Storrs Hill

The Gables

Southdale School

William Arthur Kendall was born in the village of Leadenham in Lincolnshire in April 1857, the eldest son of eight children of school teacher Stephen Holliday Kendall and his wife Emma, née North. The couple married in Leeds in August 1853.

William was named after his grandfather William Kendall, whom, like his son Stephen, was a school teacher. He was baptised on the 18th July 1858 at Tadcaster where Stephen and his father William, worked as schoolmasters.

Bank Street

Above: The old Ossett (Free) Grammar School seen from Bank Street.

In early 1862, Stephen Kendall, his wife Emma and their four young children moved from Tadcaster to Ossett where Stephen had taken a job as a schoolmaster at the old Ossett Grammar School that once stood in the Market Place. The Kendall family lived close to the school in Little Townend. Between 1862 and 1866, three more children were born in Ossett: Clara Ann (b. 1862), Alfred Sunderland (b. 1863) and Emma Kendall (b. 1866). By 1880, Stephen Kendall was now the headmaster of Ossett Grammar School and the Kendall family were living at the Headmaster’s house at the school.

In February 1880 William Kendall’s mother Emma died at the age of 55 years and a few weeks later in March, his younger brother Walter Augustin also died aged 21 years. Both were interred at Holy Trinity Churchyard.

1881 proved to be an eventful year for the Kendall family when William’s father Stephen Kendall perhaps still in shock from the loss of his wife and son simply upped and left Ossett and his remaining family.

There was a notice in the Police Gazette on the 1st June 1881 when the police were seeking the whereabouts of Stephen Kendall, Master, Ossett Grammar School.

Stephen Kendall Police Gazette

From later reports in the press, Stephen Kendall had left Ossett for good with a female companion, leaving some outstanding debt. It came at a time when William Kendall was establishing himself as an architect and his first major commission, the Ossett Conservative Club was built in 1881.

It was seven years before William Kendall’s next major work the Temperance Hall was opened on Illingworth Street in 1888. It was described by the "Ossett Observer" as “in the 17th Century style modernised”.

In early 1888 Kendall’s elder married sister, Agnes Louisa Robinson, died at the early age of 32 years while living in Bradford. She was a mother of four young children including their youngest son, born in 1884, whom was named William Arthur like his uncle.

On October 3rd 1888 at Saint Mary’s Church, Rostherne in Cheshire, William Arthur Kendall married Margaret Emma Wilkinson, who was born in Liverpool in 1859, the daughter of East India Agent, George Henry Wilkinson. The couple lived in Ryecroft Street, Ossett after their marriage.

By 1893 the Kendalls moved from Ryecroft Street to Town End, closer to his Bank Street office. The period 1890-1894 was Kendall’s most prolific and brought five significant public building design commissions in Ossett.

Sadly, Margaret died in 1898 aged 38 years. There were no children.

Emma Hanson, née Kendall

After the death of his wife, William Kendall’s married sister Emma Hanson (1866-1932) moved into the Gables with her three children: Louisa, Gladys and Charles. Emma Kendall was born in Ossett in 1866 and was the youngest of Stephen and Emma Kendall’s children. She married wool merchant’s manager William Brotherton Hanson in the June quarter of 1887 in Bradford and their first daughter Louisa was born soon afterwards in late August.

Emma Hanson was living at the Gables at the time of the census in 1901 with daughter Gladys. Her estranged 41 year-old husband William, now a “stuff merchant” (woollen cloth merchant) was living back in Bradford at Chesham Street with a 41 year-old general servant Louisa Varley. Their eldest daughter Louisa Hanson, now aged 13 years was living with her aunt Annie Maria Kendall, a lodging house proprietor at Springfield Place, Leeds. Her son, Charles Kendall Hanson was not traced in the 1901 census, but thought to be away at school.

Emma lived at the Gables as the housekeeper with her children with William Kendall for several years. She later married 79 year-old twice married Frederick Thomas Belt in the Bridlington Registration district in late 1935. Emma Belt died aged 73 in the summer of 1939 in the Driffield area of East Yorkshire.

William Arthur Kendall died at his home at 1, The Gables on the 27th December 1937, at the age of 80 years. He was cremated at Lawnswood Cemetery Leeds on Thursday, 30th December 1937. In his Will, he requested that there be “no flowers and no mourning by request.” He left effects of £6,760 (equivalent to £472,000 in 2021) to Charles Kendall, architect and surveyor and Frank Wardman, inspector rivers board. Frank Wardman was the husband of Kendall's niece Gladys Hanson who lived with him at the Gables.

William Kendall grave

Above: The grave of William Arthur Kendall at Holy Trinity Church, Ossett

His obituary was published on the 1st January 1938 in the “Ossett Observer” as follows:



An old and highly esteemed resident in Mr. William Arthur Kendall, The Gables, Ossett passed away at his home on Monday in his 81st year.

Born in a remote schoolhouse in Leadenham, Lincolnshire, he came to Ossett as a child on his father’s appointment as headmaster of Ossett Grammar School. As a boy he was a member of the Parish Church choir and enjoyed a reputation as a vocalist of exceptional ability. His first occupation was that of a goods clerk, after which he became a pupil teacher and clerk in a Horbury worsted mill. But he utilised all his spare time in the development of his natural inclination towards art and architecture and was a regular student for some years at the Wakefield School of Art.

For a considerable time he was on the staff of Messrs. Sheard and Hansock, architects, Batley, eventually launching out as an architect and surveyor on his own account in Bank-street, Ossett.

During his career he designed many handsome public and private buildings including Southdale Council School, Ossett (in open competition), and schools at Cleethorpes, Ardsley and other places. His design for a public hall at Horbury (also in open competition) was selected, but, the war intervening, the economic position underwent a change, and the scheme was not carried out.


He devoted much of his leisure time to historical research and was a prominent member and past president of Wakefield Paxton Society, member of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Wakefield Historical Society, Wakefield Naturalists Society and Yorkshire Tykes (an exclusive society of 40). He also held the presidency of the Horbury Whitehall Club. He was a regular in attendance at all musical functions in Ossett and district and was a member of the committee of Ossett and Horbury Literary Society, which had a successful run a few years ago.

In his later days he was a prison visitor at Wakefield and took a deep interest in his duties. He had a long association with Ossett Cricket Club and, in recognition of his services, which included the preparation of the plans of the pavilion; he was made a life member. He travelled extensively on the Continent and his well-informed mind and unfailing good humour made him a delightful and entertaining companion.

In 1920 he stood as a candidate for municipal honours, but was beaten by Mr. A. Renshaw by 124 votes. Discussing the matter subsequently, he summed up the position in characteristic fashion, viz., “There were two of us and I was second. It was in the East Ward and badly timed, as the wise men were away.”

Military affairs always made a strong appeal to him; he was a member of the old Volunteers, and when the Great War came on he joined the National Reserve and acted as a musketry instructor to the local V.T.C. He also served on the local Advisory Committee during the recruiting period. His wife died in 1898.


The mortal remains were cremated at Lawnswood, Leeds on Thursday morning, the last sacred rites being performed by the Rev. R.J. Wood of St. Michael’s, Headingley.

The chief mourners were Mr. and Mrs. Belt (brother-in-law and sister); Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kendall (nephew and niece); Mr. and Mrs. F.L. Wardman (niece); Mr. and Mrs. Robertshaw (niece); Mr. W. Kendall Robinson and Mr. W.A. Robinson (nephews).

There were also present Mr. James Fitton, J.P.; Mr. John Fitton; Mr. Frank Fearnside; Mr. Colin Lawrence; Mr. Ernest Glover; Mr. R.P. Shaw; Mr. J. Illingworth (Morley) Mr. and Mrs. Howard Jaggar; Mr. W.A. Smith (president of Ossett Cricket Club); Mr. H.C. Haldane (Clarke Hall, Wakefield); Mr. Abson (Wakefield)and Mrs. Ernest Hepworth. There were no flowers by request. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. J.H. Horsnell."

Ossett's third Blue Plaque was erected in 2021 on the Gables, Station Road in honour of William Arthur Kendall and his nephew Charles Kendall.