©️ Anne-Marie Fawcett 2020

Richard Ashton has shared with us these photos from his father’s collection. I’ve put together a little about Richard’s family and their connections to Ossett.

Richard’s great grandfather was Walter Ashton. Here he is, standing in front of his shop on Prospect Road where he was a wheelwright.


Walter was born in Wakefield in 1863 to Charles and Mary (née Giglow). On Christmas Day 1888 he married 23 year old Jane Hallas, who also lived in Wakefield. Their first son, Charles, was born in Wakefield in May the following year. A year later and the family had moved to Ossett and Stithy Street, where their second son Arthur was born. Another son, William, followed in 1893 and by the time their third son, Walter jnr, was born in 1896 they were living at Little Field. Ernest arrived in 1902 and their only daughter Nora was born in 1905.

Walter, Nora, Jane (née Hallas) and Charles Ashton.

Three of Walter’s five sons worked in the family business, which was expanded to become a vehicle body building shop, at 3 Bank Street, on the site of what is now Iceland supermarket. The Ashtons built wagons, carts and wheelbarrows for a number of Ossett businesses, including the Co-op and Langley Brothers, mungo manufacturers. In later years the Ashtons lived at 14 Church Street.

Richard’s grandfather Charles Ashton didn’t join the family business. Instead he served as an apprentice to JH Nettleton’s butchers.

Charles Ashton as an apprentice at Nettleton’s butchers, Wesley Street, Ossett

Although Charles was born in Wakefield, he was baptised at Holy Trinity Church when he was 5 years old. In October 1912 he married Beatrice Maud Lucas and they had three children. Charles went on to become the manager of the Ossett Co-op butchers department and the family lived at “Crown Lands Cottages”, Kingsway. (Crown Lands Cottages is 100 Kingsway).

Richard’s father, George, was born in Ossett. On July 15 1939, just two days after his 20th birthday, George Alfred Ashton enlisted at Pontefract “for the duration of the emergency”. George joined the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment.

On September 3, 1939, the day Britain declared war on Germany after the invasion of Poland two days earlier, Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, returning to the old post he had left dejected after the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of World War I; he joined the War Cabinet the next day.

Churchill had several pressing concerns before him, including the inadequate defenses of the Royal Navy’s anchorage at Scapa Flow and the shortage of destroyers, but top of the list was Norway and how to stop the Germans from using its territorial waters to gain access to the Atlantic and the convoy routes.

Churchill was still pressing the War Cabinet. His memorandum began, “The effectual stoppage of the Norwegian ore supplies to Germany ranks as a major offensive operation of the war. No other measure is open to us for many months to come which gives so good a chance of abridging the waste and destruction of the conflict, or of perhaps preventing the vast slaughter which will attend the grapple of the main armies.”

The Hallamshire Battalion were a part of Mauriceforce (Norwegian Campaign) in Norway in April 1940. Many of the photos from George Ashton’s collection were taken in Norway where he was a part of the Iceland ‘C’ Force. The campaign in Norway saw some of the first combined operations of World War ll, with naval, air and land forces cooperating in coordinated attacks.

Throughout the war, British officers referred to the country as Iceland (C) on Churchill’s orders – because, early in the war, someone had mistakenly sent a ship to Ireland instead of Iceland! By the time British forces left Iceland, in the summer of 1941, there were over 25,000 troops stationed there.

In late 1942 George was seconded to Catterick as a Signals instructor. Later he rejoined his battalion in France. A month later he was wounded and consequently discharged and sent home.

George married Doreen Tyson in 1945.

Eleven years later George and Doreen moved their family to South Africa. That must have been quite a trip – all the children were under 10 years of age and their youngest child was less than a year old. They subsequently moved to New Zealand where, in 1977, George and Doreen gained citizenship.

Although Richard Ashton lives in New Zealand, he was born at 34 Wesley Street, Ossett.

Below is a group of photos that remain unidentified. Are you able to name anyone? Please email me at: