It’s the home of the Brontes, a budding gallery and community space and a collective of passionate people - the quiet and quaint village of Thornton is one of many areas in the Bradford district with a story to tell.

Just over four miles west of Bradford city centre, Thornton became part of the Bradford district in 1974. The wider Thornton and Allerton ward has a population of just over 17,000.

Its main claim to fame is that Thornton is the birthplace of the Bronte Sisters - the famous writers Anne, Emily and Charlotte were born on Market Street.

Their birthplace is now a café - appropriately named Emily’s - popular with both locals and tourists alike.

The South Square Centre, on Thornton Road, is seen as a focal point of the village - the 19th-Century workers cottages are now home to a café, a bar and a gallery, as well as community spaces.

“South Square is like the centre of Thornton. When I was a kid there was nothing like this”, says Ian Howard, 50, who was born in Thornton and lived there for the first 25 years of his life.

“Loads of people come here, you have Bronte displays and art on the walls, it’s a real hub for the community.”

Ian, speaking as he sips coffee in the café, says, “I was born opposite the Old Bell Chapel, which is the Church the Brontes went to. We used to walk past the Bronte’s birthplace on the way to school, so we became really familiar with the history.”

“If you’ve got a piece of history, like we have, it links everyone together. The thread that ties Thornton together is the Brontes.”

Ian, who now lives in Haworth, speaks about how Thornton’s Bronte heritage still plays an important role in its community today.

“We run a community group where we take people on Bronte-themed walks across the moors”, before he says, with a smile, “My company is called Wuthering Hikes!” - a pun that any Thornton resident surely won’t need explaining.

Ian is keen to promote the encouraging work coming out of Thornton, and stressed the importance of the relationship between the press and the public: “When there’s negativity coming from the local papers about the community, it can put people off - it would be great for the community to work with the local press to focus on the positive things here.”

A short walk from South Square is Thornton Community Library. Sitting inside are three people - none of them were born or even brought up in Thornton, and all had moved to the area as adults, but they all still seemingly hold the same enthusiasm for their community as someone like Ian, who was born and raised here, does.

“We’ve all moved here from elsewhere, but we all agree that Thornton is a place that hooks you - you get very involved. It’s a great place to live”, says Joy Wilkings, 64, a volunteer at the library.

To Joy’s right is Nancy Plowes, 59, who builds on her sentiments: “There’s a lot going on in Thornton. We all enjoy volunteering and we get a great response from the community.”

Also present is Manny McKenzie, 60, who explains, “We're a volunteer-run library and have been for around three years, since cuts imposed on the Council meant we could no longer afford to keep it staffed. It's gone from strength to strength and we’re trying to develop different areas of it in accordance to what people in Thornton would like."

He also wants more publicity for the village: "When something bad happens, you hear about it in the news. It’s hard to see the positive things that happen in communities like ours. But it’s important for news items, of a community-based nature, to be known about.”

Speaking on cuts to local services, which he believes have affected the area, Manny says, “We’re aware the Council has a vastly reduced budget, which is down to central government reducing its grant, which has in effect halved the Council’s budget. It’s hard to blame the Council for services being cut.”

Nancy echoes his view: “The cuts have an impact on people and on things like adult social care. There are some things that, as a library and a community centre, we can pick up. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg - everyone's needs can't be met by a library.”

But, despite the challenges, the library remains a key player, as Manny says, “One of our aims is to provide services that maybe now, not everyone in Thornton can afford. We provide free access to the internet and free Wi-Fi, and people make use of that - if they’re applying for jobs, for example. Not everyone has the right equipment at home. This isn't just about borrowing books - it’s a whole community hub.”

Thornton residents will be hoping that its close-knit community only strengthens, as it remains a vibrant part of the Bradford district.