Joan's Photo for website

Joan P Smith – Family & Local Historian 

I was born in Horbury Bridge and spent my childhood (including the war years) there. My elder brother Arthur Worth was killed in North Africa in 1943, aged just 20 and, probably as a result of this, my family moved to South Ossett 3yrs later. I lived there for 12 years before moving away and lived in various part of England with my former husband, a prison officer. We returned to live in Wakefield in 1971 but I did not return to live in Ossett until 2000.

Whilst living in Wakefield I became a founder member of Wakefield & District Family History Society (WDFHS). Since then I have served in many roles in the Society and on 7th June 2014, the 17th birthday of the Society, I became President until July 2016. Over the years I have acquired a great deal of information, some of which has been used by WDFHS.

I would like to make this information available to as many people as possible.

I suspect that many researchers find this website difficult to understand. When I began my own research, I wanted to know all about the history, (land, people etc.) in date order. I was a complete novice about websites but my grandson Will set up a basic site for me and I learned as I went along!! This is what I have tried to do on the website. Obviously, when you are looking for just one particular item it is not easy.

I write things as they happened from the Deeds, Maps, Legal records etc. Unlike a book there isn’t room for a full index! So, if you are looking for a particular place and have a rough idea of the time/area you are researching e.g. Sowood Avenue you will need to scroll down to a date that it was likely to have been built, in this case 1925. However, the Deeds I used for these houses were dated. The building of them obviously took many weeks. So, the entries for each plot/property are in date order and the text on the website includes other events between them!  Also, the plot numbers are not necessarily the house number. However, if you actually know a number, the images for each event they give you a good idea!

The names I have given to each page may possibly be misleading too, e.g  HEALEY RD TO DENTON.  This is a huge area from Healey Road, across the Storrs Hill area, Storrs Hill Road, including houses, mills, Ossett Grammar School, St Ignatius Church etc. and ending at the old tramsheds at Sowood Bend on Horbury Road (which used to be called Denton Lane). It is divided into 2 Parts – 1790 to 1910 and 1910 to 1960. This also applies to the SOWOOD TRIANGLE and other pages. I hope this helps in finding the information you are looking for (and any that you didn’t know about!!)






Anne-Marie Fawcett – Family & Local History Researcher

My sincere thanks to Joan P Smith for entrusting to me her website and her years of research. Her shoes are far too big for me to even try to fill but I shall endeavour to keep this website updated and online.

I’m a story teller and love nothing more than piecing together the stories of those who have gone before us. I hope you’ll find these stories interesting. You’re welcome to share them but do please give attribution to the source.

I now live in Ossett, but I’m originally from Agbrigg, Wakefield. I was born at Manygates Hospital in 1966 during that World Cup and was educated in the Wakefield district. I left home just before my 21st birthday and moved into my own home right in the heart of Wakefield city centre. A few years later I moved to Leeds where I spent 18 years before a sudden change saw my former husband, my six year old daughter and myself heading for a new life in New Zealand. Due to unforseen circumstances our stay in New Zealand was brief and we returned to Wakefield. In 2007 we moved to Ossett and over the next few years I focused on raising my daughter, looking after our home and working for a well known high street retailer.

My interest in local history really began with amateur photography. Working in Wakefield city centre I began to realise how, ten feet or so above street level, there are some amazing features on some of Wakefield’s older buildings – gargoyles, ghost signs, date stones, and even a couple of sundials. I’m forever looking up. Try it yourself and see how much more you notice when you raise your eyes above the modern day facades.

In 2015 I was invited, with my camera, to climb the scaffolding erected in Wakefield Cathedral during its restoration. I like to think I’m not scared of much, but I’m really not great with heights; I much prefer my feet firmly on the ground. Yet how could I say no to an opportunity to help record the work for future generations and the chance of a bird’s eye view? At around this time, I was also invited to join the team of administrators of Wakefield Historical Appreciation Site (WHAS) which is a Facebook group that celebrates the history of Wakefield. I was well and truly bitten by the local history bug!

Perhaps naturally, my focus began to shift to the history of my adopted town. In 2015 with the encouragement and support of many, none more so than Simon Rogers and Rachel Driver, I gathered around me a great team and, taking our inspiration from Steve Wilson‘s ossett.net and Joan P Smith’s horburyandossettfamilyhistory.net , together we created the Facebook group: Ossett Through The Ages (OTTA)

Since then we have been joined on our local history journey by more than ten thousand others who are interested in the rich history of Ossett and we have worked together to help connect and reconnect them with their past. Our journey continues.


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