Tourism boost for Red House

Red House Museum

We’ve published a proposal today which asks Cabinet Members to invest £600,000 at the former Red House museum in Gomersal, to refurbish the Grade II* listed house and neighbouring cart shed, so that both properties can be let as luxury short-term holiday accommodation.

What is Red House?

Dating back to 1660, the house and grounds are an important heritage asset due to their association with local Luddite activities, the Taylor family, most notably Mary Taylor, a writer, and early feminist. They are however most revered by Bronte fans, as Charlotte was a regular guest at the house, and gave it a starring role as ‘Briarmains’ in her novel ‘Shirley’.

Prior to its closure in 2016, Red House operated as a community museum, but visitor numbers and increasing costs made the site unviable.  The decision to allow the property to be marketed for private sale prompted a petition from Red House Heritage Group in 2019, which resulted in our cabinet agreeing to explore alternative uses for the site which could maintain it in public hands.

What is the proposal?

This new approach proposes the house is refurbished to the highest standards in order to appeal to the luxury tourism market. If agreed the house would accommodate 10 guests, with the added advantage that once the business is established, guests may also be able to get married in the house during their stay.

Meanwhile, the cart shed would be split into four self-catering apartments, with broader appeal to both leisure and business travellers.  There are no proposals to include the barn in the commercial operation of the site so that this could retained for community use.

The paper also proposes to suspend the commercial operation for a number of days and weekends each year, so that local people can still have access to the site to enjoy pre-planned community activities and events.

Speaking about the proposal, Colin Parr, Strategic Director for Environment & Climate Change said:

“The proposal detailed in the report will allow the council to retain the property in public ownership without incurring huge operating costs. We have looked at the example set by the National Trust and the Landmark Trust, who both renovate heritage buildings to let as holiday cottages as a way of sustaining them, and we are confident that this could be a business model that works for the council too.

As well as its broad appeal, we think this scheme will benefit tourism to the area by attracting people who are interested in the Brontë connection to Red House, and the prospect of staying in a house where Charlotte frequently visited and wrote about. At the same time, we hope that the proposal will make it possible to offer managed community access to a site which we know is much-loved by local people.”