Handel Cossham was born in Thornley on 31 March 1824. In 1848 he married Elizabeth Wethered and through a partnership with her family, began Parkfield Colliery at Pucklechurch in 1851. As a caring employer, Cossham also built houses and a school for his colliery workers at Parkfield. The partnership opened several other coal pits, initially under the name of Cossham and Wethered Ltd and from 1867, the Kingswood Coal and Iron Company Ltd. The business came under control of Handel Cossham and Charles S Wills after 1879 when the Kingswood and Parkfield Colliery Company Ltd was formed. In 1862, Handel Cossham built the British School in Thornbury, which remains today. The Cossham Hall, which was built as a Wesleyan chapel, was purchased and donated to Thornbury by Cossham in 1888.
Cossham represented St Paul's ward on Bristol City Council as a Liberal during the 1860s. He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament at Nottingham in 1866, at Dewsbury in 1868 and at Chippenham in 1874. He was Mayor of Bath from 1882 to 1885. At the 1885 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for the newly created Bristol East and retained the seat in 1886.
In 1890, whilst in the library of the Houses of Parliament, Cossham was taken ill and died the following day. An estimated 30,000 people lined the streets on the day of his funeral. His estate amounted to £59,127. In 1900, his collieries were sold at auction for £61,000. The Cossham Memorial Hospital in Kingswood, Bristol is a memorial to Handel Cossham, who instructed in his will that his estate be used for the building of a hospital.
Information taken from Wikipedia article about Handel Cossham