Longlands Hall up for sale…

Longlands Hall was put up for sale by Mary Merrall on 16th July 1919. It was the former home of industrialist Edwin Robinson Merrall whose family owned Lees Mill and Ebor Mills in the Worth Valley which the house overlooked. Edwin was the second son of Michael Merrall. It was the last of four houses owned by the Merrall family. The house was designed by Keighley architect J. B. Bailey and was built between 1882 and 1884. The architectural style is Northern Manor House, a mixture of classical and exaggerated Jacobean styles.

It was occupied by the Merralls with their seven children up until the start of the First World War. Following the death of Edwin and his son Philip, it was sold by Mary Merrall in 1919. The sale included 25 acres of grounds, a lodge, and a yard well away from the house with washing shed, carriage shed, coach house, harness room, a Dutch barn, the groom’s cottage and a petrol store.

The property was bought by a Mr Inglis for personal use in the early 1920s, and then sold to a Mr Paley in 1939, who had plans to turn the house into a hotel. After the war it was sold to textile producers the Heald Brothers for use as a hostel for Italian immigrant mill girls. In the 1960s, housing was built on the surrounding land and the house fell into disrepair. It was sold as a retirement home around this period before the Youth Hostel Association purchased the hall for £23,500 in 1974.

The house had been brought to the attention of the YHA by local policeman Jens Hislop and the house was vested in the YHA on the 18th October 1974. It was bought and developed through a combination of grants from The Countryside Commission, West Yorkshire County Council, and the Department of Education and Science.

The Youth Hostel was officially opened on the 8th May 1976 by Councillor J. S. Bell, Chairman of West Yorkshire County Council. It is located on Longlands Drive, off Lees Lane in Cross Roads with Lees, just outside Haworth.

Although it officially opened in May 1976, the hostel was active from earlier, possibly even late 1975. The first wardens were John and Sue Page and there were 90 beds. Many of the ground floor rooms, including the ballroom and lounge, were converted to staff quarters. Extensive modernisation began in 1994, including adapting some of the ground floor staff rooms into dormitory and guest rooms, and sub-dividing some of the large upstairs dormitories into smaller dormitories. Further redevelopments and improvements followed in 2009 and 2012. In 2020 the hostel boasts 89 beds across two single rooms, two double rooms, one three bedded room, three four bedded rooms, six six bedded rooms, one seven bedded room and three eight bedded rooms.

The main image shows Central Park in Haworth with Longlands Hall on the hill in the distance, and is from a Lilywhite postcard. The inset image is a John Arthur Dixon postcard for the YHA from around 1980.

Author: Admin Tim

Tim is a committee member of the Keighley and District Local History Society, with responsibilities for archiving the physical and digital collections, and managing some of the social media channels. He moved to Keighley about ten years ago and joined the Society to learn more about the area.

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