Workers have begun the multi-million revamp of Dewsbury town centre – starting with Pioneer House.

The historic building – which in its glory days was home to an impressive ballroom/cinema, banking hall and luxurious shops – is currently just an empty shell after years of neglect.

The 1872 built former Co-operative building at Northgate was saved by Kirklees Council in 2011 and made wind and watertight in 2013.

£11.1m of investment has been allocated by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Fund to bring it back to life as a new campus for Kirklees College.

A total of £18.5m is being invested in improving Dewsbury town centre.

Work starts on multi-million pound revamp of Dewsbury

Clr Peter McBride, cabinet member in charge of regeneration, said: “Bringing Pioneer House back into use as a college for the further education of our local young people feels fitting.

“This is a building that was developed to deliver the Dewsbury Pioneers idealism and vision of a better social order.

“Our aim is to redevelop the building so that it is fit for future generations to use for many years to come.

“We will also look to maintain some of the rich history of the buildings past.

“I believe that this work marks the start of a new period of regeneration for North Kirklees and the opportunity for renewed growth and prosperity.”

Kirklees College vice principal, Melanie Brooke, said: “We are excited by the prospect of being at the heart of the transformation plans for Dewsbury.

Kirklees College Vice Principal Melanie Brooke at the new Huddersfield site
Kirklees College Vice Principal Melanie Brooke at the new Huddersfield site

“The £18.5m investment in education facilities through the development of Dewsbury Learning Quarter would mean that we are able to provide fantastic opportunities for students, employers and apprentices in this area in a more accessible town centre location.

“It will provide the college with a chance to redefine and build on its offer to meet the needs of local businesses, school leavers and the wider community.”

Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said: “I’m delighted that our growth deal funding is helping to transform North Kirklees by converting an iconic building into a new college campus, as part of the wider regeneration programme for the area.

“Our investment will provide high quality education facilities that meet the skills needs of learners and employers, boosting jobs and growth in the region.

“Ensuring that training provision and facilities meet the current and future needs of businesses, individuals and the wider economy is a key part of our employment and skills plan.”