GROUPS interested in taking on a period house in Gomersal after it closes as a museum next week have until March to express their interest in a community asset transfer.

Red House Museum, which has close links to the Brontes, is to close to the public on Wednesday.

The Grade-II listed 17th century cloth merchant’s home was frequently visited by Charlotte Bronte and featured in her novel Shirley.

It is decorated and furnished in the style of the 1830s when Charlotte was a frequent visitor to Red House, which was owned at the time by the family of her close friend, Mary Taylor.

Kirklees Council’s museums and galleries budget is being cut by half from April next year. A restructuring of the service will see the closure of both Red House and Dewsbury Museum.

Jacqueline Ryder, chairman of the Friends of Red House, which is not in a position to take on the building, said: “The sad reality of the closure is now sinking in again, and the Friends’ group is being wound up.

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with the staff, who face an uncertain future.

“There will be many tears shed on Wednesday, the last day Red House Museum will be open to the public.”

She praised the success of the last event at the museum, Red House Christmas, which was “an absolute triumph”.

“There were hundreds of visitors, more than I have seen at an event in the four years since the Friends of Red House have been involved,” she added.

The information pack for groups interested in a community asset transfer describes how the building has cost the Council £30,000 a year to run for the last two years. It also states: “Restrictions known as covenants would normally be placed on the property to ensure it remained available for local people to use and to prevent it from being sold for development.

“Groups can negotiate a percentage of commercial use of the building up to 30 per cent.”

The deadline for expressions of interest and outline business cases in Monday, March 6.

A decision is then expected in the spring, otherwise the building will be put up for sale.