Students survey Pioneer House

A group of Kirklees College students have seen at first-hand some of the intensive repair work which has taken place at Pioneer House in Dewsbury town centre.

The group of first year plastering, decorating and bricklaying students who have limited experience of being on a working site visited the Pioneer building yesterday (Thurs).

Coun Cathy Scott, Kirklees’ lead cabinet member for investment and housing, said: “As site visits go, the scale of the challenge we have had to deal with here certainly offers them a more unique visit experience than more run-of-the-mill building sites.”

The students’ visit coincided with the completion of the first phase of repair works on the building, which have taken place over the last 12 months.

During that time contractors have been able to make the building structurally sound, safe and weatherproof. The building has been completely re-roofed, with many rotten roof timbers replaced.

All exterior stonework has been repaired, as have existing windows where this was possible, and replaced where not. Work will continue into May on the clocktower, which engineers were concerned was in a critical state after the former owner’s years of neglect.

Further work is still required on the tower’s interior timbers and domed roof, after which a brand new clock face and hands will be installed, although no working mechanism.

Speaking about the visit and future plans for Pioneer House, Coun Scott added: “I hope that the students will be able to appreciate the scale and complexity of the work which has been undertaken over the last 12 months and see the handiwork of a variety of crafts and tradesmen who have rendered the building safe and watertight.

“I think we can be proud of what we have achieved in preserving and protecting a valuable piece of our architectural heritage and central to that is the skilled work of those who have been on site.

“I hope seeing this work at first-hand inspires those starting out in their careers to work hard and reassures them that there are many workplace opportunities for those with practical skills.

“The repairs we have completed mean that the building can be more effectively marketed to prospective occupiers, who we will then work with to develop interior spaces to their own requirements.

“Negotiations with several interested parties are under way.”

The college students will be the last public visitors on site before work begins in April to remove the scaffolding which has encased the building. Interior work will start again as tenants are confirmed.

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