A community centre – featuring a stone sculpture known as the Pancake Dog – has re-opened after a £500,000 refit.

Dewsbury Labour MP Paula Sherriff and the Deputy Mayor of Kirklees, Clr Gwen Lowe, were among 100 guests attending the relaunch of Howlands at School Street, Dewsbury. Also attending were representatives of the Big Lottery Fund, which funded the work, and contractor HB Projects, of Bradford.

The former school has long been used by Dewsbury and District League of Friendship, which uses it for arts and crafts sessions.

The old "Pancake Dog" on the roof of the Howlands Building in Dewsbury

Now the building will be able to host a wider variety of events for more community groups following improvements which included sandblasting the window surrounds, fitting double glazing and installing new central heating, air conditioning and insulation.

The building is also home to the Pancake Dog, a weather-beaten stone sculpture which has stood on the roof since the late 1880s.

Local legend has it that on Shrove Tuesday, when the school bell rang, the dog was allowed down from its perch to enjoy a pancake. However, since the figure was removed, cleaned up and replaced at the top of the building it now more closely resembles a lion.

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League of Friends chairman Tom Ellis said the reopening was a major milestone for the group, which only secured Big Lottery funding last September.

He said: “We have interviewed and hired architects, then we interviewed and hired builders. It was decisions and more decisions as we chose everything new for the building – that is except for the Pancake Dog, who has been cleaned and moved to the roof at the front of the building. He now looks more like a lion – but then we don’t want a lion jumping down on Pancake Day!”