Cliff House in Wortley is the focus of Mark Stevenson’s latest post in a series shining a spotlight on the 18 buildings or monuments at risk in West Leeds. The house was badly damaged in an arson attack in March last year.
In 1929 Leeds City Council received a gift in the form of Cliff House, also known as Western Flatts, from Stephen Cliff, one of Joseph Cliff’s 14 children. Joseph Cliff & Sons were brick manufacturers and along with the Burmantofts Pottery Company they formed Leeds Fireclay Company.
Cliff House dates from 1846 and is noted for its staircase and mosaic floor where it is said a famous racehorse is buried. Between 1966 and when it closed on the 31st August 1998 the building was known as Newcliffe House School, a Community Special School.
Joseph Cliff was well known in Leeds for his business enterprises, and he was also a councillor for the Hunslet Ward. He was influential in establishing the Upper and Lower Wortley Cemetery and Chapel in Oldfield Lane.
Walter Cliff offered land to the council to form Lower Wortley Recreation Ground (now Western Flatts Park) in 1902. His brother, Stephen, donated the house and grounds in 1929. The family believed in the creation of parks as beneficial to the health of work people.