Room for a slice of California in heart of Yorkshire

One of the most celebrated Mid-Century Modern houses in Britain is up for sale for the first time in over 50 years.

Farnley Hey in Huddersfield was among the first post-war buildings to be listed by English Heritage thanks to architectural features influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier.

The property, near Farnley Tyas, which is on the market for £749,000, was designed in 1954 by Peter Womersley as a wedding present for his brother John.

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Its remarkable style, more reminiscent of California than Kirklees, made it a landmark in Huddersfield.

But its fame spread well beyond Yorkshire and the house is now regarded as one of the best examples of Fifties contemporary domestic architecture.

Such was the local interest when John Womersley decided to sell in the late 1950s that a plan was hatched to dissuade time-wasters from coming round to have a look. The estate agent charged £2 for a copy of the sales particulars – the equivalent of around £30 today.

Joe and Jean Battye, who bought the house, were serious about preserving Farnley Hey’s integrity and saw themselves as custodians, which is why the property still boasts many of Womersley’s original fixtures and internal finishes.

Much documented in books, journals and theses, the most vaunted features include large floor-to-ceiling, picture windows that bring light flooding into the house as well as giving wonderful far-reaching views, the double-height living room and the cantilevered mezzanine gallery. Also much admired is Womersley’s exuberant use of materials, from camphorwood and York stone flag flooring to yellow opaque glass.

The Battyes embraced the modernity, added a contemporary extension and furnished the house with Fifties design classics.

The property has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a Iarge study, a kitchen/dining room, sitting room and an area known as “the Dancefloor” due to its polished floors and inbuilt audio system. This was originally designed for John Womersley’s energetic parties and for recording live music.

Outside, there is a short driveway and double garage. The house sits on approximately 1.2 acres of land, which is partly wooded and partly laid to lawn bordering open countryside. An engineer and keen inventor, Mr Battye added a few ingenious touches including his own heating system and a drive that could be warmed to melt ice and snow.

Some renovation has been carried out by Robert Battye who inherited the house from his parents, and it is entirely respectful of the grade two listing, which declares: “In style, Farnley Hey suggests the influence of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, brought to a dramatic site in the Pennines. It typifies the best of the 1950s in its lightness, sense of the picturesque and optimistic stance.”

Farnley Hey is for sale through Bramleys, Huddersfield. Tel: 01484 530361, and

Read more about Farnley Hey and an interview with its owner in this Saturday’s Property Post supplement.