Almost £3 million worth of work is well under way to revitalise a historic building to play a role in the area’s future as part of Kirklees College.
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 - although the outside looks relatively untouched, a great deal of work is underway inside to prepare the building for its new tenants.
Work to repair and restore historic features in Pioneer House, which is a Listed Building, is being carried out for the property’s owners Kirklees Council.
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.
Pioneer House’s large basement being damp-proofed, and new drainage being installed. The project has been designed by Leeds-based conservation architects Farrell and Clark and structural engineers Mason Clark Associates.
Repair and restoration works are being undertaken by specialist contractor Heritage Building and Conservation Ltd, and 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.
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 around £1.7 million towards the £2.9 million cost of the works.
The council’s works finish soon and the property will be transferred on a 125-year lease to Kirklees College. The Pioneer Centre will be part of Dewsbury Learning Quarter, together with the Springfield Centre being built by the college and due to open in September 2018.