NEARLY 2,000 people have signed a petition to re-open Red House Museum.
The Grade II*-listed building in Gomersal (right) was closed back in December 2016 because of cuts to cultural services budgets.
It was fully emptied of its exhibits by the following April and has been ‘left to rot’ ever since, according to campaigners trying to save it.
Kirklees Council has turned down three community asset transfer requests over the years from volunteer groups who wanted to run the 17th-century property, claiming they were unsuitable. It is shortly due to be put up for sale on the open market.
But now a group of supporters are again campaigning for it to be given back to the community and re-opened as a museum.
They hope to raise money through cultural grants, public fundraising and literary societies to get the attraction back up and running. Campaigner Caroline Goodwill, who lives in Cleckheaton, has launched a petition to reinstate a ‘Community Bid to Buy’ clause. It needs 3,000 signatures to trigger a council debate.
Ms Goodwill said: “We want it back in the community – there is so much heritage. It has links with Charlotte Bronte, with the Luddites, with the Wesleyan Methodists – they all visited Red House.
“Charlotte loved to go there and it was sort of the other side of the coin for her. If Red House was anywhere else it would be valued, but here it has been left to rot.
“There is so much that can be done with the Red House.”
It was revealed last year that Kirklees had spent almost £30,000 on repairs, servicing and maintenance since Red House closed.
The council also employ a guardian scheme which keeps the property safe while it’s empty.
A spokesman for Kirklees said: “The closure of Red House Museum is part of our plans to improve and transform Kirklees Council’s Museums and Galleries offer to modern-day audiences. We also could not afford to keep this building open as it was operating at a significant loss.
“We always look to work with our communities to deliver the best solution. That’s why we initially asked local groups interested in taking over the building in a community asset transfer to come forward, but none of the three bids we received were suitable.
“We’re in the process of putting the site on the open market. We will work to ensure that this historic site goes to someone who can deliver a suitable and sustainable long-term future for it.”
The petition can be viewed at www.change.org/p/the-leader-of-kirklees-council-save-red-house-yorks-inspiration-for-shirley-by-charlotte-bronte.