Boost for Red House campaigners

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GOMERSAL’S Red House Museum has been upgraded to Grade II* because of its architectural and historical interest.

The news has been welcomed by campaigners who, earlier this year, fought to stop Kirklees closing the museum because of budget cuts.

The upgrade from Grade II was made on the recommendation of English Heritage and was agreed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

It follows representations made by local historian and author Dr Gillian Cookson, Imelda Marsden of the Kirklees Brontë Group and the Brontë Society’s heritage and conservation group.

English Heritage sent an advisor to Red House earlier this year to meet Dr Cookson and Kirklees Museums and Galleries staff and hear their views about the significance of Red House.

Dr Cookson has welcomed the upgrade and said while the new listing would not prevent Kirklees from selling Red House in the future, the restrictions now placed on the building would make it less appealing to potential buyers.

The reasons for the upgrade are its Georgian architecture; literary interest as Charlotte Brontë featured Red House in her novel Shirley; historic interest as it was the home of radical feminist Mary Taylor, and industrial interest because of its connections with the woollen cloth industry.

Mrs Marsden, who is also a member of Friends of Red House, was delighted but also urged caution. “It gives us more power to apply for grants, but its future is still very vulnerable,” she said.