Leeds & West Yorkshire

Brontë museum, Red House in Gomersal, could be saved from council cuts

Red House Museum in Gomersal, Cleckheaton
Image caption Charlotte Bronte based her novel, Shirley, on Red House in Gomersal near Huddersfield

A museum which is the setting for a Charlotte Brontë novel could be saved from closure.

Kirklees Council said campaigners should be given six months to come up with a new business plan for the "historically important" Red House Museum near Huddersfield.

The new plan would generate income and save running costs to the figure of £116,000, the council said.

Kirklees Council must save £64m a year from its budget.

Mehboob Khan, leader of the council, said savings could be made by introducing admission charges, reduced opening hours and letting out the building for functions.

Campaigner Imelda Marsden, from Haworth, said volunteers from Spen Valley Civic Society, the Brontë Society and other groups would form Friends of Red House to help with fund-raising and maintaining the museum.

Ms Marsden said if Red House was sold it would be a huge loss to the social history of the area and to tourism in Yorkshire.

"It's not just the Brontë and Taylor links but the history of the textile industry and the Luddites," she said.

Built in 1660, Red House was home to a family of cloth merchants and manufacturers.

Mary Taylor, who lived in the house in the 19th Century, is considered an early feminist and was a close friend of Charlotte Brontë.

Charlotte Brontë's second novel, Shirley, is about the Luddite uprisings in the Yorkshire textile industry during the industrial depression of 1811-12, and much of it is set at the house.

Proposals to keep the museum open under a new business plan will be voted on at a full council meeting on 22 February.

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