MORE than 1,500 new jobs are part of a £200 million museum, hotel and business centre plan to transform Wentworth Woodhouse - opening the ‘Black Diamonds’ stately home to the public, The Star can reveal.
Owners hope the massive development and detailed restoration of the 18th century house will be completed in time for a 2015 opening.
And they reckon the plans will turn the Grade I listed property - currently one of the biggest private residencies in Europe - into the leading attraction of its kind anywhere in the world.
They estimate it will attract 150,000 visitors each year to see it in South Yorkshire.
Wentworth Woodhouse, on the Rotherham-Barnsley border - just a short drive north of Sheffield - is the former home of the Fitzwilliam coal-mining family dynasty, shrouded in secrecy for years and the subject of Catherine Bailey’s best selling book, Black Diamonds.
The stunning private family home, which is twice the width of Buckingham Palace, with 1,000 windows, 365 rooms and had stabling for 100 horses, can only be viewed by the public at a distance from a right of way through Wentworth Park.
But the The Star was given exclusive access on a guided tour inside the home by the existing owners, who outlined their plans ahead of Dan Cruickshank’s look at the property in his BBC2 TV series Country Houses Revealed, on Tuesday, May 31, at 9pm.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our special video report, including a chat with the owner and a tour of the magnificent home.
YOUTUBE: You can also watch on YouTube, where it can be played on the iPhone and iPad - click on the External Link in the column on the right.
Clifford Newbold, the 85-year-old London architect who bought the building in 1999 and is overseeing the development, said: “This is a magnificent house. We want to return it to its former glory, protect it for the future, and place it once again at the heart of this community.”
The property has fallen into considerable structural disrepair, thought to be because of huge mine shafts dug all around it between 1943 and 1979.
But the new plans - already given informal backing by both English Heritage and Rotherham Council - would see the central house completely restored in all its original detail and opened up as a museum. One part of the huge east wing would be transformed into a 70-bed hotel, with the remainder set to become a spa.
The huge stable block will be converted into office space,
exhibition rooms and a conference venue.