The Grade II listed memorial to Sam Wilson is by Edward Caldwell Spruce and is of black marble with bronze figures of Faith, Hope and Benevolence. The memorial reads ‘IN LOVING MEMORY OF/ SAM WILSON JP OF LEEDS/ BORN JAN 16th 1851/ DIED DEC 13th 1918/ AND OF/ ANN WILSON/ HIS BELOVED WIFE/ BORN FEB 27th 1862/ DIED FEB 27th 1931/ ‘MORS JANUA VITAE”(Death, the gate to life).
Sam Wilson was born in 1851 in Ossett, and moved to Leeds to help with the running of the family worsted coating (cloth making) business at Bean Ings Mill, Wellington Street. He became one of the joint managing directors of Joshua Wilson and Sons after the death of his father. (Joshua Jnr, his brother and senior partner in the firm is buried nearby as is another brother Andrew)
Sam Wilson and his wife Ann lived at Rutland Lodge, Potternewton (now a medical centre) and was a keen collector and acknowledged expert on contemporary British art and furniture. He bought the Brangwyn panels from the Venice Biennale in 1905 for presentation to the City Art Gallery. When he died on the 12th December 1918, his widow Ann bequeathed his extensive collection consisting of pictures, drawings, sculptures, furniture and porcelain, plus a sum of £1,000, for the “adornment of its surroundings” to Leeds Art Gallery. The Sam Wilson Collection was officially opened to the public in October 1925 and was displayed on the upper floors of the gallery on the Headrow in Leeds. It denoted a very modern British style now referred to as ‘English Impressionism.’
In 2008, the entire Sam Wilson collection was put into storage by Leeds Art Gallery who wanted to show other contemporary art collections to the general public. However, the gallery is still known as the Sam Wilson Gallery.
Picture of Sam Wilson by kind permission of Steve Wilson
whose excellent web site ‘Ossett – the history of a Yorkshire town’
details the story of the Wilson family.