Work is cracking on to transform Pioneer House on Northgate, Dewsbury, into a state-of-the-art learning centre for Kirklees College.
The project is the centre-piece of the Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative, a programme jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Kirklees Council to preserve and enhance key buildings in Dewsbury.
The council, who currently own Pioneer House but will transfer it to Kirklees College on a 125-year lease on completion, are contributing a grant of around £1.7 million towards the £2.9 million cost of renovating the building.
Major structural work is required including a new internal steel frame, timber joists and a new concrete floor on the third floor.
Asbestos is also being removed from the building, originally opened in 1880, and the basement will be entirely damp-proofed.
Clr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “Working on historic buildings like Pioneer House presents a lot of technical challenges for the teams involved, but I am impressed by the progress that is being made on site.
“I am excited by the opportunity that this construction presents for Kirklees College and for Dewsbury as a whole.”
Once the structural and restoration work is completed Kirklees College will then fit out the interior, install a lift and stair tower and landscape the land at the rear of the property.
The Pioneer Centre will open in 2019 as a specialist facility for Creative and Digital Industries, higher level qualifications, Apprenticeships, work skills and adult learning.
Kirklees College Principal Marie Gilluley said: “We are delighted to be working with Kirklees Council to reinstate such an iconic building.
“Restoring Pioneer House will celebrate the history and legacy of Dewsbury while creating a new modern learning environment and resources for people in the town and surrounding areas.
“This fabulous centre will open up new opportunities for local people to up-skill and develop their careers and play its part in regenerating Dewsbury.”
The Pioneer Centre, together with the newly built Springfield Centre on Bradford Road, will make up the Dewsbury Learning Quarter. This is set to replace two of Kirklees College’s existing campuses, the Dewsbury Centre and Batley School of Art, both located on Halifax Road.