Kirklees students will become part of history when they join a massive restoration project in the New Year.
Several construction pupils from Kirklees College’s Dewsbury Construction Academy will be amongst the team involved in the delicate five-year renovation of the impressive former Co-operative Pioneer House in Dewsbury.
The building has been laying empty for several years, but now work has been ongoing for over a year. The refurbishment of the Grade II listed Northgate building, which is owned by Kirklees Council, is thanks to a £2m Heritage Lottery Fund grant and £1.7m from Kirklees Council.
If test samples prove successful, the first project the students will be undertaking is renovating cornices, which will be removed from the building and completed at college.
And there will also be the opportunity for students to become involved in other improvements throughout the building, such as the painting, and with other priority buildings in the area.
Staff from Kirklees College, Jonathan Inglesfield, Kevin Byrne and Luke Oliver enjoyed a tour of the site with Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative officer John Lambe from Kirklees Council to look at how the college could get involved.
The news is a welcome follow up to students’ visit in 2013, where they were inspired by the work that had already taken place.
Dewsbury Construction Curriculum Team Leader Mr Inglesfield said: “We are really excited about the chance to get our students working on Pioneer House.
“Not only will they be contributing to the local community by helping to preserve one of the area’s biggest and best known landmark buildings, but they will also be learning specialist skills in a real work setting which will help towards their experience and personal development.”
Jonathan is working with The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to look at other heritage projects and the college hopes to offer specialist restoration courses in the next few years.
Constructed in 1872 by Henry Holtom and George Fox architects, the building was used to house the town’s Pioneers’ Industrial Society and seated 1000 people, before becoming the Pioneer Theatre and the Pot Black snooker hall.
It had later fallen into a state of disrepair but it is now hoped it will be transformed into six one-bedroom local authority flats after the council obtained a compulsory purchase order from its previous owners in 2009.