Ossett - the history of a Yorkshire town


Much of the content of this web site has been the result of detailed research by others. I have been lucky that Ossett historians such as Joan P. Smith, Neville Ashby, and Richard D. Glover have been kind enough to share their work and allow me to use extracts on these Ossett website pages. Their work deserves a wider audience and I have made available downloads of some of their original work in an unabridged format as PDF files.

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The Red Baron and the Vicar of Ossett

Anne-Marie Fawcett has researched and written the fascinating story of how the Reverend George H. Marshall D.S.O, M.A., the vicar of Trinity Church, Ossett, between 1931 and 1943 was linked to the death and burial of the famous WW1 German flying ace, Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron. The full story ios available here as a PDF download.

The Ossett Town Centre Heritage Trail Booklet

In partnership with Ossett Civic Trust (OCT) and Ossett Through The Ages (OTTA), Steve Wilson has created this free 8 page booklet which focuses on the heritage of Ossett town centre. The short booklet is meant to be a taster for the possible production a larger book covering all the historic places of interest in Ossett.

A Roundhouse at South Ossett

Neville Ashby's account of the Roundhouse at Ossett Spa, the probable site of a Newcomen atmospheric steam engine in the late 18th century at Naylor's Pit possibly also known as Lights's Pit. (270K PDF)

The History of Gedham Mill

Richard Glover's detailed history of Gedham Mill, which was established by his grandfather John Henry Glover and Walter Ellis in the early 1900s after being built by originally by Robert Elston Phillips circa 1898. With this study Richard has tried to bring the technical side of the business of mungo manufacturing together with references to the people involved running the company and their episodes during their lifetime, particularly around the First World War and its aftermath. How it affected  not only the Glover family but the prosperity, or otherwise, of the town of Ossett and the people connected with it, reminiscent of the whole Heavy Woollen District.

Gedham Mill, Ossett

A description of Gedham Mill, Ossett by the Royal Concession of the Historical Monuments of England, Yorkshire Textile History dated December 1986 and provided by Richard D. Glover, owner and proprietor of Gedham Mill until closure. (100K PDF)

Highfield House, South Ossett

Joan P. Smith's original and very detailed history of Highfield House in South Ossett, which was presented as an edited version in the Ossett Houses page on this website. Joan's version contains much more background information and additional graphics. (2MB PDF)

Clarendon Villas, South Ossett

The next part of Joan P. Smith's trilogy of grand South Ossett's houses is a detailed history of Clarendon Villas available for download by clicking ont the link above (5MB PDF)

"Whilst researching the material for my first ‘House History’ project, ‘Highfield House & Sowood House’, (2010), I collected a great deal of information concerning other neighbouring land and buildings. After a great deal of thought I decided it was a shame not to make use of this material. The result of this decision was the production of two more Local/House History publications.

My second project ‘The History of the South Ossett Triangle’ is a potted history of the land shaped like a triangle, bordered by three roads, now called Horbury Road, Manor Road and Sowood Lane. On this land was built the Parish Church, the Vicarage and the two Schools. This third project I have called ‘The History of Clarendon Villas and Greystones House’.

These two new books (along with the Highfield and Sowood House one) complete a Trilogy of publications covering all the large houses as well as the Ecclesiastical Buildings on this area of land, built in the 19th Century. Clarendon Villas, is situated on Horbury Road, up the next driveway to Highfield House & Cottage. (Access is now from Vicar Lane)

Joan P. Smith, 2012"

Greystones, South Ossett

The final part of Joan P. Smith's detailed house histories is this history of Greystones, available for download by clicking on the link above (5MB PDF)

This work is part of a much larger publication entitled “The South Ossett Triangle”: copies of which have been deposited in the West Yorks Archives, Newstead Rd., Wakefield; Christ Church South Ossett Parish Centre; Ossett Library and Wakefield & District Family History Society.

A walk to Millbank Lock on the Calder & Hebble canal

Neville Ashby's account of our walk along the Calder & Hebble canal to Millbank Lock at Thornhill on the quest for relics of our local history. (500K PDF)

A walkabout at Ossett Common

Neville Ashby's account of our local history walk around Ossett Common. (500K PDF)

Another walkabout at Ossett Common

Another walkabout at Ossett Common looking at Ossett's rich local history by Neville Ashby. (800K PDF)

A walkabout to Millbank on the 26th January 2011

Neville Ashby's article describing our follow-up walk to Millbank, Thornhill along the banks of the Calder & Hebble canal from Healey, Ossett to look for evidence of the reputed underground canal linking Thornhill Combs colliery to the canal. We then explored the site of the long-forgotten hamlet of Millbank, which existed in the 19th century and the even earlier remnants of the Millbank stone quarry and steam crane that made up the landscape alongside the Calder & Hebble canal during the period of the Industrial Revolution in the reign of Queen Victoria. (370K PDF)

A walkabout in South Ossett on the 18th May 2011

Neville Ashby's write-up of our wander around South Ossett on the lookout for historical remnants of Ossett's rich and varied past. (750K PDF)

A walkabout on the High Road on 16th May 2012

Neville Ashby's excellent write-up described our latest Ossett walk along the ancient High Road through Ossett, which was used in medieval times for herding cattle from place-to-place.

History of the formation of Christ Church, South Ossett 1851-1964

Ossett historian Joan P. Smith has very kindly provided this shortened web version of the history of the formation of Christ Church, South Ossett 1851-1964. Please read this detailed account of how the new South Ossett parish and church were founded and the amazing work of the Reverend Denis Neary who by the sheer force of his character and willpower breathed life into the new parish and church. There are also some truly fascinating extracts from the vicar's log book begun by the Reverend John H. Ward and then continued by other incumbents that give us a real insight into life in Ossett in the 19th and early 20th century. (3.5MB PDF file, 27 pages with many illustrations)

This work is part of a much larger publication entitled “The South Ossett Triangle”: copies of which have been deposited in the West Yorks Archives, Newstead Rd., Wakefield; Christ Church South Ossett Parish Centre; Ossett Library and Wakefield & District Family History Society. A separate publication, containing more detailed information entitled “Christ Church South Ossett, Extracts from the Vicars Log Book", is available from the Society.

History of the RGS Pattern Book Company Ltd, Ossett by Richard Donovan Glover

Richard Glover relates the history of this Ossett company: 1953 - 2005, which employed many Ossett people. By the 1980s, the RGS Group had over 175 employees and a turnover of over £7 million. Ossett Health Village was built on the land of the old Gedham Mill, which at one time housed the RGS Pattern Book Company. After the health centre was built about a third of the land was left, now enabling 34 town houses to be built, called Gedham Mews. This enabled about one hundred extra people to live and shop, right in the town centre.

"By sheer hard work, creativity, innovation and persistence through times good and bad, an Ossett business was born and flourished, employing many people for over half a century. That is my legacy for the town of Ossett."

Richard D. Glover, November 2015


Anne-Marie Fawcett
Anne-Marie Fawcett is a native of Wakefield, but has lived in Ossett for many years after a short spell living in New Zealand.

A talented local historian, she is the founder of the Ossett through the Ages (OTTA) Facebook group which is one of the very few Facebook groups to be archived by the British Library as an important source of local history.

Rachel Driver and Anne-Marie Fawcett

Above: Rachel Driver (left) author of Kid's Corner and Anne-Marie Fawcett at the Spa Baths at Ossett Spa.

Neville Ashby
Neville Ashby has been interested in Ossett history since he was very young. He has spent many hours gathering information from local history books, Ossett Library, the internet and other resources. He has been searching local fields with his metal detector and digging for antique bottles for 30 years. He maintains an extensive collection of local artifacts and ephemera.

Neville, runs his own Internet business dealing buying and selling historic books, documents and post cards / pictures.

Joan P. Smith
Joan P. Smith was born in Horbury Bridge and spent her childhood, including the war years there, but now lives in Ossett.

She was educated at Ossett Grammar School and became a founder Member of Wakefield & District Family History Society, serving in many roles within the Society and in 2014, became the President of the Society.

She was heavily involved as the project co-ordinator for the Wakefield and District Family History Society in the transcription of many Church and Chapel Parish Registers in the Wakefield and Ossett area for publication in booklet form.

Joan runs the excellent Horbury and Ossett Family History web page.

Richard D. Glover
Richard Glover is a well-known historian who has lived in Ossett all his life. He is the author of three local history books and has contributed greatly to Ossett's early history in Medieval times and before.

Richard was the owner of the RGS Pattern Book Company based at Gedham Mills at the Town Hall end of Kingsway, before demolition. Gedham Mill was owned by Richard's father. You can read the history of Gedham Mill and the RGS Pattern Book Company here. Both businesses were major employers in Ossett.