Croft House and the Whitaker Family –by Ruth Nettleton.

A short story by Ruth Nettleton about Croft House, New Street, Ossett and the Whitaker family.

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Croft House demolition just starting in 1984.

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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.

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Sandbagging Croft House in 1939.

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The north eastern boundary of Croft House land was Kaye Lane, later to become Intake Lane. Fronting onto this lane they built a terrace of ten stone faced houses to house some of their workforce. Each had a cellar kitchen with water supply and an open drain with grill in the middle of the floor which enabled people to do their washing downstairs. Some people placed an iron bath with its outlet over the drain. With a tin bath, it had to be filled by hand and emptied the same way. Labour was reduced by half. At ground level there was a living room with a bedroom above. A box room occupied the space above the front door. There were no windows to the rear of the terrace because the Langley's wanted to retain their privacy. The toilets were at the end of the ten house block. To the rear of the houses was an area for hanging out the washing. A high stone wall deterred access and prevented sight of activities that went on in the garden and parkland of the big house. At the front was a small garden with a well built stone wall. Pictures of the houses show that each had three chimneys. The fireplace in the bedroom was only used when someone was ill in bed whilst the one in the cellar kitchen would no doubt have included a set pot, with its own fire, built at the side of the fireplace and using the same flue. The set-pot provided the water for washday and was used to boil the white clothes and bed linen to keep them a good colour. These ten houses were so popular that another thirty were built. However two archways were built into the long terrace so that people had at the most only to pass five houses to get to the toilet.

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The Government decreed that all houses should have bathrooms with an indoor toilet, owning these houses created problems – huge investment was needed. The choice was demolition or a new owner who was prepared to update. This entire street of forty houses were taken over by Ossett Corporation who built behind each a single storey addition to accommodate a kitchen and bathroom. With the right to buy many are now in private ownership. Some have even put a rear window in the bedroom. This did not create problems, because when the Langley's down sized, Ossett Corporation purchased Croft House and its grounds in 1927 as Education Offices and Health Clinic for £4,700.

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The Gatehouse Lodge of Croft House, Ossett.

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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.

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