A campaign is under way to save historic literary site the Red House, in West Yorkshire, which has links to Charlotte Brontë.
The house in the village of Gomersal, Kirklees, served as a local museum for many years before being closed in 2016 because of funding cuts. Now author Jill Hughes is helping to lead a campaign to see the council transfer rights so that members of the public can run the site to promote the local area’s literary heritage. Nearly 4,500 people have signed an online petition to save the Red House.
Hughes said: “The Red House has many significant literary links, particularly to the Brontë’s. The Red House was immortalised as [the house] 'Briarmains' in Charlotte’s novel Shirley. Since my school days at Tong Comprehensive, Bradford, I’ve been greatly inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and other gothic works.”
Hughes believes that the site has “great tourist potential which would help regenerate this region”.
She told The Bookseller: “The Red House is an important historical attribute and part of West Yorkshire’s proud heritage. It was owned by Joshua Taylor, a wool merchant, and the house has links with the Luddites and the textile industry, which the region is famous for. Elizabeth Gaskell, a friend of Charlotte’s wrote about this, and the problems caused in society by rapid change, and conflicts between workers and employers, in her industrial fiction novels: North and South, Wives and Daughters. She mentions the Red House in the biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë.”
The Spirit of Prophecy author said that Red House has been reprieved from sale by auction for a minimum of six months, until mid-June 2020, so that local charitable groups can put together business proposals, for consideration, under Kirklees County Council’s Asset Transfer process.
The writer is the site could be used as a museum promoting Yorkshire’s literary heritage. “We are looking at raising cultural grants, interest from literary societies, but also we really need to raise public funding,” she said.
Anyone interested in supporting the campaign should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.