Memories of Kirklees College as former site becomes new police HQ

Work is underway to transform the former Kirklees College site on Halifax Road, Dewsbury, into what will soon become our area’s new state-of-the-art police headquarters.

By Staff Reporter
Saturday, 21st May 2022, 5:00 pm

The proposed relocation of the current police station from Aldams Road onto the new Halifax Road site is being seen as a new and a far more strategic response aimed at tackling crime levels within a rapidly changing North Kirklees district.

But while the noise of drills, currently being heard inside the empty vacant buildings, is a sign of the workmen’s arrival, and the start of the much-anticipated move, it also marks the end of some interesting history.

The “old college” on Halifax Road was until not so long ago an important further education hub for generations of local men and women.

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The former Kirklees College buildings on Halifax Road in Dewsbury

The various different “blocks” provided a wide variety of post-16 learning courses, along with numerous daytime vocational training schemes.

A range of GCSEs, A-levels, BTEC diplomas and a selection of “transitional” classes could also be studied. The same classes were available to enrol on during the evenings for those who did not have time to learn in the day.

The previous five decades have also seen different signs put up outside the college buildings.

From its old "DABTAC" (Dewsbury and Batley Technical Art College) name of the 1970s and 80s, to its 1990s Dewsbury College identity, and then to the latest Kirklees College label, the campus on Halifax Road over the years saw thousands of students going through its doors.

Packed out morning rush-hour bus services were driven through Mirfield and Ravensthorpe into Dewsbury Bus Station.

The 268 double-decker buses from Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike heading towards Halifax Road were also regularly seen stopping outside the college’s main reception block, or outside the adjacent Oldroyd Building to “drop off” hundreds of students.

The montage image shows a selection of photos taken only very recently.

Top left is a photo of the main “reception building” on Halifax Road outside where the 268 bus service still stops.

Opened in 1978 by the-then Labour Education Secretary, Shirley Williams MP, this “reception block” had inside it the college’s library, canteen, careers services hub, a bookshop selling paper and stationery, as well as all the BTEC business studies rooms, computing suites, and several European languages classes.

The reception block is now earmarked for demolition and its exact same location will make way for a custody suite and public helpdesk within the new police headquarters.

The second photo on the left shows the front entrance of what used to be the college’s Oldroyd Building. This iconic Victorian structure housed all the science classes (known to students as “the labs”) on its top floor.

The rooms on the lower floors were used by those enrolled on courses such as catering and hospitality, hairdressing, and sewing/clothes-making, as well as much more.

A view of the Oldroyd Building is shown from the Carlton Road side in the third photo on the left.

A derelict plot of land used to have large temporary buildings. It was in these cabins where subjects like A-level psychology and A-level law were taught.

This plot was purchased by the college after Carlton Primary School moved out to its new location in Batley Carr. The ex-Carlton School building later had in it the college’s history, geography and sociology classes.

Both the cabins and the old Carlton Primary School building were demolished over ten years ago.

The old “engineering block” was where apprenticeships and other different types of training schemes were offered to students.

This actual building also had in it the rooms where pre-vocational courses were given to those school-leavers who had left state education with low GCSE exam results.

The main photo in the centre-right shows the beautiful “Clock Tower” on what was once the college’s Boothroyd Building (named after Dewsbury born former House of Commons Speaker, Betty Boothroyd MP).

The Boothroyd Building had inside it two large spacious halls where English and mathematics workshops were held to help students prepare for their GCSE exams.

ESOL classes for beginners’ (whose first language was not English) also used to take place inside this building. A small carpeted Students Mosque Payer Room was open for use in these premises as well.

The Boothroyd Building was sold off several years ago and now has in it privately owned flats. This building is to remain unaffected by the refurbishment elsewhere.

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