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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Campaigners save Bronte farmhouse

BY NEIL HUDSON AN HISTORIC farm building with Bronte connections, which formed part of a Leeds murder investigation, has been saved from demolition after local campaigners succeeded in getting it listed.

Bronte enthusiasts applied to have Thornbush Farm, on Miry Lane, Hightown, Liversedge - formerly known as Lousy Farm - listed after it was put up for auction twice last year. It was feared that the farm would be sold and demolished and the land used for housing. The building was home to Patrick Bronte, the father of the famous Bronte sisters, for up to four years from around 1811.

The 12-acre smallholding was raided by police in 2004 during the inquiry into the murder of wealthy Leeds businessman John Luper. Mr Luper, 57, died after robbers broke into his house and held him hostage. The thieves stole cash and jewellery. Police dug up land at the farm in the hunt for clues.

Last year, the farm was put up for auction but attracted no buyers. That prompted enthusiasts to campaign for it to be listed. Immelda Marsden, from Mirfield, who led the campaign, said: "We've got it listed as a Grade II structure. I am very pleased. "I had letters asking about it from people all over the world. This means that it cannot now be pulled down, or that it would be an offence to do so. "Hopefully now someone will do something with it. When I wrote my letters to English Heritage, I mentioned about its history and the connections with Patrick Bronte and the Luddites.

"I think it's good in terms of attracting more people to the area who are interested in the Brontes and local history in general. It would have been a shame to lose the building." Patrick Bronte lived at the farm after arriving from Ireland and before he took up a position at Hartshead Church. He later moved back to Clough House, on the same road as the farm. A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: "Thornbush Farm has architectural interest as an unmodernised set of rural cottages, altered to form a single dwelling at the centre of a farmstead, probably in the 19th century. The major part of the fabric and original features are intact. "However, it is its historical significance that gives it a high degree of special interest. "As the former home of Patrick Bronte, the building has strong historic allure which contributes towards its merit for listed status."

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