Crowdfunder launches to save the birthplace of the Bronte sisters for the people of Bradford
That could change if a crowdfunder led by the community to purchase the house they were born in is successful.
The house, on Market Street, has most recently been used as a cafe, but following the pandemic the owner has decided to sell.
A creative community group, the Bronte Birthplace Project, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy the terraced house and renovate it as an events space and accommodation.
Some £450,000 is needed to fund both the purchase and the first two years of running the property, with the campaign group initially trying to raise £20,000 through crowdfunding.
Campaigners, part of Thornton’s South Square Centre, are also intending to apply for Government and lottery match funding.
The group has been told by the current owner Mark De Luca that he will give them first preference on purchasing the house if they can raise the money by Christmas.
A blue plaque for the Brontë sisters was installed at the birthplace in June 2021, recognising the home and is the first blue plaque in the village.
Campaigners hope the purchase of the house will put Thornton on the map for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit Bronte Country each year.
The vast majority of Bronte tourism is based in Haworth, where the sisters took inspiration from the moors surrounding the Parsonage where they lived.
Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Charlotte, Emily and Anne respectively, are three of the best loved works in English literature.
Retired academic Sarah Dixon, member of the Bronte Birthplace Project, said: “We will use the space to do all sorts of cultural and literary activities.
“This is not just a Thornton project - this is a project for all of Bradford.
“It’s such a perfect fit at this time because of Bradford being awarded the City of Culture 2025. What could be more famous in Bradford than the Brontes?”
The group are in talks both with the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth and the city’s council about how to maximise tourist potential to Thornton should the purchase be successful.
Ideas include opening an Air BnB on the first floor of the birthplace and creating a new walk across the moors from Thornton to Haworth.
Mrs Dixon said: “If we don’t take this opportunity now - there was an attempt a few years ago and it failed - it could deteriorate, we believe. It needs protecting.”
Charlotte, Emily, Branwell and Anne Brontë were born in the village of Thornton between
1816-1820 before they moved to Haworth.
Their brother Branwell, who also showed literary promise but died from complications of alcohol and drug addiction, was also born in Thornton in 1817.
The family moved to the village of Haworth in 1820.
The Parsonage is now one of Yorkshire’s top tourist attractions and is home to hundreds of Bronte artefacts.