Work set to start on restoration of Blackburn College’s Victoria Building

Victoria Building

Work is set to commence on a multimillion-pound restoration of Blackburn College’s Victoria Building.

College principal and chief executive, Dr Fazal Dad, handed over the keys to the historic site to BAM Construction ahead of work getting under way.

The college unveiled exciting plans for the Victoria Building in summer 2023, which will see it become part of the Blackburn Learning Quarter for adult learning – including Skills for Work and ESOL – and community activities in the heart of the town.

The 135-year-old, Grade II-listed building and its distinctive features will externally be restored to their former glory, while the inside will be completely renovated to blend old with new.

This includes reinstating some of the original floor plans to create spacious classrooms and meeting areas, and a restoration of the beautiful wood-panelled Headmaster’s Office on the ground floor which will be available for hire.

The entire top floor of the building will be transformed into a live performance, exhibition and creative space for both student and community events.

The flagship project, funded by the Department for Education’s (DfE) Further Education Capital Transformation Fund, is one of the largest schemes of its kind in the UK and is a central feature of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Blackburn Town Centre Master Plan.

Dr Dad, together with senior leaders from the college, welcomed BAM and other key project stakeholders, including the Mayor of Blackburn, Cllr Parwaiz Akhtar, to a ceremony at the Scholars restaurant on January 24, to explain more about the project and officially hand over keys to Mick Donoghue, Construction Manager at BAM Construction UK and Ireland.

Dr Dad said: “The Victoria Building is a much loved and recognised landmark. It’s weaved into our town’s history, a symbol of Blackburn’s proud industrial heritage. This ambitious project will create a new life for the building as a beacon of our dynamic economic, cultural and inclusive future as the town undergoes its own transformative investment.

“It is with great pleasure that I hand over the keys to the Victoria Building to BAM Construction for work to begin.”

He added: “Once complete, the new Victoria Building will not only provide a high quality and exceptional learning environment for all our students, but it will also be a community asset for all of the borough’s diverse communities.”

John Phillips. Regional Director of BAM Construction, saidd: “The work on the Victoria Building represents an interesting challenge for BAM UK&I. This beautiful, Grade II-listed building requires intricate and delicate work to ensure the fabric of the college remains undamaged.

“The building will be completely covered in scaffolding and a canopy that allows the work to remain protected from the elements, whilst we restore this eye-catching structure to its former glory. Most importantly, we’ll make possible a superb upgrade that will serve the staff, students and local community for generations to come.”

BAM Construction will be working closely with DfE Technical Advisors, Mott MacDonald. Blackburn-based Darwen Terracotta and Faience, one of the world’s leading terracotta conservators, has also been commissioned to restore many of the elaborate carvings on the building’s façade.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon, said: “I want to build a skills nation and our brilliant colleges are at the forefront of that, providing the best education for students no matter where they live.

“Local people will have access to high quality facilities and learning environments, to gain the skills they need to climb the ladder of opportunity into further study and work, whilst supporting efforts to grow the economy.”

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