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.

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 reversed an earlier decision and decided that the Bretton Hall site was not financially viable, and the School of Performance and Cultural Industries should move to the main university campus in summer 2007, allowing all existing Bretton-based students to complete their studies there. The closure was documented on the BBC website by 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 would be developed as a luxury hotel and spa.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) was founded in the college parkland by Bretton Hall lecturer Peter Murray CBE. YSP has become a leading international art centre renowned for art and performance in the landscape. When the college closed, Yorkshire Sculpture Park took over the estate grounds and lakes.[2][3]

In May 2013 a series of special visits to the former hostels (halls of residence) was co-organised by Wakefield Council, YSP, the developer Rushbond and Bretton Hall alumni. Photographs were taken of every hostel room.[4] A further event was organised in September 2013 to visit the mansion. Rushbond will ensure that a complete photographic record will be taken of the building before 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",, 2 November 2005. Retrieved on 25 February 2008.
  2. ^ Announcement from Wakefield Council about the future use of Bretton Hall, November 2007 Archived July 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  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