Bretton Hall College of Education

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Bretton Hall College of Education was a teacher training college in West Bretton in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. It opened in 1949 at Bretton Hall. The college merged with the University of Leeds in 2001 but closed in 2007.


In 1949 Bretton Hall College, a teacher training college founded by Alec Clegg specialising in innovative courses in design, music and the visual and performance arts, opened in the historic Bretton Hall in West Bretton, Yorkshire. It became an affiliated college of the University of Leeds, which validated its degrees.

Most significantly it was from the college that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) emerged, founded by Bretton Hall lecturer Peter Murray CBE. YSP has become a leading international art centre renowned for art and performance in the landscape.

The college had financial difficulties, and, with the support of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), merged with the University of Leeds in August 2001. Most of the music, fine art and teacher training courses were moved to the Leeds campus, but visual and performing arts education and creative writing remained at the Bretton site, which became home to the University's School of Performance and Cultural Industries.

In December 2004, the University's governing body (Council), reversed an earlier decision and decided that the Bretton Hall site was not financially viable, and that the school should move to the main University campus in summer of 2007 (allowing all existing Bretton-based students to complete their studies there). The closure was documented on the BBC diary by the student Clair Parker.[1]

In June 2006 it was announced that Bretton Hall was to be sold to Wakefield Council. On May 3, 2007, John Godber presented Final Curtain, a documentary on Bretton Hall, broadcast on BBC Radio 4. On 5 and 6 May 2007, a reunion was organised for the alumni and students of Bretton Hall between 1947 and 2007 as a celebration of the school's contribution to the arts industry and also the academic excellence it produced over sixty years. On the Saturday, Mike Levon staged a concert in the Music Salon.

In November 2007 it was announced that Bretton Hall was to be developed as a luxury hotel and spa. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park would take over the estate grounds and lakes.[2][3]

In April 2013 Wakefield Council (to whom ownership of the site had reverted in 2007) approved the first phase of the project with the relevant listed building consent, which was subsequently approved by the Secretary of State (standard planning rule for developments of this type). The Mansion will be restored and 40 hotel bedrooms provided, a range of 1960s buildings will be demolished and a tree management programme will be initiated. Outline permission was given for the later phases to create more hotel and creative business accommodation. Target opening date is in 2015.

In May 2013 there were a series of special visits to the former hostels (halls of residence), co-organised by Wakefield Council, YSP, the developer Rushbond and the Bretton Hall Alumni. Photographs were taken of every hostel room.[4] A further special event was organised in September 2013 to visit the main Mansion building. Rushbond will ensure that a complete photographic record will be taken of the building prior to refurbishment.

Notable alumni[edit]

Graduates include Richard O'Brien, Louisa Leaman, Kay Mellor, Colin Welland, John Godber, Comedian Ray Peacock (Ian Boldsworth), Sir Ken Robinson, David Rappaport, Mark Thomas, Jonathan Kerrigan, Esther Hall, the comedian and actress Emma Fryer, Queer as Folk actress Carla Henry, the pop band The Research, three of the four League of Gentlemen creators/performers, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, Emmerdale's Emily Kirk, performer Hayli Clifton, actress Kate McGregor, actor Tom Lorcan, Shelley Conn and educationalist Wil Edmunds.


  1. ^ Parker,Clair."Bye-bye Bretton Hall", The BBC Diary, 2 November 2005. Retrieved on 25 February 2008.
  2. ^ Announcement from Wakefield Council about the future use of Bretton Hall, November 2007
  3. ^ "Bretton Hall". Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "Hostel images 2013". Bretton Hall 1947-2007. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°36′39″N 1°34′22″W / 53.6107°N 1.5729°W / 53.6107; -1.5729