CAMPAIGNERS may have to contemplate defeat.

Supporters who fought to keep Red House Museum open, may now have to resign themselves to very real fact that this community asset steeped in Bronte history may eventually close.

Reduced hours, the introduction of an entry fee and the promotion of the 1830s building, once home to the textile and banking Taylor family, in Oxford Road, Gomersal, as a wedding venue, were initiatives put in place to help boost the museum’s income after the initial threat to its future came four years ago when Kirklees Council was looking at ways to reduce its budget.

Now the museum is once again facing potential closure and while a decision has yet to be made, it appears the writing could well be on the wall.

Even Bronte enthusiast, Imelda Marsden, who fought tirelessly with fellow campaigners to retain Red House, has resigned herself to the fact that it may close.

Red House and Dewsbury Museum are currently under proposal for closure.

Imelda says it is ‘a shame’ that Red House may close and her concern now is that if it does, it won’t be left to stand empty.

She says she is currently in talks with a group who may want to take on the museum, featuring two windows she says are of historical interest and which she says belong to the Bronte Society, and keep it open to the public.

One idea they are focusing on is for it to become a women’s museum in honour of the early feminist, Mary Taylor, Charlotte Bronte’s life-long friend, who lived at Red House with her family,

“A couple of us would be interested in having it for a women’s museum or something for women because she was brilliant was Mary Taylor,” says Imelda.

The Grade II Listed building has been a museum since 1973 when it was bought by the Borough of Spenborough from Lord Shaw and his family, the last family to reside there. It came under Kirklees Council’s remit in 1974.

Imelda explains one of the instigators of Red House becoming a museum was the late poet, historian and past president of Spen Valley Historical Society, Mabel Ferrett.

“Mabel was brilliant, she was a lifelong member of the Bronte Society and she got it set up as a museum,” says Imelda.

Should the museum close, she says: “it is sad but it is one of those things.”

Jacqueline Ryder, chairman of the Friends of Red House - a support group set up when the museum was initially threatened with closure, says news of the closure proposal confirmed their ‘worst fears.’

“It is absolutely devastating, we are really upset,” says Jacqueline.

“We thought we could help to boost visitor numbers by putting on events and helping staff with events they came up with.

“We have raised a little bit of money but most of our activity was geared more towards raising the profile of Red House and boosting visitor numbers,” she says, referring to the 1940s tea dance and the forthcoming Flower Festival this weekend.

Brontes in Bloom, which runs from noon until 4pm tomorrow and Sunday, will showcase the museum’s award-winning gardens which have clinched the Yorkshire in Bloom gold award three times.

Organised by Cleckheaton Rotary Club and the Friends of Red House, the festival will feature displays inspired by the life and creativity of the Brontes.

Jacqueline hopes visitors coming to the event will also show their support for Red House.

She explains a community engagement exercise is now underway seeking people’s opinions. Visitors can fill out a survey while there, or take part online.

The exercise runs until July 24. A decision is expected to be made at the Kirklees Council cabinet meeting in September.

“We have got to be realistic about it,” says Jacqueline.

She says if the council is looking to close it, they hope it will change its mind. “Because of the importance of the museum to the local community,” she says, adding that its links with the Brontes make it of global interest too.

If it should close, Jacqueline welcomes the idea of it being open to the public in future. “We would like any group to come along and fund it and keep it open to the public in some way.

“The last thing we want is for it to be boarded up and not used for anything.”

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