The Derbyshire Times has been granted access inside an abandoned Chesterfield school which is set to undergo an exciting transformation.
Work to turn the run-down St Helena’s Grammar School into the Chesterfield campus of the University of Derby is expected to begin in August.
The university will launch in the former girls’ school on Sheffield Road in summer 2016.
Students will be able to study engineering and nursing courses at the campus, building on the town’s industrial heritage and the university’s existing strong links with training at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
New jobs are also expected to be created with the move.
St Helena’s opened in 1892 and taught 11 to 18-year-old girls.
We are desperate to breathe new life into itDr Peter Dewhurst, University of Derby strategic director
It closed in 1991 and Derbyshire County Council used the Grade II listed building as offices until late 2013.
Major refurbishment will be required to bring the 2.2 acre site up to standard.
There are currently many hazards, several areas of damp and lots of unpleasant smells inside the building.
Former student Fiona Stevenson, who accompanied the Derbyshire Times on the tour, said: “It brought back so many happy memories.”
Dr Peter Dewhurst, the university’s strategic director, said the historic site would be “sympathetically renovated”.
He added: “We are desperate to breathe new life into it.”
Hari Punchihewa, the university’s deputy chief executive and finance director, added: “This acquisition extends our options to be of service to Chesterfield and to help create jobs and bolster the higher education offer already in place in the town.
“The building is a wonderful structure which sits in a perfect location, being so close to town and the college.”