The new buildings include an engineering block with a
fully-functioning motor vehicle workshop at the college's Ashington
campus, arboriculture and tractor workshops and learning resource
centre at Kirkley Hall, which all feature the latest
Local employers were invited to take a tour of the college's new
facilities at both campuses, including the recently opened The
Graduate Hair and Beauty Salon and The Gallery Restaurant;
both commercially-run and open to the public. The college is also
in the process of building a STEM centre at Ashington, which will
open subject to planning approval in 2016/17 academic
Bill Smith, Lead Engineer of the Tyneside-based Bluebird
Project, officially opened the Brunel Building at Northumberland
College on Thursday 14 May.
Mr Smith, who is well known for his dedication in restoring the
original Bluebird craft, unveiled the new engineering block which
features an industry-standard motor vehicle workshop and electrical
workshops with real installation bays.
The Bluebird which is a jet-powered hydroplane, crashed in 1967,
killing then world record holder Donald Campbell who was trying to
beat the world water speed record at above 300mph (480km/h) on
Coniston Water, Cumbria. The team of volunteers recovered the
wreckage 15 years ago and have been working to restore it
The college donated a milling machine last year to the Bluebird
Project, which will allow students access to the rebuild, allowing
them the opportunity to gain hands-on skills in their
Before cutting the red ribbon, Bill said: "I'm honoured to have
been invited to open this wonderful facility today which will train
the next generation of engineers, who will build tomorrow's oil
rigs, satellites and bridges.
The young people that I have met today are so enthusiastic and
professional in learning their trade - it's such an important
investment into their future."
Kirkley Hall's new workshops and land-based learning
Business leaders were also invited to Kirkley Hall Campus near
Ponteland to view new arboriculture and tractor workshops, learning
resource centre and teaching block. Chris Moody OBE, Chief
Executive of Landex, officially unveiled the new land-based
educational facilities at Northumberland College's Kirkley
Mr Moody said: "When land-based colleges ask Landex where they
can see examples of outstanding improvement, we point them to
"The mix of education and commercial activities provides a
strong economic model and a great learning environment. It has been
a pleasure to open the new facilities today and the developments to
the campus since I last visited have been remarkable."
Landex was formed in 2006 and represents colleges and
universities that offer specialist land-based programmes.
Northumberland College's Kirkley Hall Campus holds full membership,
meaning that significant volumes of high quality further and higher
education are provided in at least six land-based occupational
areas, with appropriate physical resources to provide students with
on-site practical experience. The membership also reflects the
college's efforts to uphold strong ties with land-based
Marcus Clinton, Principal at Northumberland College, said: "We
would like to thank everyone for coming along to our launch events.
It has been a perfect opportunity for employers to see the
state-of-the-art facilities we have built at both campuses,
ensuring our students will train on the very best equipment in a
real industry environment. The investment paves the way for our
students to be highly employable across all vocational disciplines
that we offer at the college."
He added: "Kirkley Hall has gone from strength-to-strength since
I arrived five years ago. The latest investment reinforces the
opportunities we give to our students, to work in real commercial
environments, in addition to the excellent commercial facilities
that are already in place like the zoo.
"This reflects our dedication as a college to ensure the
curriculum's facilities are continually shaped to meet employers'
needs and get students into work."