Activists successfully preserve the original location where the famous Brontë sisters were born in Bradford.
Supporters have successfully preserved the location where the Brontë sisters were born and are currently seeking donations to transform the structure into a hub for culture and learning. This effort has been aided by an individual connected to the esteemed literary clan.
Nigel West, who can trace his family lineage to Charlotte Brontë’s spouse, has generously contributed to the crowdfunding campaign. The goal is to revamp 72-74 Market Street in Thornton, Bradford and turn it into a popular tourist spot.
Each year, approximately one million people journey to Haworth to tour the home where authors Charlotte, Anne, and Emily resided with their father, Reverend Patrick, and their rebellious brother, Branwell. There are plans to convert the Thornton house, which was put up for sale this year, into a comparable tourist destination.
The Thornton house, where the three sisters were born, has been purchased thanks to the efforts of campaigners who raised £300,000 through donations and grants, including a significant contribution from the Bradford City of Culture 2025 fund. An additional £300,000 is needed for the restoration of the Grade II* listed property. West has recently joined the campaign.
All of the Brontë sisters did not have children, but Charlotte, who wrote Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette, passed away while pregnant in 1855. After her death, her husband Arthur Bell Nicholls returned to his hometown in Ireland and lived in Hill House in Banagher until his own death.
Florrie’s cousin, Nicholls, inherited the house, and after her death in 1959, it was passed on to her nephew Jim West, who is Nigel’s father.
West, a resident of West Yorkshire and a member of the Brontë society, stated, “My father was 37 years old at the time and the property was not considered valuable, so he gifted it to the church.”
The ownership of the property has transferred multiple times and it currently operates as a bed and breakfast under the name Charlotte’s Way, paying homage to the Brontë family. In the early 20th century, a painting was found in the house, hidden on a cupboard’s surface. This painting depicts the three sisters and can now be seen at the National Portrait Gallery, known as the “pillar portrait”. It was created by Branwell, who initially included himself in the painting but later erased his own image and replaced it with a pillar.
63-year-old West, a former project manager at IBM, made a contribution to the campaign to renovate 72-74 Market Street as a way to honor his late father and support the education of children. He is particularly invested in helping children from Bradford, an area with some of the most underprivileged neighborhoods in the nation.
He mentioned that his attendance at Leeds Grammar School and York University was made possible by a direct grant. He believes that without this foundation in education, he would not have achieved the success in his career.
“It would be incredible to preserve the Brontë birthplace for future generations,” he remarked. “The proposed development of this space as a significant community site in conjunction with Bradford’s designation as UK City of Culture 2025 is a fantastic opportunity.”
The fundraiser is being led by Christa Ackroyd, a journalist who was born in Bradford and hosted local news programs for both the BBC and ITV for a significant period of time.
She expressed that on the journey to preserve the Brontë legacy, there are moments where unexpected and amazing discoveries confirm that the path is the correct one. The news that Nigel wanted to honor his late father and support education by utilizing the Brontë story to motivate future generations was incredibly moving. This highlights Nigel’s strong belief in the potential of education and our shared goal to encourage individuals to reach their goals despite any obstacles they may face.
Nigel is humble when discussing his family ties, but it is remarkable that we have the backing of a direct descendant of Charlotte Brontë’s husband. This man was responsible for caring for their father, Patrick, after all the children had left. This is a perfect illustration of synchronicity.