The local heroes who saved East Riddlesden Hall
After years of neglect during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the historic East Riddlesden Hall sadly fell into disrepair. In 1905 the Starkie Wing was almost entirely demolished – only the façade survived.
By 1913 the estate was in the process of being sold. The trustees of the owner (the late Colonel Bence) sold several 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 Brigg brothers step in
The mayor of Keighley, William Brigg, and his twin brother John saw the importance of the property and paid £2,000 to buy back the fittings. They reserved their right of removal in the hope that public funding could be secured to retain them. But their plan proved unsuccessful and in 1914 and 1921 much of the estate was sold, including land, canal wharves and cottages.
The fate of the hall was discussed again in 1924 when the Borough Council considered buying it for the public. A few years later the Keighley Corporation showed some interest but eventually the estate was sold in 1933 to Harry Emmott from Keighley. He planned to demolish the hall and rebuild it elsewhere in Yorkshire, or to incorporate the stone into other buildings.
The rescue plan
Saddened by the news, the Brigg brothers stepped in again and purchased the hall and 12 acres of land for several thousand pounds. Emmott retained the rest for building and today the East Riddlesden Hall is surrounded by 1930's residential housing estates.
In 1934 the Briggs brothers donated the property to the National Trust. It was bequeathed on the understanding that it would be conserved and that the land surrounding it would be used for recreation by the local communities. Their passion for East Riddlesden Hall ultimately ensured that it would be saved for everyone, for ever.