Handel Cossham: Thornbury’s Man of Substance

Exhibition: Tue 06 Feb 2024 - Tue 23 Apr 2024
Venue: The Museum Admission: FREE

2024 marks the bicentenary of Handel Cossham’s birth in Thornbury on 31st March 1824.

To mark the occasion, our museum’s first exhibition of the year is “Handel Cossham: Thornbury’s Man of Substance“.

He’s pictured here in older age, a man who had been successful in several spheres. The picture of him on our Home page shows him as a 24 year old, with his life and career ahead of him.

Handel was the son of a joiner and builder but, instead of following in his father’s footsteps, he became a clerk in a colliery and taught himself about the geology of the local coalfields.

He went on to become a leading colliery owner in this area and one of the West Country’s major employers. He was also a lay preacher, a temperance advocate, an educationalist, a politician and a public benefactor.

On the day of his funeral it was estimated that 50,000 people were present at the cemetery or lined the route.

Handel Cossham never forgot his native town. In 1862 he paid for the setting up of a British School at Gillingstool in Thornbury and then, in 1888, he gifted the former Wesleyan Chapel building to the people of Thornbury for use as a public hall.  We know the building today as the Cossham Hall, right next to the museum.

Our new exhibition includes the story of the Cossham Hall.

Come along and find out more about this major West Country figure – a man who did so much for Thornbury.

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