First look inside Kirklees College's £14m Dewsbury Pioneer House project

College chiefs have allowed the first look inside the stunning £14 million restoration of Dewsbury’s iconic Pioneer House landmark.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 11:45 am

The Victorian grade II-listed Co-op building in Northgate has been transformed into the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre, run by Kirklees College.

The new study centre, which will bring hundreds of students into Dewsbury town centre, will open in November.

While the specialist centre, aimed at driving up skills and career prospects, has some of the best modern facilities the building itself retains many historic features including stained glass, tiles and terrazzo flooring, wooden panelling and ornate plasterwork ceilings.

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Exclusive pictures of the Pioneer project in Dewsbury town centre

The clock in the clock tower will also be restored to full working order.

The final touch will be a sculpture on the roof by renowned Dewsbury-born artist Antony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North.

Kirklees Council carried out a compulsory purchase on the building and spent years restoring it.

The three-storey building will boast new art workshops, a hair and beauty salon, fashion and textiles studio, science labs, classrooms and IT suites, a cafe and even a Starbucks coffee shop.

Exclusive pictures of the Pioneer project in Dewsbury town centre

Wood panelling, stained glass and tiles have been retained in the new beauty salon, formerly Roberto’s Italian restaurant, and signage for the Pot Black Snooker Club, also housed in the building, has been kept.

The centre will offer full-time or part-time courses in art and design, business, early years, computing, counselling, teaching and hair and beauty.

The college will work closely with big companies including Hovis, Coca Cola, Microsoft and Myers Group.

Phillipa Firth, assistant principal for adults and higher education, said: “We are very excited to be delivering our higher education programmes from the newly-restored Pioneer Higher Skills Centre.

Exclusive pictures of the Pioneer project in Dewsbury town centre

“We hope that this specialist centre will be a welcome addition to the local area and provide the people of Dewsbury and beyond with the opportunity to learn a new skill or start a new career.”

The opening marks the start of Dewsbury’s Blueprint regeneration and Coun Peter McBride, deputy leader of Kirklees Council, described the restoration as “wonderful.”

For more information about the centre see www.kirkleescollege.ac.uk.

Exclusive pictures of the Pioneer project in Dewsbury town centre