Haworth's quirkiest holiday cottage was a three year labour of love

Dividing their home to make a quirky holiday let has changed the lives of a couple of creative DIY-ers. Sharon Dale reports. (See the end of the story for a 2 for 1 offer on tickets for the Homebuilding and Renovating Show at Harrogate Convention Centre, November 1st - 3rd 2019.)

The holiday cottage kitchen was once the old garage and before that a historic dairy

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When Caroline and Tim Ackroyd first moved to Mill Hill Farm in Haworth they had visions of the good life.The property, which they bought in 2006, had a large garden, space for chickens and an apiary. They also managed to secure an allotment nearby.But they soon realised that going the full “Tom and Barbara” while working was putting impossible demands on their time.“We tried to come up with projects for alternative income so we could be less dependent on our jobs but we recognised that if we were to get the work life balance we craved, we would need a better idea,” says Caroline.“One Friday evening after a particularly difficult week at work and after a particularly strong batch of rhubarb wine, we began to contemplate the division of the property.”

Their wine-fuelled idea was to turn part of their home into a cash-generating holiday let and it turned out to be a winner.The Dairy is now have one of the most popular and most quirky holiday properties in Haworth and it was well worth the effort and the three years it took them to bring it to life.Tim, 51, and Caroline, 48, who both work in the education sector, are also creative and gifted DIY’ers and did almost all of the work themselves.Before they picked up their sledgehammers and toolbox, they did their homework and contacted holiday let company Sykes Cottages for advice.Local manager Barry Gane agreed the plan was viable and that there would be a market for their couples -only retreat.The planning authority were equally amenable and gave them permission to split house and, later, they agreed to an extension.The three-bedroom farmhouse dates back to the 1600s and had been extended in Victorian times. It also came with an attached garage.

The guest sitting room

Caroline and Tim’s plan included converting the garage into a kitchen/dining room before knocking through into their old living room. A new staircase would lead upstairs where two bedrooms would be knocked into one to create one large bedroom and a bathroom with exposed A frame beams.The Ackroyds kept the original kitchen/dining room and third bedroom and bathroom as their living quarters.“We rarely used the sitting room and spare bedrooms anyway so we didn’t mind losing them to guests and we knew that we were going to extend the house later on.“The extension was paid for with takings from the holiday let and has given us an extra bedroom, cloakroom, utility room and living room,” says Caroline.

The reconditioned Aga with Thomas Jeckyll fireback as a splashback

As they began to knock through to the garage, they realised it was not a later addition. It was a historic former dairy.“We found the quoin stones of an original entrance and embarked upon an archaeological journey, finding mullions, stone window sills buried within the walls and the original, well-worn flagged floor. At that point we acknowledged that this was a renovation and we wanted it to be a sympathetic one.” says Caroline.She and Tim were keen to recycle, reuse and repurpose and their main hunting grounds were eBay and Peter Priymuk’s Revival Antiques in nearby Keighley.Over the next three years and while working full time, they had many adventures in the pursuit of their holiday let dream.

Tim and Caroline upcycled wherever possible

“We bought and fitted an old Victorian staircase we found on eBay for £20, we bought an oak floor from Nether Alderley from a chap who once had the Beckhams as his next door neighbours and we sold Tim’s Ducati to pay for a William Holland copper bath,” says Caroline.The couple also picked up a 1940s Aga from Derbyshire. It looked like a complete wreck but they had it re-enamelled in purple and converted it to run on electric and it is much admired. The creative couple also turned their old kitchen table top into a an internal door.Their greatest find was an old, rusty fireback that they picked up in Goole for £41. It turned out to be by Thomas Jeckyll, a 19th century architect who excelled in the design of Anglo-Japanese metalwork and furniture. It now has pride of place as a splashback above the AGA.“We have taken the redundant items of yesteryear and turned them into artistic creations and given them new life,” says Caroline.

The copper bath

“We have made taps out of tubas, a doorbell from a hunting horn, lamps from a galvanised water tank and an old gas meter cover, a mirror surround from an Art Nouveau fire guard and a pan rack from a cast iron cot.”Tim is a gifted plumber, plasterer, carpenter and metalworker and Caroline is his right-hand woman and a dab hand at decorating. “The only things we paid someone else to do were the electrics and gas and the dry stone walling outside,” she says.

The holiday let bedroom with upcycled headboards

Excluding the Ackroyds labour, the total cost of the project was about £20,000. Their reward is a hugely successful holiday let that brings in £15,000 gross and net earnings of £12,000 a year. This pays for the running of the whole farmhouse.“It means that we aren’t completely dependent on our jobs and we could afford to take a salary drop,” says Caroline. “That’s a great feeling and we really enjoy running the let. We’ve had guests from all over the world.“If anyone is thinking of doing this I’d say choose a tourist area. It has really helped that we are a stone’s throw from the old Main Street in Haworth and the Brontë Parsonage. We have also had a lot of visitors on the back of Gentleman Jack as we are close to Halifax.”The Dairy, Haworth, is to let via Sykes Cottages. www.sykescottages.co.uk

*For those who fancy a self-build or renovation project the Homebuilding and Renovating Show at the Harrogate convention centre, next weekend, November 1 to 3 is a must visit.There are over 240 exhibitors, free masterclasses and an advice centre. Our readers can access a 2 for 1 ticket offer online using the code YORKSHIREPOST Visit harrogate.homebuildingshow.co.uk