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Ossett Town Hall
Ossett is located in West Yorkshire
 Ossett shown within West Yorkshire
Population 21,076 
OS grid reference
Metropolitan borough City of Wakefield
Shire county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town OSSETT
Postcode district WF5
Dialling code 01924
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Wakefield
List of places

Ossett is a market town within the metropolitan district of the City of Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is located near junction 40 of the M1 motorway, half-way between Dewsbury, to the west, and Wakefield, to the east. In the 2001 census, it was classified as part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area.[1] The town is roughly half-way between the west and east coasts of England.


  • History 1
    • Toponymy 1.1
    • Origins 1.2
    • Industrial Revolution 1.3
    • Second World War 1.4
    • Spa 1.5
  • Governance 2
  • Geography 3
    • Climate 3.1
  • Demography 4
  • Economy 5
  • Landmarks 6
  • Transport 7
  • Education 8
  • Religion 9
  • Sport 10
  • Culture and media 11
  • Notable people 12
  • See also 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15



Ossett derives from the Anglo Saxon and is either "the fold of a man named Osla" or " a fold frequented by blackbirds".[2] Ossett is sometimes misspelled as "Osset". In Ellis' On Early English Pronunciation, one of the founding works of British linguistics, the incorrect spelling is used.[3] The British Library has an online dialect study that uses the spelling.[4]


Ossett appears in the 1086 Domesday Book as "Osleset", which was in the Manor of Wakefield. The Domesday book was compiled for William the Conqueror in 1086. "Osleset" was recorded as three and a half Carucates which is the land needed to be ploughed by three teams of eight oxen. Woodland pasture measured "half a league long as much broad" (roughly six furlongs by six furlongs). Four villans and three bordars lived in Osleset, a villan was an upper status villager, a bordar was a lower status villager.

Industrial Revolution

Coal-mining was, up to the late 1960s, Ossett's second industry in terms of people employed and the first in terms of males employed. Coal has been mined since the 14th century and there were a large number of pits in Ossett during the 19th century. The pits included Old Roundwood, opened in 1851 mining the Gawthorpe seam. The Haigh Moor seam opened in 1860 and the Silkstone seam opened in 1893. Pildacre pit shut due to flooding in 1875 but remained as a source of water for Ossett. Westfield shut in the early 1900s. The Chidswell riot in 1893 was caused by striking miners trying to reach Westfield to stop other miners working. Another pit down Healey Road was also the scene of tension between police and striking miners. Low Laithes pit shut in 1926, however the seams later flooded and were responsible for the Lofthouse Colliery disaster in 1973. Greatfield shut in the 1950s, Old Roundwood shut in 1966 and Shaw Cross, on the Ossett/Dewsbury border near the current Dewsbury Rugby League stadium, closed in 1968.

The steam engine at Runtlings Mill in 1987.

Author and local resident Stan Barstow said that Ossett and Horbury were the "border country" where the north-west of the coalfield merged with the south-east of the wool towns. Local historian John Goodchild said, "The place was essentially one of small mines and small mills". The town was once a thriving centre of the "shoddy" industry; recycling woollen garments. Whilst some mill towns employed mostly females in its textile sector, Ossett's mills always had roughly equal numbers of men and women. The town's mills were generally small, but they had a reputation as high-quality producers. Whitehead's Mill used to have a carnival float that said "We Export to the World" at the Gawthorpe May Pole parade.

During the 1970s, Woodhead Manufacturing employed 1,500 people on this site in its two premises fronting Church Street and Kingsway. The shock absorber business was the last part of the site operations to close in the early 1990s. The site is now a housing estate and Woodhead's exists in name only and is run from an industrial estate in Leeds. There is however, a large old 'mill type' building situated on Church Street, which still shows Woodhead signage in large blue lettering, on the buildings' facade. The building however, is in a very derelict and dangerous state, largely due to vandalism. Arson has been the greatest damage inflicted, leaving the buildings' roof black and charred. Also a lack of upkeep is to blame for its current state. It has had building work attempted many times in the past, but never completed and still remains in a derelict state that until now and is now being converted into apartments The yard and building has a large stone wall and locked iron gates to the front, which edges right up to the pavement on Church Street, and high metal fencing to the rear, which edges up to a grassed area next to the large housing estate. The housing estate situated at the rear, is fairly large and has a selection of mixed style and sized modern houses and four storey flats, occupied by singletons, couples and families.

Second World War

In the Second World War, Ossett was accidentally bombed on 16 September 1940.[5] Ten High Explosive bombs were dropped. No one was killed, save for a number of chickens and several properties were damaged.[6] A V-1's engine was reportedly heard to cut out, and came down at Grange Moor, to the west of the town.


Ossett was, for a brief period in the 19th century, a spa town.[7] Having been founded by a local stonemason who was inspired by Harrogate and Cheltenham, the waters were popular with those seeking relief from certain skin diseases in the early 19th century, but it remained a small spa during this period. In the 1870s, a plan to transform Ossett into a "second Harrogate" ended in failure, and the spa closed as a result. The south-east of the town is still known as "Ossett Spa".


Although not granted by the College of Arms, this icon was adopted for the former Municipal Borough of Ossett.

Ossett cum Gawthorpe was a township in the ancient parish of Dewsbury;[8] it became a civil parish in 1866, and was incorporated as the Municipal Borough of Ossett in 1890.[9] Under the Local Government Act 1972, it became an unparished area in the City of Wakefield. In an earlier draft of the Act, Ossett was to be part of the Kirklees district on the grounds that the area was originally part of Dewsbury; after an appeal by the Ossett Labour Party, it was decided Ossett would be part of the Wakefield district.[10]

Ossett has changed its parliamentary constituency several times. In 1983, the town transferred from the Dewsbury seat to the Normanton constituency. The seat has been continually represented by Labour since 1885: longer than any other British constituency.

Since the 2010 election, Ossett has been part of the Wakefield seat, held by Mary Creagh.[11] When Ossett was part of the Dewsbury constituency, the MP was David Ginsburg, one of the Labour MPs who defected to the Social Democratic Party. On transferring to the Normanton constituency, the MP for many years was Bill O'Brien until he entered the House of Lords and was succeeded by Ed Balls.

Most of the town is in the Ossett ward on the local council, but the south-eastern part of the town is in the Horbury and South Ossett ward. There is a small area of Ossett (defined within the pre-1974 boundaries) in the Wakefield West ward, but this is mostly a business area with few residents. The Ossett ward is extremely marginal, and has been won over the last ten years by Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and UKIP candidates. As of 24 May 2014, the ward is represented by one councillor each from Labour, Conservative and UKIP. Horbury and South Ossett is less of a marginal seat and is represented by three Labour concillors as of 24 May 2014, although it has elected Conservatives in some past elections.



Ossett experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Ossett, West Yorkshire 1981–2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6
Average low °C (°F) 0.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 111.5
Average rainy days 15.7 13.2 13.7 10.9 10.9 11.5 10.1 11.9 11.4 14.1 15.8 15.2 154.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 51.5 64.8 96 134.2 167.1 153.5 172.5 161 126.6 101.3 57.8 50.2 1,336.5
Source: Met Office[12]


Ossett town centre, showing the town hall building

At the 2001 census, the town's population was 20,988 residents plus an extra 88 in communal establishments, making a total of 21,076.[13] As of 2007, West Yorkshire Police estimate the population at 21,284.[14] Ossett's convenient proximity to the M1 motorway has led the old industrial town to become more affluent in recent years, attracting both industry and resident commuters to Leeds, following on from a period of economic decline that lasted almost three decades. This however does leave Ossett with higher priced housing compared to nearby areas.

Ossett has some of the lowest crime rates in West Yorkshire.[14]


There are four operational textile mills in the town: Ings Mill, on Dale Street, deals in recycled textiles; Burmatex Ltd, based at Victoria Mills on The Green produce carpet tiles; Edward Clay & Son Ltd, Wesley Street manufactures felts for the mattress making and horticultural industries and Wilson Briggs & Son by the River Calder off Healey Road deals with textile mill waste and remnant processing. Other have been converted into units, some of the most prominent being Royd's Mill on the Leeds Road roundabout and the large congregation of mills in the Healey area. Some mills remain derelict.

Ossett is home to two real ale breweries. Ossett Brewery, located in Healey[15][16] and Bob's Brewing Company, formerly The Red Lion Brewery.[17]


Ossett Town Hall Square

Trinity Church was consecrated in 1865 and its spire which rises to 226 feet is a landmark that can be seen for miles around. A red phone booth in Ossett town centre, opposite the Kingsway roundabout, is a grade II listed building.[18] Ossett Town Hall celebrated its centenary in June 2008.[19] Gawthorpe, an area of north Ossett, is known for its landmark water tower. and the famous Cock & Bottle Pub


The Romans constructed a road from Halifax to Wakefield, this road became a turnpike road in 1741, its route is roughly similar to the modern day Dewsbury Road. Streetside Post Office is a reminder of the Roman origins of the road. The M1 motorway between Junctions 40 and 42 to the east of Ossett was opened in April 1967. The stretch from junction 38 to 40 was opened in October 1968. The Highways Agency have plans to widen the M1 to 4 lanes between Chesterfield and Leeds. In 2004 a bus station was opened in the town built by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive replacing an earlier bus station constructed in the 1970s.

The railways arrived in Ossett in 1862 when the Bradford, Wakefield & Leeds Railway company opened a branch line to Flushdyke. The line was extended to Ossett in 1864 and then onto Dewsbury and Batley. Ossett railway station, located roughly where Southdale Gardens now is, was opened in 1889 by the Great Northern Railway. The line ran underneath Station Road and the bump in the road today is the only reminder of the bridge that used to exist there until its removal in the 1980s. The railway station closed in 1964. The town was close to four other railway stations: Chickenley Heath closed in 1911, Earlsheaton in 1953, Flushdyke closed in 1941 and Horbury & Ossett in 1970. It is now the largest town in Yorkshire and one of the largest towns in Britain without a railway station. Railway sidings and yards are still to be found at the old Horbury & Ossett railway station site and Healey Mills Marshalling Yard where Queen Elizabeth II spent a night aboard the royal train during her 1977 Silver Jubilee tour.

In June 2009, the Association of Train Operating Companies proposed Ossett, as one of seven English towns with a strong business case for the location of a new railway station. It is likely that an unmanned station would be erected at Healey Mills.[20]


Ossett has eight primary schools; Flushdyke School, Towngate Primary School;[21] Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, St Ignatius's Catholic Primary School, South Parade Primary School, South Ossett Infants School, Southdale C of E Junior School and Dimplewell Infants School. Ossett has two secondary schools, Ossett Academy & Sixth Form College, and Highfield School which caters for children aged 11 to 16 who have learning difficulties, using the buildings of North Ossett High School which closed in 1997.[22]


Holy Trinity Church, Ossett, viewed from Dale Street

There are seven churches in the town, each with their own particular identities and initiatives. Many of the leaders of these churches meet regularly to collaborate and support each other. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the town had a reputation as a centre of religious Nonconformism.[23] Although Nonconformist churches were common all over West Yorkshire, Ossett was a particular hotbed. In 1890, seventeen different churches were recorded in Ossett, excluding "spiritualist churches". Trinity Church is one of the two Anglican churches in the town.[24] The other is Christ Church, South Ossett. St Mary's Church on Dewsbury Road closed in 2002, and its parish was divided between Dewsbury (Chickenley) and Ossett and Gawthorpe (Gawthorpe).

St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church was built in 1878. The Salvation Army is the only church in Gawthorpe. The Salvation Army building also acts as a community centre providing dinners for senior citizens & two parent & toddler groups. There is also a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on Ventnor Way, and a spiritualist church in the town centre.


Ossett Rugby[25] are based at Ossett Cricket and Athletic Club and play at Southdale playing fields, current 1st and 2nd XV captains are Mark Ward and Clinton North respectively.

Ossett Trinity, the local rugby league club, resigned from the Rugby League Conference in 2006. Ossett Cricket Club also play at Dimplewells. The Heavy Woollen District has its own cricket association and its own cricket team. Residents of Ossett are eligible to play for the Heavy Woollen District team.

Ossett hosts two semi-professional football teams, both currently playing in the Northern Premier League Division One North: Ossett Town play at Ingfield, and neighbours Ossett Albion play at Queen's Terrace, more commonly known as Dimplewells. There was an Ossett Football Club in the 1890s, they played in the original West Yorkshire League, but the oldest current club in Ossett is Ossett Common Rovers, formed in 1910 and currently playing in the modern West Yorkshire League. Other clubs in Ossett include Ossett Wanderers, Ossett United and Ossett Panthers. Little Bull F.C., Ossett Two Brewers and AFC Two Brewers play in the Wakefield & District League.

The Yorkshire and the Humber branch of the Disability Sports Federation has its headquarters on the Longlands Industrial Estate in the town.

Culture and media

The Wakefield Express and the Dewsbury Reporter report local news. The Wakefield Express publishes an Ossett Edition, and also contains an Ossett and district section. Ossett has a free magazine The Ossett Review[26] established in July 2005. The Ossett Civic Trust produce a quarterly newsletter Ossett Times.[27]

Gawthorpe hosts the annual World Coal-Carrying Championships[28] (Easter Monday) and an annual Maypole parade in May. Ossett Gala takes place in July. The turning on of the Christmas lights is another focal point for the community, along with the fire station's bonfire on the Friday evening nearest to 5 November. The Ossett Beer Festival takes place annually at the Brewers' Pride pub, Healey Road, Ossett over the August bank holiday weekend.

  • The town is mentioned in the song It's Grim Up North by the KLF.
  • Ossett was defined as "wheeare the' black-leead t'tram lines" in both A Yorkshireman's Dictionary by Peter Wright and The Yorkshire Dictionary by Arnold Kellett, although neither book gives any explanation for this. One interpretation is that it was mocking the town's heavy pollution when it was industrialised. Another is that Ossett people were seen as fussy and pedantic.
  • From Austin Mitchell's Talkin' Yorkshire (page 48):
In moments of extreme anger Ossett fish-puddlers have been known to resent "thou" and reply "Don't thee thou me thee thou thissen and see how tha likes thee thouing" but this is rare.
  • Ossett is the home of Wakefield Orchestral Wind (WOW), an orchestral wind band with a varied repertoire including popular film music, show music, big band, classical and their conductor's own arrangements. The band plays regularly at local events, such as Ossett Gala, Horbury Show and Camphill Pennine Community Summer Fair.[29]
  • Software house Team17 was previously based there, and their most famous game - "Worms" - contained a Hell level with a sign saying, "Welcome to Ossett". In the sequel Worms 2, there is the cheat code 'OSSETT', which enables the levels from the first game.
  • Ossett is defined in the "Meaning of Liff" as "a frilly spare-toilet-roll-cosy"

Notable people

  • The astronomer Cyril Jackson 1903-1988, who moved to South Africa, was born in Ossett, honoured the town when he named asteroid 1244 Deira; the citation he submitted to the IAU boils down to « Ancient name of Ossett, Yorkshire ». That is something of an exaggeration: the ancient Kingdom of Deira actually encompassed (at its height) most of Yorkshire.
  • Yorkshire and Lancashire. A vestige of Ingham's Church still survives in the Lancashire/Yorkshire border area.[30]
  • Eli Marsden Wilson, A.R.E., A.R.C.E. (1877–1965) was a successful Ossett-born artist who had seventeen pictures exhibited at the Royal Academy. After studying at Wakefield College of Art, he moved to the Royal College of Art in London where he became a pupil of Sir Frank Short. The first picture Wilson exhibited at the R.A. in 1905 was an etching of "Ossett Market" as it was in Victorian times. There is a copy of "Ossett Market" by E. M. Wilson on display in Wakefield Art Gallery.
  • Thomas Cussons (chemist) first established the 'Cussons' personal care brand in Ossett. The initials of Thomas' eldest son John W. Cussons (1867–1922) can still be found on the wall of the original building, now the Yorkshire Bank on Station Road. Thomas's youngest son Alex T. Cussons (1875–1951) who was apprenticed in Ossett, went on to manufacture the famous Cussons Imperial Leather soap.
  • Michael Taylor
  • Dave Jackson, current oldest living person from Yorkshire at 106.
  • Edward Clay, the borough's first mayor was a rag and mungo manufacturer. (The business still remains in Wesley Street).[31]
  • The Mitchells of South Ossett were Farmers and Clothiers and in the late 18th and the 19th Century they had significant land ownerships on Ossett Low Common (the present day Teall Street/ South Parade area) and Ossett Lights ( to the east of Teall Street and south of Manor Road).
  • Benjamin Scott born in 1719 was a cloth/ feltmakers. His mother was Sarah, née Ingham the daughter of Gervase Ingham a member of a well known land-owning Ossett family
  • Vincent Norman Wilson (1885-1974) ran a successful small business -V.N.Wilson and Co. Bedding & Mattress manufacturer, at Prospect Works, then Intake Lane Ossett - employing 25+ people until the General Strike 1926 and the following recession sent him and many others out of business.
  • Novelist Stan Barstow, 1928-2011, the author of A Kind of Loving, was born in Horbury, yet has lived almost all of his life in Ossett and attended Ossett Grammar School.
  • The crime novelist David Peace b. 1967, originates from Ossett and set the first six of his books in the West Riding. In Nineteen Seventy Four, Ed Dunford, the main character, lived at 10, Wesley Street in the town. There is also an insider joke where Ed tries to make up a fake name of a solicitors' firm to a policeman, and says "Edward Clay & Son Ltd." see above, which the policeman immediately deduces as false.
  • Elaine Storkey, (née Lively): b.1944, broadcaster, writer and academic, was brought up in Ossett and wrote for the Ossett Observer as a child. She was Head Girl of Ossett Grammar School in 1962.
  • Matt Abbott, who is the frontman and lyricist in alternative pop act Skint & Demoralised.
  • Portia da Costa (Wendy Wootton), erotic novelist grew up and currently lives in Ossett.
Actors and musicians
  • Andy Madley (football referee) Premier League match official
  • Bobby Madley (football referee) youngest ever Premier League match official. Current Head of Development for the West Riding FA for referees.
  • Richard Wood - defender with Sheffield Wednesday F.C..
  • Barry Wood, former Yorkshire, Lancashire and England cricketer was born and brought up in Ossett.
  • George Dews, played football for Middlesbrough, Plymouth Argyle and Walsall from 1946 to 1956; he also played cricket for Worcestershire for twenty years.
  • Andrew Coe, the head of the British Motor Sport Association, the de facto head of rallying in the UK, lived in Ossett for many years and attended Ossett School.

See also



  1. ^ UK 2001 Census - West Yorkshire Urban Area
  2. ^ Mills 1998, p. 262
  3. ^ Found on pages 62 and 365 in On Early English Pronunciation, Part V. The existing phonology of English dialects compared with that of West Saxon speech, London, Trübner and Co., 1889
  4. ^ British Library English Accents and Dialects collection, "Osset, Wakefield" Archived 14 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ BBC Article
  6. ^ "1900 - 2000". Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Ossett Spa - Little Harrogate detailed local history web site
  8. ^ Dewsbury Civil ParishA Vision of Britain Through Time : Retrieved 2009-09-10
  9. ^ Ossett, Vision of Britain, retrieved 2010-03-04 
  10. ^ Ossett Town Hall, Ossett Historical Society, 2008, page 104
  11. ^ NDS - News Distribution Service
  12. ^ "Ossett Averages 1981-2010". Met Office. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  13. ^ 2001 UK Census, Spreadsheet Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Archived 4 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ History of the Ossett Brewery Archived 9 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Bob's Brewing Company Ltd
  18. ^ Current Listed Building Files. Listed Buildings 26 April 2005, Wakefield District Council 34 - Listed buildings in Ossett
  19. ^ Archived 7 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Connecting Communities - expanding access to the rail network" (PDF). London:  
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Old Towns of England article on Dewsbury
  24. ^ Ossett Trinity Church, Ossett Trinity Church, retrieved 2010-03-04 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Ryalls Publishing Ltd Publisher of The Ossett Review Archived 22 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Ossett Civic Trust Web Site - Newsletter Ossett Times
  28. ^ Archived 31 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Wakefield Orchestral Wind website
  30. ^ Benjamin Ingham, Dictionary of National Biography, accessed February 2010
  31. ^ Ossett Civic Trust - History


  • Mills, A.D. (1998), Dictionary of English Place-Names, Oxford,  
  • "Bygone Ossett", Norman Ellis, Rickaro Books, November 2003, ISBN 0-9546439-0-9
  • "Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Ossett 1890", Alan Godfrey Maps, ISBN 0-85054-237-5
  • "The King's England: Yorkshire, West Riding", Arthur Mee

External links

  • Wilson, Stephen; "Did the Romans colonise Ossett?"; Retrieved 4 May 2012

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