YORKSHIRE Water is to invest in the redevelopment of historic Esholt Hall.

The Bradford-based company is to transform the building into a flagship centre of excellence for learning and well-being.

The stately building, which was closed in 2017, will be renovated to provide a state-of-the-art venue for Yorkshire Water’s new training academy, which will provide staff and the wider water industry with access to innovative new learning facilities.

The redevelopment will provide new classroom spaces, for Yorkshire Water’s academies of water, wastewater, health and safety, leadership and management, customer experience and systems and technology.

It is the latest chapter in the life of the historic hall, which stands on the outskirts of Esholt village in 22 acres of wooded parkland.

Esholt Hall was built in 1707 by Sir Walter Calverley. It was constructed over the cellars of a former Cistercian monastery, Esholt Priory

In 1755 Esholt Estate was bought by Robert Stansfield, a member of the landowning family after whom the Stansfield Arms pub in Apperley Bridge is named.

From around the 1860s there were problems on the Esholt estate caused by Bradford Corporation’s attempts to dispose of sewage via Bradford Beck which deposited waste along its course, and subsequently into the River Aire.

In 1862 a sewage system opened in Frizinghall, but Bradford Beck remained polluted, earning it the nickname ‘mucky beck’.

In 1867 Robert’s descendant Major General William Crompton Stansfield took out an injunction against the then Bradford Corporation - later to become Bradford Council - to prevent sewage disposal in Bradford Beck, which would then flow into the River Aire.

He died aged 52, leaving daughters Mary Evelyn Maud, Elizabeth Alexandra and Consuela Albinia.

The City Fathers tried to compulsorily purchase Esholt estate from the Stansfield sisters but the House of Lords refused to sanction this move, causing celebrations back in Esholt.

Villagers met the train on which the sisters had travelled back from London at Apperley Station and cheered as they made their way home.

But their joy was short-lived as in 1904 the women were controversially evicted from Esholt Hall so that the house could be acquired by Bradford Corporation for the purpose of creating a sewage works on the land.

The hall and estate were sold to the authority for £239,742 - almost £30 million in today’s money.

Throughout the 1920s lanolin, produced from effluent discharged by the many textile mills operating in the area, was collected at Esholt and sold for use in the cosmetics industry.

As part of the ongoing development of the sewage works, a three-mile long sewer was built, running from Esholt to Frizinghall. At the official opening of the sewer in 1926, cars made by the Bradford manufacturer Jowett travelled through the main sewer tunnel from Frizinghall. It was quite a sight and the now famous image, captured on film, is still marvelled at today.

Esholt Hall was designated a Grade ll* listing in September 1952, to preserve its many fine architectural features such as tall, beautifully proportioned sash windows, carved cornicing and a 19th century conservatory.

Yorkshire Water bought the hall in 1973. In 1989 Yorkshire Water Services took ownership.

In 2014 Yorkshire Water’s sister company Keyland - established to regenerate redundant Yorkshire Water land - began to buy sections of the estate.

Land was earmarked for a scheme that would include both new homes and sustainable work spaces with a particular focus on bio-tech businesses.

Last month Bradford Council approved plans submitted by Keyland Developments property management company, for this ambitious scheme to go ahead.

The business side of the plans - which will focus on industries that can make the most of heat, power and water generated by the treatment works - are expected to create around 2,000 jobs.

Of the plans for Esholt Hall, Peter Coddington, project Lead at Yorkshire Water, has said: “We are committed to making our land deliver excellence for the people of Yorkshire and this is one of many projects delivering on our new land strategy.

“Esholt Hall is a magnificent building with a long history and we’re delighted to have agreed a plan to bring it back to its former glory, while ensuring it supports our colleagues and the local community.

“Our new Centre of Excellence, which is already operating in the renovated courtyard buildings on the site, will be able to provide industry-leading training to our colleagues and the wider industry once the building is completed.”

Liz Barber, CEO of Yorkshire Water said: “Alongside the new development, we are already working hard to redevelop the historic Esholt Hall and transform it into a flagship Centre of Excellence for learning and training.”