Birthplace of Brontes must be preserved

First published in Our View by

The literary legacy of the Bronte sisters is something this part of the world can be justifiably proud of, and it is a very important part of the heritage of the Bradford district.

It is an integral part of the popularity of Haworth, with the village growing as a tourist destination on the back of associations with the family and the fact their work was inspired by the beautiful scenery.

But the place where Charlotte, Anne, Emily and their brother Branwell were actually born, in Thornton, has not had the same level of prominence, and their cottage on the village’s Market Street has been allowed to be neglected.

Now, the efforts of the Bronte Birthplace Trust to restore the cottage as a museum have sadly been dealt a blow that could mean the Bronte birthplace is lost to the community permanently.

The group had been given the impression by Bradford Council that they could make a bid for the cottage under Community Right to Bid legislation, but it has now been told that because the property is considered residential, the legislation does not apply.

That has left it looking to find a way to make a bid quickly to the estate agents looking to sell the property. The Council has apologised, but surely it is something that officers can look more closely at to see if it can become involved in preserving this landmark for the community, rather than risking it to going into private hands.

Yes, expenditure of public money is very difficult to justify at the moment. But preserving this vital part of our literary heritage is extremely important. And if handled correctly, such an attraction could be seen as an investment, allowing the village to share in the Haworth tourism honeypot, preserving a nationally important historic landmark and helping to regenerate Thornton village at the same time.

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