THE house where the Brontë sisters were born has been sold and could be turned into a bistro, according to campaigners who fought for it to become a café-cum-museum.
Members of the Brontë Birthplace Trust had tried in vain to get Bradford Council to step in to buy the four-bed terrace in Market Street, Thornton, near Bradford.
The campaign group had dreams of securing a Lottery grant to convert the property into a Brontë-themed visitor attraction.
But Trust members discovered yesterday that the property has now been sold.
Steve Stanworth, chairman of the Trust, said members were “upset and very disappointed” as they had spent months trying to get support for their proposal.
He said the property could have become a multi-purpose visitor attraction incorporating a museum, book shop, café and gift stall.
The house, which has a plaque on the outside wall naming the four Brontë children born there, already attracts fans of the literary siblings from far and wide.
Mr Stanworth and Trust supporters believe that the Brontë birthplace has the potential to kick-start wider regeneration in Thornton.
He also believes it would improve the experience of visitors on the Brontë Trail, thousands of whom visit nearby Haworth and its Brontë Parsonage Museum every year.
It is not clear what the buyer of the Thornton property intends to do with the building but Mr Stanworth said he believes it could eventually be turned into a bistro.
“I understand it’s a local businessman and I think he’s going to turn it into a bistro. I don’t know his full plans at the moment.”
Mr Stanworth is not giving up yet on the Trust’s dream of acquiring the building and capitalising on its Brontë connections.
“We have decided, as a Trust, we are going to carry on with our work and hope that some time in the future it will come on the market.
“We are going to try and get a professional business plan done and raise money to buy it.”
The property, which was built in 1802, is thought to have been bought for around £120,000.
The property was home to the Brontë sisters and their brother Branwell, between 1815 and 1820.
It was bought in the late 1990s by the writer Barbara Whitehead who opened up the property to paying visitors.
She sold the house in 2007 and it was converted into flats.