THE Hartlepool Mail visited the £53m Hartlepool College of Further Education on the first day it welcomed new and returning students to its new state-of-the-art campus.
Walking through the doors of the flagship building, students and visitors find themselves in a huge space that houses the reception area, a food court and coffee bar open to the public.
The Stockton Street building is chic, sleek and modern, and features an array of artworks including paintings by Hartlepool artist Tom Wall, whose work hangs along the spacious ground floor walkway that leads to the college’s Flagship restaurant which is also open to the public and rivals any upmarket eaterie.
More art, including prints by Picasso and other greats, hang throughout the college along with a shining steel “Memory Tree” which is a collaboration with the Trades Union movement to commemorate those who have died in the workplace.
Getting down to business, students have access to state-of-the-art learning aids with suites of computers, electronic ‘blackboards’ in classrooms and the 220-seat lecture theatre, and cutting edge tools in the Skills Academy, which houses aircraft donated by 100 Squadron at RAF Leeming.
Students on sports-related courses have the use of hot and cold cryo spas, which are the envy of many a Premier League football team after similar ones were installed at big-spending Manchester City.
College bosses say they want the new building to become a community resource and are encouraging people to wander in for a coffee, enjoy a spa, get their hair done and have a bite to eat.
With such smart surroundings, they may well find themselves very busy indeed.