A Bradford councillor broke down in tears as she tried to respond to the news that Bradford Council has declined to save the Thornton birthplace of the Brontës.Steve asks readers to 'please feel free to vent your displeasure via the link to the letters page of the Telegraph and Argus'. And rightly so. We expect letters to the council, etc., would also be welcome. A pat on the back to these short-sighted decision-makers. Hopefully the members of the Trust will come up with something that allows them to save the birthplace.
Thornton& Allerton Conservative Councillor Valerie Binney wrote the original letter appealing to the Council for financial support to help Brontë Birthplace Trust buy the property and preserve it as part of Bradford's cultural heritage.
"I felt extreme disappointment.I could have cried. We worked so hard," she said and then did, briefly, break down in tears.
The Council said if it had made an offer for the doublefronted house in Market Street it might have jeopardised the Trust's bid for £239,000 of lottery cash.
Steve Stanworth, chairman of the Brontë Birthplace Trust said: "I received a phone call from Sheilagh O'Neill from the Council's regeneration department. The official line is they cannot justify lending or giving us the money for the Brontë Birthplace. This is due to a political decision.
"They say the property wouldn't be of interest to them and they don't believe it could be a going concern. I am extremely disappointed and frustrated, when we see the amount of wasted money on speed bumps, cycle races and events that are fleeting.
"This sums up the Council's attitude and goes against the Big Society the Government is trying to foster. We are now left in a bad position once again."
Coun Binney said: "The tourism department doesn't think a Brontë museum in Thornton is viable because everybody goes to Haworth. People we meet seem to think the Brontë sisters were born in Haworth.
"If I had the money I would buy the house myself. Somebody wants to buy it to turn it into a bistro. It used to be a restaurant and that didn't work."
The decision was taken by three executive committee members of the council: Council leader David Green, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe and Councillor Andrew Thornton.
Coun Thornton, who holds the portfolio for environment, sport and sustainability, said: "We explored a number of ways in which we might offer assistance for the Brontë Birthplace Trust to make an offer for the property.
"However, as the Council has no interest in acquiring the building for itself we were not satisfied that this was a justifiable use of public money or a reasonable intervention for us to make in competition with any private individual seeking to purchase the property.
"Government cuts to the Council's budget together with a national and local contraction in public grant aid continues to put severe pressure on our existing cultural estate. Adding to those pressures with an open ended commitment to an unquantified scheme cannot be justified.
"We will continue to offer support to the Brontë Birthplace Trust as it pursues its Heritage Lottery Fund bid for its project."
The Trust, which meets tomorrow at the Blue Boar pub in Thornton, near St James's Church, at 7pm, will have to think again.
Mr Stanworth said: "Perhaps our best bet is to try to fast-track our Heritage Lottery Fund bid. This usually takes six months. "If we do get someone to buy the property, we have to be careful how this affects the funding status. I was hoping to bring good news to the meeting, but this puts a different light on it. We are back at square one." (Jim Greenhalf)
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE TIME OF THE BRONTES IN THIS HOUSE?:
Although, according to Miss Firth's diary, Mrs. Bronte appears to have had some social enjoyment and exchanged visits with her neighbours, in company with her husband and her sister, Miss Elizabeth Branwell, she must have had a very busy life with her young family. Her second child was only a few months old when she went to Thornton, and before she left, five years afterwards, the family had increased to six. There was not a room in the house that could well be spared for a nursery. Miss Branwell, who was with Mrs. Bronte when Charlotte was born, and for some months afterwards, needed accommodation, and, with the general servant and nursemaid, there was a household of eleven in this little parsonage. Mrs. Bronte must have been a very capable manager for her husband to be able to say that his happiest days were spent at Thornton.
It was during his stay here that he published a small volume
The Cottage in the Wood, or the Art of becoming rich and happy and he has also been credited with a story which formed another volume The Maid of Killarney, or Albion and Flora, a tale, in which are interwoven some cursory remarks on religion and politics. No author's name is attached to the book. Altogether Patrick Bronte could now claim to be the writer of four small volumes ; they were, however, such that literature would not have been much the poorer if he had never published them, but they show evidence of a thoughtful mind, and if too didactic they are artless and sincere. In a small house filled with children, with a husband busy with writing and preparing sermons, Mrs. Bronte's task must have been by no means an easy one. It is noticeable that Mr. Bronte did not publish any poems after he lived at Thornton ; the muse from this point appears to have left him. The old servants of the Thornton Vicarage Nancy and Sarah Garrs had nothing but kind remembrances of Mr. and Mrs. Bronte. Shortly after the family went to reside at Thornton, Mrs. Bronte felt it necessary to engage a second servant, and Mr. Bronte applied to the Bradford School of Industry. It was thus that Nancy Garrs became nurse in the Bronte family, and she was with Mrs. Bronte when Charlotte Emily Jane, Patrick Branwell, and Anne were born.
Nancy Garrs married a Patrick Wainwright, and the old nurse was proud in after years to tell how Patrick Bronte entered the kitchen one day at Haworth, saying : " Nancy is it true, what I have heard, that you are going to marry a Pat?"" It is," replied Nancy,"and if he prove but a tenth part as kind a husband to me as you have been to Mrs. Bronte, I shall think myself very happy in having made a Pat my choice." In the footsteps of the Brontes.
you can read more of this period
Patrick Bronte called
" My happiest days were spent there."