Pioneer gets student help

Dave Hall, John Lambe, Luke Oliver and Kevin Byrne examining the part of Pioneer House formerly used as a restaurant.
Dave Hall, John Lambe, Luke Oliver and Kevin Byrne examining the part of Pioneer House formerly used as a restaurant.

Kirklees College construction students will be involved in Dewsbury’s biggest restoration project – Pioneer House.

Students from Dewsbury Construction Academy are keen to get involved in the restoration of the 19th century landmark.

Kirklees Council owns the Grade II listed building, which is being restored as part of the Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) – a £3.7m Heritage Lottery Fund regeneration programme covering the Northgate area of the town centre.

Kirklees College staff Jonathan Inglesfield, Kevin Byrne and Luke Oliver have taken a tour of the site with Dewsbury THI Officer John Lambe to look at how the college can get involved.

They were joined by Dave Hall from British Gypsum, which sponsors Dewsbury Construction Academy.

If test samples prove successful, students will begin by renovating cornices, which will be removed from the building and completed at college.

There is also an opportunity for students to become involved in other improvements throughout the building, including painting,

Dewsbury construction curriculum team leader Jonathan 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 has been working with The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to look at other heritage projects. The college also hope to offer specialist restoration courses in the next few years.

Pioneer House was owned by Stayon Group but in 2011 it lost an appeal against a compulsory purchase order – forcing them to hand the keys over the Kirklees Council.

A report said it would be better preserved in the hands of the Kirklees.

Since then significant repairs have been made to the roof, windows and stonework to make the building waterproof. But the council has struggled to find tenants willing to move into the building.

Connect Housing as due to be the first tenants to move in to the Northgate building this year, but they pulled out in June after finding another property in Dewsbury.