Cliffe Castle

Unusual  view from a postcard by Rodwell & Co Publishers, Keighley in 1908
No known copyright

The postcard, from our Digital Collection, shows Cliffe Castle Mansion in it’s full glory, while still in private hands.

It was the palatial home of local industrialist Henry Isaac Butterfield who built it on the site of Netherwood Hall. Although it is generally thought that the original house was demolished, to be re-built as The Whins it is possible that the original 1833 building was vastly extended and refurbished. The roofline (apart from the tower) does bear a striking resemblance to the roofline in what appears to be the only (very blurred) photograph that exists of Netherwood Hall.

As the last heiress to the Butterfield’s was Countess Manvers, who resided on her husband’s estate at  Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire., the mansion was no longer lived in after the death of Sir Frederick Butterfield, in 1943, and it began to fall into a state of disrepair.

In 1950 the estate was bought for Keighley Borough Council by Sir Bracewell Smith, a local lad who became Lord Mayor of London with the intention of buildinga Civic Centre and new Boy’s Grammar School and the grounds were opened to the public. Although th ground floor of the house was briefly opened to the public in 1953 the discovery of extensive dry-rot in the building required major works to make the building safe.

Sir Bracewell Smith came to the rescue again providing £50K for renovation costs with a similar amount to a Trustees group for maintenance. Unfortunately it was impossible to save the top floor of the mansion and the dutch gables were lost.  The mansion was eventaully opened as a Museum and Art Gallery in 1959.