Pioneer House Co-Operative – Dewsbury

The Pioneer Building

In 1863, twenty years after the Rochdale Pioneers opened their co-operative, the North of England Co-operative Society was launched by 300 individual co-ops across Yorkshire and Lancashire. By 1872, it had become known as the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS).

Northgates Pioneer building was originally built to house the Dewsbury Co-op society, then known as the Pioneer Industrial Society. The hall seated over 1000 people, and later became the Pioneer Theatre and then the Pot Black snooker hall.

The impressive building was designed by Holtom and Fox architects, and built in 1872.

Henry Holtom was a prolific architect. Born in Stratford in the 1840s, he moved to Dewsbury in his early 20s. He became a member of Dewsbury town council, serving All Saints’ ward for three years in 1871, and in 1883 he was elected mayor.

During the 1880s his apprentice George Fox was made partner, and together the pair designed Dewsbury town hall, which was completed in 1889 . As well as the Pioneer building and the town hall, Henry designed churches, schools and houses, and he also designed Machells Shoddy and Mungo mills, Foundry Street, which was built in 1863. It has now been converted into flats and shops. Henry died in 1901.

Co-op building to get multi-million pound refit


Dewsbury’s former Co-op building is earmarked to become part of a new town campus for Kirklees College.

Pioneer House, on Northgate, is in line to receive £2.9 million as part of a long-term regeneration programme promoting transformational change. Councillors are expected to approve the spending next Tuesday.

The revival of the iconic building is the first major scheme in the North Kirklees Growth Zone (NKGZ). It will become a centre for higher-level skills, apprenticeships and post-19 studies, specialising in creative and digital media and art, healthcare, business and finance. Building work is scheduled to begin next month.

The redevelopment of Pioneer House is the “critical project” of the Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), a £3.7m regeneration programme jointly funded by Kirklees Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).