The Bagnall's of Wakefield

Death of a Local Character

Death of a Local Character
Death of a Local Character

ONE of Wakefields's best known "characters," Mr George Bagnall, retired builder, of 59, Stanley Hill, died last Sunday at the age of 85.

Mr Bagnall served for many years on Stanley Urban Council and was its chairman at one time. He was several times president of the Wakefield branch of the Master Builders' Association and was a trustee of the Rothwell and Stanley Miners' Welfare organisation for 30 years.

He served for ten years on the Executive of the Yorkshire Playing Fields Asociation and was president of the Stanley branch of the British Legion for 20 years.

Another interest was Wakefield Trinity. He served on the committee and up to last year was a regular attender at home matches.


Mr. Bagnall once earned the title of "hangman" at Wakefield Prison. Many years ago his firm was commissioned to build a gallows there, and on completion of the work Mr Bagnall decided to test the apparatus by "hanging" a bag of cement. This called for a lengthy explanation to the Governor as to who pulled the lever and why!

A postcard of men working on Wakefield Cathedral spire
A postcard of men working
on Wakefield Cathedral spire

Another of his achievements was climbing the Cathedral spire at a time when the top 15 feet were being re-built. This was a hazardous business as the ladders did not overlap properly, and both ascent and descent involved the climbers hanging in space by their hands for short periods. Mr Bagnall was one of the few apart from steeplejacks, ever to climb the spire.

What Next?

Such escapades caused Mr Bagnall to be regarded as "quite a character", said his son, Mr Roland W. Bagnall, of the lodge, Aberford Road, Stanley. "He was a fantastic man. You never knew what he would get up to next. We got to the stage where nothing surprised us any more".

Mr Bagnall owned one of the first motor-cycles in the district and also one of the first cars. He gave up driving at the beginning of the second war but, unable to settle himself to a transportless life, took up cycling--at the age of 66!

Mr Bagnall leaves three children--Mr Ronald Bagnall*: Mr Jeffrey Bagnall of Westfield Grove, Wakefield and Mrs Edna Webster, a former Mayoress of Wakefield.

* Margaret Johnson kindly informed me that the press cutting is incorrect in the last line and "Ronald" should read "Roland"