Weaving Ossett's History

Weaving Ossett's History is a project led by Ossett Community Archive to collect and share yarns about the locality of Ossett and Gawthorpe, West Yorkshire. The yarns are contributed by local (and ex-pat) people of all ages in the areas of heritage which interest them.

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How to get involved
If you have an interest in writing about any aspect of Ossett area history or you are inspired by Ossett heritage to create a piece of creative writing or art, we would love for you to share it as a Yarn as a part of the Weaving Ossett's History project. It can be as long or short, complex or simple as you like.

You can contact lead project partners Ossett Community Archive or Ossett Library to find out more or talk through your idea. We are hoping that through local schools and our partner organisations we can interest as many people as possible in remembering and appreciating Ossett heritage.

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Project Partners so far include:
Ossett Library
Ossett and Gawthorpe Community Archive
Friends of Ossett Library
University of Leeds
Education Ossett Community Trust (EOCT)
Ossett Historical Society
Ossett Civic Trust
Building Ossett Better
Love Ossett
Ossett Town Partnership
Ossett Through The Ages (Facebook Network)
Ossett.net

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Mike and I, first arrived in Ossett in 1959 when the town still had a railway station. Newly married, we moved into a new small bungalow on Spa Croft Road which was called Lynda Avenue in those days. In 1961 our firstborn arrived and we had a beautiful large carriage built pram for her - no folding buggies then. A trip to Wakefield to visit family therefore involved a journey on the train so I would push my pram up Manor Road and along Station Road to the railway station. A journey of possibly a mile. There was usually two or three of us with prams and when the train arrived, the guard would help each of us to lift the pram and baby into the guards-van and off we would go on the ten minute journey to Westgate Station in Wakefield. The return journey was a similar arrangement.
From When Ossett Had a Railway Station by PatriciaatOssett

What sort of thing are you looking for?
Ideally we would like stories to fit in with one of the 8 categories below:
Civic Ossett - Law and order, civic pride, mayors
Leisure in Ossett - Pastimes, hobbies, sports
Places and buildings - Stories of streets, buildings, railways
Growing up in Ossett - Schools, education and the youth of Ossett
Poetry and stories - Short stories and poetry inspired by being an Ossettonian
People and memories - About Ossett people, personal stories of living in Ossett
Festivals and events - Happenings in Ossett, Coal carrying, Maypole, Beercart
Business and commerce - Things made in Ossett, local trades and businesses
Here are some examples so you can see how they could look when finished.


Above is the Ossett coat of arms showing the industries of Ossett. The motto " inutile utile ex arte" roughly translates as "The skill of making the useless, useful". Mungo and shoddy are the materials produced from the recycling of wool waste, hence Ossett's motto. Shoddy is a low grade cloth made from the by-products of wool pressing or from recycled wool. One of its main uses was in the manufacture of soldiers uniforms. It is made from the longer fibre material produced by the recycling process. Mungo is made from the short fibre material and is used to make felt, etc. The BBC video below about the shoddy industry seems to imply that the shoddy manufacturers were “get rich quick” merchants who were out to make large profits out of a poor quality product. This may be true in a very few cases but most were hard working people trying to make a living in difficult times. It is true that the quality of shoddy varied but whether the use of the word “shoddy” for inferior, poor quality things is justified I am not at all sure.
From A Shoddy Yarn by oandgarchive

Opposite the main entrance to Croft House was the two storey lodge of Croft Bank. The bottom half of the bedroom sash windows had frosted glass, so they could not look out and see what was happening across the road. The frosted glass was still there in the 1960’s when the Misses Edwards lived in the house, Dr. Ramsey and family owning Croft Bank and the lodge.
From Croft House and the Whitaker Family –by Ruth Nettleton. by OssettHistoricalSociety

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How can I make a yarn?
See these introductory videos about how the Yarn site works, its free to join and anyone can make a yarn to add to the project. When you have your yarn ready to publish, drop us a line at the Library or Community archive and we will link it to the categories below for you.

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Civic Ossett
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Many of the old station buildings had still not been demolished and The Centre Players, the new drama group in Ossett, needing to raise funds got permission to hold a barbecue and dance on the 19th August, 1967 in the old goods yard buildings. It was a great space and had a glass roof so seemed ideal even if it was raining. Everything was arranged, caterers, the bar, chairs and tables when it was noticed that the vandals had broken a lot of glass in the roof and large pieces were falling down on the space below where the barbecue was to be held! Several members of the group then had the precarious job of going up on the roof and removing all the loose glass to make it safe and cover the area with tarpaulins. I seem to remember that we didn't make any money but it was all good fun and a "last fling" for Ossett Railway Station before it was gone forever.
From When Ossett Had a Railway Station by PatriciaatOssett

Leisure in Ossett
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In 1985 Les joined Wakefield Samaritans and organised a sponsored weight lift to help athletes in need of financial support. He also, at this time, took on twice a week coaching at Snapethorpe School and this lasted for 15 years. He also coached at Leeds Carneigie College. In 1989 he was awarded the “Certificate of Merit” for Service to Yorkshire Sport and Recreation – it seems very well deserved. In the 1990’s he established two disabled table tennis projects and was involved, amongst other things, in the development of a purpose built centre for the Dewsbury Table Tennis League. He also got Kosovan refugees involved in weight lifting, table tennis and chess. He walked The Coast to Coast walk and raised £1,500 and in 2001 walked across Denmark.
From Les D’Arcy – Inspirational Sportsman, Teacher, Poet and Film Star by oandgarchive

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Croft House at the junction of Prospect Road and New Street was built by Joshua Whitaker, who had developed the new street as access to Ossett’s first railway station. It was then bought by the Langley family who owned Perseverance Mill in Dale Street, a mungo and shoddy complex. They were upgrading from an older property fronting onto Little Town End, which was at the rear of the mill.
From Croft House and the Whitaker Family –by Ruth Nettleton. by OssettHistoricalSociety

Places and Buildings


Many of the old station buildings had still not been demolished and The Centre Players, the new drama group in Ossett, needing to raise funds got permission to hold a barbecue and dance on the 19th August, 1967 in the old goods yard buildings. It was a great space and had a glass roof so seemed ideal even if it was raining. Everything was arranged, caterers, the bar, chairs and tables when it was noticed that the vandals had broken a lot of glass in the roof and large pieces were falling down on the space below where the barbecue was to be held! Several members of the group then had the precarious job of going up on the roof and removing all the loose glass to make it safe and cover the area with tarpaulins. I seem to remember that we didn't make any money but it was all good fun and a "last fling" for Ossett Railway Station before it was gone forever.
From When Ossett Had a Railway Station by PatriciaatOssett

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Growing up in Ossett
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Poetry and stories
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This story is based on part of a recording of "a chat" between Arthur and Kathleen Shaw and Samuel Broadhead Nettleton of Greatfield House, Ossett. The original tape has been edited to take out a few irrelevant passages (the stoking of the fire, the time the interviewer's notes were dropped on the floor, etc.) but these are retained on the original tape. I have tried to write my notes and present my images to follow the chat. The tape starts with Mr. Nettleton being asked about Clegg's farm which was at the bottom of Wesley Street. As it is mentioned again later on in the chat my notes about this are given later. Arthur Shaw's mother was Mary Ann Clegg, born 22 February 1893 to Arthur and Lydia Clegg. She is shown as a young girl in one of the photographs with her father on the farm. "O'wd Bob", the farm dog is also on the photo. When he became "O'wd Bob" rather than just "Bob" I do not know. Arthur Clegg wrote the following about him, "At the time of the photograph, about 1902, the cows of this farm were pastured past the Turn 'o the Nook - by Love Lane. At milking time Owd Bob would be sent up Wesley Street and would sit at the field gate until the miners came out of Pildacre Pit (later the Water Works), when one of the miners would open the gate and the dog would bring all the cows down to the farm by himself".
From Sam Broadhead Nettleton Interviews - Nettleton, Clegg and Shaw by oandgarchive

People and Memories


The German invasion of Belgium in 1914 led to refugees flooding out of the country. Many found shelter in the United Kingdom and Ossett was one of the towns which offered a home to them. A group of sixty-six refugees, men, women and children, arrived at Ossett station on 17 October 1914. Led by the Ossett Brass Band and followed by the Boy Scouts and the Church Lads Brigade, they were taken in procession to the Primitive Methodist Sunday School, Queen Street, which was to be their home until the following year. The refugees, most of whom were Flemish speakers, were accompanied by Father Ryan, the priest in charge at St Ignatius' Church in Ossett. Fortunately he spoke both French and Flemish, having spent eight years at a Belgian abbey. Funds to support the refugees were raised from donations and they also received gifts of food and clothing. More refugees arrived in the following weeks. Most were housed in the Sunday School, while others were lodged with families or in rented accommodation. As there was a shortage of labour in Ossett because of the war, the men had no problems in finding work in the town. On the whole the refugees were accepted by the community, although there were grumbles that they were better fed than some of the townspeople. At the year's end the refugees celebrated Christmas and the New Year. On Christmas Eve the Mayor, Councillor Stead, presided over a special tea at the Sunday School which was followed by singing, music and dancing while Santa Claus gave presents to the children. Christmas Day was marked by visits from the Ossett Brass Band and groups of carol singers and dinner included roast beef and plum pudding. On New Year's Eve young people from the Primitive Methodist Chapel joined in celebrations which culminated with the Belgian custom dimming and brightening the lights at midnight.
From Refugees Arrive by OssettHistoricalSociety

There is not room to put all Les’s attributes in the Title. O.K. he was not from Ossett but was born 11th April 1921 in Wakefield. There are numerous pictures on the Ossett and Gawthorpe Community Archive of Les as a teacher at Southdale School but none when he was at Ossett School. At the schools, as well as his normal teaching duties, he coached youngsters to play table tennis, a sport he loved. As a child Les had poor health and at one stage suffered with diptheria that kept him bedridden for many months. This obviously affected his education making his later career even more remarkable. However, in 1935 he started work as a labourer in a chemical factory. In 1939, at the outbreak of war, he joined the RAF where he served with their Police to the end in 1945. He was awarded four service medals and maximum good conduct awards. He married Joyce in 1944 during his service. On coming out of the forces he worked as a labourer but also, at the same time, as a voluntary teacher and night watchman at a cinema. He then studied to become a teacher and qualified in 1949. In the same year he took up a voluntary post at Wakefield YMCA and there he was involved in physical education and sport. In 1954 he set up The Olympic Boys Club. He started his teaching career at Queen’s Street School Normanton. He then taught at Southdale School, Ossett before moving to Ossett School (now Ossett Academy). Whilst at Queen’s Street School he became head of P.E., unpaid Head of Science, Secretary of the Teachers Union, legal representative and National Conference Delegate to the NUT. He had other interests and commitments, too many to mention.
From Les D’Arcy – Inspirational Sportsman, Teacher, Poet and Film Star by oandgarchive

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ACT I: LIGHTING THE FUSE Ossett Sixth Form College ran an enrichment programme throughout the 2014/15 academic year that was designed to offer opportunities to students to partake in alternative activities on a Wednesday afternoon to develop skills. Having not seen one which I found interesting, I identified an opportunity for students in the Sixth Form to work with the Ossett and Gawthorpe Community Archive, and other community groups, in order to try and promote the heritage and history of our town. Initially, I produced a proposal document (in consultation with Mike Adams, Curator of the Ossett and Gawthorpe Community Archive) and presented it to Jenny Wildman, the Deputy Director of Ossett Sixth Form College. In our initial meeting she was very enthusiastic about the opportunity and about the idea, and immediately approved the proposal and gave me authorisation to use the enrichment time to pursue the project. I then began engaging with staff and students in order to build interest and get people involved, and built a strong team consisting of supportive and encouraging staff and hard-working and enthusiastic students. We worked under the internal name of the Humanities and Community Development Commission, or HCDC – our objective being to ensure that all guests at the exhibition left… Thunderstruck.
From The Ossett History Exhibition 2015 by CharlieAdams

Festivals and Events

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Roundwood Gala and ,Ossett Procession 1961 - 65

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Business and Commerce


Mr. Nettleton goes on to talk about his early years, born on his father's butchers shop premises at 9, Wesley Street (later renumbered number 11). As a "babe in arms" the family then moved Highfield Villas on Station Road to live and in 1914 the shop moved to new, specially built, premises in the Market Place. Sam mentions that the front of the premises is in a material known as "white marble" that was made by The Fire-clay Company. The date stone on the premises is 1913. They then talk about the property that had been on the site prior to the new shop being built and say that it was a fish and chip shop that had replaced Mr. David Dewhirst Nettleton's corn and hay merchants (described as "rough stuff" by Sam). It mentions that this building had been built in the 1700's and there was an attached cottage with steps into the entrance of Jubb's Yard. These can be seen in the illustrative photograph. Lands Fold is then mentioned and Mr. Nettleton explains that it was further towards Town End. In fact when looking from Prospect Road it ran from the right of The Railway Tavern (which changed to various names) into the Market Place where the Maypole public house now stands. Lands Fold was demolished in the mid to late 1960's.
From Sam Broadhead Nettleton Interviews - Nettleton, Clegg and Shaw by oandgarchive

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