Local heroes

The two donors of East Riddlesden Hall

After years of neglect this historic building was sadly being prepared for demolition, a decision that would have a devastating effect on over a thousand years of history. Two local brothers with a passion for the Hall stepped in to save the property and donated it to the National Trust to be conserved and looked after for ever.

In 1913 the estate was in disrepair and in the process of being sold.  The trustees of the owner (the late Colonel Bence) sold a number of internal fittings including fireplaces, panelling and plaster ceilings.  There was speculation at the time that the hall would be taken down stone by stone and reconstructed in America.

The property fell into disrepair, and in 1905 all but the facade of the Starkie wing was demolished
External photo of manor house in a very bad state of repair
The property fell into disrepair, and in 1905 all but the facade of the Starkie wing was demolished

The mayor of Keighley, William Brigg, and his twin brother John saw the importance of the property and paid £2000 to buy back the sold fittings.  They reserved their right of removal, hoping that public funding could be raised to retain them.  The plan was unsucessful, and in 1914 and 1921 much of the estate including land, canal wharves and cottages were sadly sold.

The Brigg brothers knew the importance of the property and fought to save it from demolition
Photo taken through the front gates with the driveway, pond and house in the distance
The Brigg brothers knew the importance of the property and fought to save it from demolition

The fate of the hall was discussed again in 1924 with possible acquisition for the public by the Borough Council.  A few years later Keighley Corporation showed some interest but eventually the estate was sold in 1933 to Harry Emmott from Keighley. He planned to demolish and re-erect the Hall elsewhere in Yorkshire, or to incorporate the stone into other buildings.

The plans of the estate prepared for auction. Lot 19 is now looked after by the National Trust
An historic map from the 1930s showing the estate divided by lots for auction
The plans of the estate prepared for auction. Lot 19 is now looked after by the National Trust

Saddened by the news, the Brigg brothers stepped in again by purchasing the Hall and 12 acres of land for several thousand pounds.  Emmott retained the rest for building, and today the Hall is surrounded by 1930's residential housing estates.

The Brigg brothers handing over the Hall deeds to the Marquess of Zetland, chairman of the National Trust in front of the Hall entrance porch, 1934
The Brigg brothers handing over the Hall deeds to the Marquess of Zetland, chairman of the National Trust in front of the Hall entrance porch, 1934
The Brigg brothers handing over the Hall deeds to the Marquess of Zetland, chairman of the National Trust in front of the Hall entrance porch, 1934

In 1934, the two brothers donated the Hall to the National Trust with the understanding that it would be looked after for ever and that the land surrounding it would be used for recreation by the local communities.