The Mayor of Kirklees, Cllr Nigel Patrick officially marked the completion of the restoration of Pioneer House as part of the Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) project which was centred around the landmark building.
The building work was completed in November 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the college had been unable to celebrate the opening with stakeholders and the local community until October 2021.
The initiative is a five-year National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) regeneration programme delivered in partnership with Kirklees Council. The scheme covers a defined area of the Northgate part of Dewsbury Town Centre to aid restoration, bring buildings back to life and raise awareness of Dewsbury’s heritage.
The investment of over £7 million in the new Pioneer Higher Skills Centre will encourage business and help boost the economy and profile of the town, making the local area a better place to live, work or visit.
The physical restoration promoted the use of local services, labour and products throughout the delivery of the programme, further strengthening skills and employment in the area. Community involvement also helped raise awareness of Dewsbury’s wonderful architecture, most notably the national annual Heritage Open Days and the Dewsbury Bee Line Trail: from Dewsbury Minster to Pioneer House.
It is the legacy of these buildings such as Pioneer House, built by the industrial pioneers’ society and opened in 1880, which lies in the heart of the THI project. The local people of Dewsbury have witnessed the building evolve over the years from a ball room and snooker hall to Roberto’s restaurant and the new Pioneer Higher Skills Centre aims to celebrate the building’s legacy, whilst providing a modern facility that can benefit the wider community for years to come.
Throughout the programme the Dewsbury History Group have offered valuable knowledge and input, which culminated in the creation of the Pioneer House Timeline as commissioned by the THI and is now on public display in the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre café.
David Renwick, Director, England, North, at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“Investment like this goes well beyond the bricks and mortar of any building. Townscape Heritage Initiative schemes can really help turn local economies around, not only by improving how towns look and feel, but by creating new jobs and training opportunities and encouraging visitors.
Kirklees Council has put together an impressive project in Dewsbury which has benefitted many. It’s wonderful to see Pioneer House completed and brought back to live as the new Pioneer Higher Skills Centre, and we are delighted that it is our Townscape Heritage Initiative that has driven forward this significant transformation for Dewsbury.”
For more information about the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre, please visit www.kirkleescollege.ac.uk/pioneer-higher-skills-centre.