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Arthur & Helen Currer-Briggs

Building with Voysey in Yorkshire and The Lakes

Broad Leys was commissioned by Arthur Currer-Briggs and his wife Helen in 1898.  He was the eldest son of Henry Briggs, a wealthy owner of a coal mining firm at Whitwood, nr. Wakefield, West Yorkshire.  It was a progressive and enlightened company and very much a family affair but Arthur found himself taking charge of the business at the age of 26yrs on the death of his father, a huge responsibility at this age.
No doubt to escape the rigours of the colliery Arthur and his wife enjoyed holidays in the Lake District and decided to have their own holiday home built there. They chose well….an elevated site overlooking Lake Windermere.
Arthur and Helen were great lovers of Music and the Arts.  They took a great interest in the Music Festival in Leeds and regularly held musical evenings at their house there; and as there was a grand piano in the Drawing Room at Broad Leys, they may well have had similar events here.

Arthur was Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1903

Around the same time Arthur commissioned C.F.A.Voysey to build a series of miners’ cottages and an Institute at Whitwood.  Sadly Arthur would never get to see it finished as he tragically died in 1906, age 51, just as its building began.Following his death Helen visited Broad Leys less often and rented the house out to Beatrix Potter and her family during the summers of 1909 and 1912.  Helen also continued with her philanthropic work in Leeds and in 1917 funded and organised Broad Leys as an Auxiliary Hospital for injured officers.At her death in 1936, age 77, her obituary stated:


Currer-Briggs family in the garden at Broad Leys

Helen became a good friend of Annie Garnett, the renowned Arts and Crafts textile designer in Windermere who would certainly have provided some of the fabrics used at Broad Leys. 

Arthur was an early enthusiast for the motor car in the early years of the 1900s, his first car being a Lanchester.  He was also a pioneering enthusiast for electricity and Broad Leys was electrically lit from a mains supply from the start.

Arthur was Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1903/4 despite having had no previous political career but it was a very successful year.  He and his wife were both social reformers and philanthropists and their chief and lasting legacy of the year was the founding in 1904 of the Leeds Poor Children’s Holiday Camp in Silverdale, which survived as a camp until recently.  Their aim was to give deprived children of Leeds a break in the countryside along with fresh air, exercise and wholesome food.  Helen continued to be actively involved with this even after Arthur’s untimely death in 1906.

Arthur Currer-Briggs Memorial in Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds
Voysey's wokmens' cottages at Whitwood, Yorskshire for Henry Briggs & Son Ltd.
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