Cost-cutting plan to close museums and heritage sites

Red House Museum.
Red House Museum.

Two of Kirklees’ six museums and galleries face closure under cost cutting plans by the district’s council.

Dewsbury Museum in Crow Nest Park and Red House Museum in Gomersal could be given the axe as Kirklees Council faces “severe cutbacks in government funding”.

Dewsbury Museum.

Dewsbury Museum.

It says it must make £351,000 of savings to its budget for museums and galleries by next April.

Museums and heritage sites currently owned by the council are Dewsbury Museum, Bagshaw Museum in Batley, Tolson Museum in Huddersfield, Huddersfield Art Gallery, Oakwell Hall and Country Park in Birstall and Red House Museum.

A council spokesperson said: “The available funding means the number of sites needs to be reduced.

“It is being proposed that Oakwell Hall and Country Park would stay open, along with Bagshaw Museum. Both of these sites are in North Kirklees. In the south of the district, both Huddersfield Art Gallery and Tolson Museum would stay open for the time being.”

Future plans also include merging Tolson Museum and Huddersfield Art Gallery into a combined Huddersfield Museum and Art Gallery.

The council said the changes would “save money whilst maintaining high-quality local attractions for residents and visitors”. But they were greeted with sadness by community groups.

Jacqueline Ryder, chairwoman of the Friends of Red House Museum, said: “This news confirms our worst fears after months of rumour and speculation.

“Red House is a rare example of a yeoman clothier’s family house and workplace.”

She added: “Considering the close links with Charlotte Brontë, it is very sad that Kirklees Council has made this announcement when we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth.”

Chairman of the Friends of Crow Nest Park Denis Ripley said the museum was “part of the community” and visited by “all kinds of people”.

He said: “It is certainly very useful in helping children in our area with their education.”

He said the group would be arguing against the closure at the first of several consultation meetings, which is being held at Dewsbury museum at 2pm on Sunday.

Other meetings will take place at Oakwell Hall at 11am on July 13, Red House at 6pm on July 19 and Bagshaw Museum at 3pm on July 20. To book, visit www.kirkleestalk.org Views can also be shared online until July 24.