Heritage works take shape at Pioneer House
Anyone who has visited Dewsbury this year is likely to be wondering what exactly is happening behind the big dark grey boards on the ring road that surround Pioneer House. Whilst the outside looks relatively untouched a great deal of work is underway inside to prepare the building for its new tenants Kirklees College.
What has been happening in Pioneer House?
The work to repair and restore historic features in Pioneer House, which is a Listed Building, is being carried out.
Major structural work is needed, with a new internal steel frame, timber joists and boards being put in two of the three sections of the buildings, and concrete floors being replaced in the third.
As with most old buildings the delicate work of safely removing asbestos has also had to take place.
Work really has been top to bottom with Pioneer House’s large basement being damp-proofed, and new drainage being installed.
Who has done the work?
The project has been designed by Leeds-based conservation architects Farrell & Clark and structural engineers Mason Clark Associates.
The repair and restoration works are being undertaken by specialist contractor Heritage Building & Conservation Ltd . Their work is extensive with original internal features, including decorative ceilings, lime plaster walls, ceramic tiling, timber panelling, stained glass, terrazzo floors, cast iron balustrades and the timber handrail of the central staircase all being restored.
Externally, existing shop fronts will be repaired and altered where necessary to meet modern access requirements.
Who is paying for the work?
The project is the centre-piece of the Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative, a programme jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the council, which is contributing a grant of around £1.7 million towards the £2.9 million cost of the works.
What is the college going to do with the building?
The council’s works are due to be finished shortly when the property will be transferred on a 125-year lease to Kirklees College. The College will then fit out the interior, construct a lift and stair tower, and landscape the land to the rear. 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.
The Pioneer Centre will be part of Dewsbury Learning Quarter, together with the new Springfield Centre currently being built by the College and due to open in September 2018.
Why is this a good thing for Dewsbury?
Cllr 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”.
Cabinet colleague Cllr Naheed Mather added “The relocation of the college will bring students in to the heart of the town, bringing a boost to town centre businesses and adding to the vibrancy of Dewsbury”.
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.”