We have enough investment to buy the Birthplace. We need another £355,000 to renovate and open to public for Bradford 2025 City of Culture.
by Brontë Birthplace Limited in Bradford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
WHY INVEST IN OWNERSHIP OF THE BRONTË BIRTHPLACE
This is an opportunity for you to invest in and 'own a piece of' the historic Brontë Birthplace. With investments already made via this and our previous Crowdfunder, together with £250,000 grant funding from Bradford 2025 UK City of Culture, we have agreed the price of £300,000 and are progressing the purchase with the seller. We have made significant and amazing progress with making our vision a reality. We still need to meet our Crowdfunder target to secure an additional £355,000 - this is specifically in order to be able to fund the full refurbishment of the building and to cover running costs, so that we can open to the public in time for Bradford 2025 City of Culture.
Should we fail to achieve our target by the share offer end date, we will still complete the purchase and our investors will own the birthplace. With the money available we will make a start on the refurbishment whilst continuing to try to raise funds by other means. We are in the process of seeking match funding for the Crowdfunder which could potentially provide an additional £100,000 if we reach at least £110,000, so every contribution helps us towards our goal. We therefore encourage anyone who has already invested to add to their investment and spread the word to their friends and workplace.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I INVEST?
The suggested sums for investment are minimum levels. The faster we reach our target, the more certain we will be that we can refurbish and open the property to the public. Shares are one pound each and range from a minimum of £10 for local residents and young people to a maximum of £30,000 for individuals and £100,000 for businesses/organisations. Each investment category has a box to fill in for any additional sum to the one selected, so you can donate whatever sum you like above the minimum for that category.
An exciting offer for those who invest £15,000 or more is access to a 2 day stay in a double bedroom every year over a period of 15 years. Imagine actually staying in the house where the Brontës were born and having breakfast in front of the fireplace where they were born. A truly unique experience. You will also be recognised as a Brontë Birthplace Limited patron and will have a guided tour for you and your chosen guests, an invitation to our gala opening and see your name or your company name inscribed on a commemorative plaque in the Birthplace.
We of course welcome all contributions, large or small – the more Members we have the more of a community business we become.
WHAT DOES SHARE OWNERSHIP MEAN?
Each £1 you invest equates to 1 ownership share in Brontë Birthplace Limited. Investors will receive a share certificate and become Members of Brontë Birthplace Limited, our Community Benefit Company (CBS). As a Member you have a say in how the CBS is run through your vote (each Member has one vote, regardless of the size of their shareholding). You also have a chance to stand for election to the Management Committee.
A Community Benefit Society is not a charity, but it is not for profit. It is a community business owned and run by the community for the benefit of community. Community ownership will mean that the Brontë Birthplace is opened to the public and can take its place at last as an important part of the Brontë story in Bradford District.
WHY DOES THE BRONTE BIRTHPLACE NEED YOUR SUPPORT ?
A humble terraced house in Thornton, Bradford is the birthplace of greatness. There in front of the parlour fireplace were born the most famous literary sisters the world has ever known, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte.
Thanks to an incredible amount of fundraising from the local community and a substantial grant from Bradford City of Culture 2025 we have been able to make a successful offer on the Bronte birthplace. But we still need a major financial effort to open the doors to visitors in time for this momentous year in the city’s cultural journey in which the Bronte sisters played such an important part. The Grade11* listed house has stood empty for almost four years. It’s roof is leaking and it’s windows rotting. It is indeed a sad sight.
As well as urgent and expensive repairs, a kitchen needs to be installed for our cafe and the bedrooms where the sisters slept renovated to install facilities expected in today’s letting market. But above all we need to fund our educational plans under the umbrella of Be More Bronte to inspire young people to reach for their dreams no matter who they are, or where they come from, just as the sisters did. Once open, schoolchildren from Bradford and beyond will be invited to stand by the fireplace besides which the Bronte girls were born and share their poetry, display their art and read their stories before writing their hopes and dreams on our ambition wall.
And so although we have come a long way, we still need your help to renovate and preserve this Grade2* listed building for future generations, providing an important and historic piece of the past to safeguard the future for generations born and raised in Bronte sisters’ city of birth.. and beyond.
We aim to inspire and educate all who visit, from schoolchildren to arts and literature enthusiasts, in celebration of the world’s most famous literary family whose message of inclusivity in terms of gender, class and race is as relevant today as when the three ambitious Bradford girls took the literary world by storm.
WHY DOES THE BRONTË BIRTHPLACE NEED SAVING?
The birthplace of the three iconic Brontë sisters is a small stone-built terraced house on Market Street in Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford, West Yorkshire. A Grade II* building of historic importance, it now stands forlorn and in a state of disrepair, empty and unloved, and up for sale. Yet two centuries ago it was the centre of village life when educator and social reformer the Reverend Patrick Brontë came to Thornton as the local vicar. There his wife Maria gave birth to their three famous daughters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne and their brother Branwell in front of the fireplace in the parlour, which fortunately remains in place. These were the ‘happiest years’ for the family according to Patrick, yet few now know of the part their home in Thornton played in their story, which led to them being recognised as the most influential female writers of their generation, capturing the hearts of their readers to this day.
HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP
The Brontë Birthplace Community Share Offer is an exciting opportunity to play a key role in securing this crucial piece of the Brontë legacy:
Our share offer aims to raise the funds to restore the building and convert it into a community arts, culture, heritage and education resource, providing a unique way to engage with the Brontë sisters and their legacy.
Our proposal to convert part of the property into holiday accommodation for tourists will provide funds for community engagement and allow Brontë fans to immerse themselves in the landscape, hearth, and home that so shaped them.
Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne were born in front of this fireplace
OUR VISION AND WHO WE ARE
We are a dedicated group of passionate and knowledgeable locals and Bradfordians who are moved to save the Brontë birthplace for our city, for Yorkshire and for the nation. What is more, by 2025 when Bradford is crowned the UK’s City of Culture this ambitious restoration proposal will see the little terraced house ringing once again to the sound of happy voices as Brontë enthusiasts learn just how these three Thornton girls were extraordinary in their courage and their talent. They will be able to spend time overnight or sit beside the fireplace in front of which they were born enjoying faire from our cafe or attend cultural or educational events centred on the life of this remarkable Thornton family. Local schoolchildren will be able to visit and learn the valuable lesson of the Brontë sisters and their achievements which show that wherever you are born, whatever your background, with passion and belief you can achieve great things. They can literally be inspired to walk in their footsteps.
The Community Benefit Society, Brontë Birthplace Limited, has been set up to achieve this. The management committee includes Brontë experts, community representatives and business people who already have the community behind them. And we have done it before.
OTHER BRONTË HERITAGE SITES IN THORNTON
Twenty years ago the Old Bell Chapel in Thornton where Patrick Brontë preached in front of his family and his congregation was also derelict. Now it has been rescued, reborn and is open to those who wish to discover more about this incredible family. Meanwhile across the road is the first permanent exhibition and Brontë experience outside Haworth in the church that was built to replace Patrick’s chapel, containing original artefacts, including the girls’ christening records and their father’s well-worn desk. It has already become an important space for people who love the Brontës to learn more and has attracted visitors from all over the country and abroad. Group Members were responsible for these innovations to keep the Thornton Brontë connection alive. Kipping House, the home of the Brontës’ good friend Elizabeth Firth, is now preserved by another Committee Member.
St James Church and the Brontë Bell Chapel
Now we seek the save the remaining part of the Brontë story of Thornton.
As Bradford approaches its momentous moment in our country’s cultural journey, what family were ever more an example of what can be achieved with belief, Yorkshire grit and determination than the Brontës? The three sisters were determined to succeed and so are we.
Our Community Fundraising Group has now made a successful offer on The Brontë Birthplace, a Blue Plaque property, however we still need to achieve our full target of £355,000 in order to refurbish it and open to the public.
The building has had a chequered recent history, with ownership frequently changing hands and it had an uncertain future. By securing it for the benefit of the local community we will complete the “jigsaw” of the Brontë’s lives in Bradford from the date of their birth in Thornton, prior to their move to their more recognised later home in Haworth.
"The former parsonage at Thornton, where the famous Brontë siblings were born, played a significant part in the family’s story. The house is currently inaccessible to admirers of the Brontës and the general public alike. It feels important that it should be preserved and play a part in celebrating the legacy of the extraordinary Brontë family. The Brontë Society, who run the Brontë Parsonage Museum, fully support this project to save the Brontë Birthplace for the community."
Ann Dinsdale, Principal Curator, Brontë Parsonage Museum
Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW
There is a short window of opportunity to bring this unique heritage asset into community ownership and management.
We had already raised funds of £59,500 even before the share offer went live which has gone towards feasibility studies, share offer and business plan preparation and securing planning and listed building consent. Having the latter already in place means we can move quickly with the refurbishment once the building sale has been completed. The key timeline is:
Community activities will include writing workshops, activities for schools across the Bradford district, artist commissions and residencies and other activities with a Brontë and local heritage focus. The project will reach out to the broader Bradford District, working with a variety of communities, schools and academies to access people in the most deprived areas of the city. The Brontë sisters are outstanding role models. They are an example of how to remain true to your ambitions and dreams even in a world that is not supportive of them, that it is possible to succeed even if you are in some way or another disadvantaged compared to others whether due to gender, ethnicity, sexuality or deprivation. Such groups will be specifically targeted and will have the opportunity for creative involvement with reading, writing and arts and showing the role of women in our heritage – aiding literacy, empowering creativity, building pride and building a “cultural habit”. Brontë trails from the house in Thornton across the moors to Haworth will help fitness and wellbeing.
One of the Brontë Stones Walks
Bringing people together under the Brontë roof and engaging them with activities will help overcome isolation, thus aiding mental health. The events space will offer children in Bradford, the youngest city in the UK, to engage in culture, as well as being inspired by the Brontë legacy. All of this will contribute to the government’s levelling up agenda in one of the most deprived cities in the UK.
The Great Northern Railway Viaduct over Pinchbeck Valley, Thornton
The refurbishment of the Brontë Birthplace will also significantly increase the attractiveness of Market Street, previously a bustling shopping street which has recently attracted some new and exciting arts and business ventures. For visitors and local people it will add another dimension to the story of the Brontë family in the Bradford District, presenting their early lives and building connections between the birthplace and the Brontë Bell Chapel both in Thornton, and the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth where they grew up. This provides an opportunity to contribute to building an appealing tourist offer for visitors to Bradford, offering rich “bookable products” to international and national tourists. The Birthplace will offer a unique opportunity for local, national and international Brontë enthusiasts to stay in the house where the world-famous Brontë sisters were born and the café and events space will provide a welcome new facility for locals and the people of Bradford and beyond.
A path to Wuthering Heights
BRONTË BIRTHPLACE LIMITED – COMMUNITY BENEFIT SOCIETY
Brontë Birthplace Limited is a Community Benefit Society registered on 19th June 2023 as Society number 9088 with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The registered address is 1 Lower Kipping Lane, Thornton, Bradford, BD13 3JT. The Society will become a community-owned social enterprise and by subscribing for shares issued by the society in this share offer you will become a Member of it, thus co-owner of the Brontë Birthplace. Unlike a standard limited company, a Community Benefit Society is not designed to generate private profit, but to deliver a community benefit. This model guarantees that the assets the Society will own will be used for the benefit of the community and cannot be disposed of for the private profit of the Management Committee or Society Members.
COMMUNITY SHARES STANDARD MARK
The Community Shares Standard Mark is awarded by the Community Shares Unit to offers that meet national standards of good practice.
Our detailed share offer, business plan and our governing rules are attached below. Please read these to insure you are fully informed before you decide to invest.