Unlucky mansion in Yorkshire with 13 bedrooms for sale for a lower sum than it was marketed for in 2007 – despite having been renovated internally in the time since
Offered for sale for less than it was last marketed in a “dilapidated condition” in 2007, Whinburn Hall in the gritty West Yorkshire mill town of Keighley has now been largely restored internally but is still surrounded by neglected yet Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 protected grounds.
Described as a “fine country house… contrasting with the cramped rows of terraces in the streets behind them” according to Wikipeda, this Grade II listed Victorian Arts and Crafts mansion was built in 1897 for Prince Smith III (1869 – 1940), an exotically named gentleman who later renamed himself Prince Prince-Smith before becoming Sir Prince Prince-Smith on the death of his father in 1922.
Constructed from wealth generated by the Prince-Smith family’s textile machinery manufacturing business, Prince Smith & Son, the house was redesigned and extended in 1912 – 1913 and became a training centre for the National Institute of Houseworkers in 1940. Sold again in 1950 to the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, the “modern manor house” was run as a residential school and special referral unit until 2008 and then, after a period of dilapidation and the rejection of plans to turn Whinburn Hall into flats, was bought by a 35-year old businessman named James Sheldon in 2008.
Sheldon, who worked as a lifeboat coxswain in Southport for 18 years, restored Whinburn Hall to use as a family home and also based his business Nav-comm, a specialist in the design of LED lighting systems for emergency vehicles, there.
In the years that followed, Mr Sheldon developed what he claimed to be a new form of “anti-terror security equipment” to detect explosives and drugs from 50 metres and took a stand at a trade show in London in 2013 to showcase this. It was later described as being like “an experiment a first year university student would have tried, but which failed” and in due course West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit placed Sheldon and his father, Anthony, under investigation.
Both were arrested on allegations of fraud and on 23rd June 2015, after two police officers visited Whinburn Hall to inform the duo that they were to be rebailed for three months, 42-year old James Sheldon tragically jumped to his death from the fourth floor tower of the hall. It later transpired he had been served with an eviction order due his non-payment of the mortgage on the house and faced debts of some £1.25 million ($1.62 million or €1.45 million).
The main property, which is now for sale through agents Dacre Son & Hartley for just £1.45 million ($1.87 million or €1.68 million), currently – rather unluckily, some might also argue – features 13 bedrooms and 7 reception rooms. It comes with a detached bungalow and a dilapidated gatehouse and stands in 7 acres of protected gardens that includes a folly designed by the renowned Lancastrian garden designer and landscape architect Thomas Mawson. Hopefully the next owner, aside from tackling this “overgrown jungle”, will also bring with them better luck.
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