A VOLUNTARY group has said its “worst fears” have been realised after Kirklees Council revealed plans to close an historic house in Gomersal.

Red House Museum in Oxford Road has strong links to the Brontë family - Charlotte Brontë was a frequent visitor and immortalised the house in her second novel, Shirley.

But Kirklees Council, which is having to make cuts to its budget, has put forward plans to close both Red House and Dewsbury Museum to save money.

The buildings would close later this year, after the October half term.

Their collections would be either transferred or stored and “appropriate uses” would be found for the buildings, a spokesman for Kirklees Council said.

Jacqueline Ryder, the chairman of the Friends of Red House Museum, said they were saddened by the announcement, especially as they were celebrating the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth this year.

She said: “This news confirms our worst fears after months of rumour and speculation.

“Red House is a rare example of a yeoman clothier’s family house and workplace, complete with outbuildings and historic, award-winning gardens.

“It was owned and run by the Taylor family for 400 years, who made a substantial contribution to the area’s textile industry.

“The family even ran their own bank from Red House for a little while.

“Considering the close links with Charlotte Brontë it is very sad that Kirklees Council has made this announcement when we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth.”

The proposals would see Oakwell Hall and Country Park in Birstall remain open.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “The council is planning to work closely with Friends organisations and other local groups and partners in the development of future services.

“The proposals are in line with the council’s overall response to its financial challenges – strengthening links with local communities, engaging people with key issues and making best use of scarce resources.”

A public consultation has begun into the plans and will run until Sunday, July 24.

A spokesman for the Brontë Society said it would be taking part in the consultation, but declined to comment further.

There will be consultation sessions at each of Kirklees’ six art galleries and museums, where people can have their say.

There will be a session on July 13 at 11am at Oakwell Hall and Country Park and one on July 19 at 6pm at Red House Museum. Alternatively, visit kirkleestalk.org/index.php/get-involved/lets-talk-about-museums/.