ONE of St Helens' most iconic buildings has been brought back into use following a spectacular transformation.

The Beecham Building clock tower on Westfield Street is the former headquarters of the pharmaceutical giant.

The Star reported in 2019 as St Helens College sold the site - considered a prime heritage asset for the town - to the private developer, which sought to create a mixed-used development of apartments and commercial space.

Five years on, the building is welcoming tenants to stylish and spacious apartments after a multi-million pound transformation by Nicholson Group.

Without such investment there were concerns what the long-term use of the landmark would be.

The building dates to the 1880s and was the first factory in the world built specifically to produce medicine.

The building's original features remainThe building's original features remain (Image: Nicholson Group)

CEO of Nicholson Group, Paul Nicholson says his team has worked closely with St Helens Council, heritage groups and Rotary St Helens with "a collaborative focus firmly on heritage".

Nicholson said: “This magnificent Grade II listed building in Westfield Street in the town centre has now been rejuvenated by the group’s highly skilled and dedicated team after lying dormant enabling the Beecham’s Building to become a place in which to live and work.”

The existing building has been developed into a mixed-use scheme of 18 residential apartments (seven one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom), a ground floor commercial space and a partial retention of offices.

Inside one of the apartmentsInside one of the apartments (Image: Nicholson Group)

Plans also included an alteration to the site's vehicle access and minimal external alterations to facilitate the conversion.

'Modern twist'

Mr Nicholson continued: “The retention of offices now act as our HQ and concierge for our new residents with a unique opportunity for a discerning operator to occupy the commercial space.

"There were minimal external alterations, only external LED lighting to give a modern twist and bespoke replacement of all windows, which were made by hand on site by an artisan window craftsman, allowing for double and triple glazed units.

"Electric gates to create a gated residential community are to be installed shortly.”

(Image: Archives)

One of the building’s stunning features includes a clock designed by the building's architect H.V. Krolow in 1887.

The developer is working to restore the workings of the clock as part of the project’s renaissance with local historian and author 96-year-old Mary Presland set to play a part in the relaunch.

The scheme additionally incorporates a parking area to the rear of the building accommodating 17 cars, cycle and motorcycle spaces.

(Image: Nicholson Group)

On a recent visit, members of Rotary St Helens and local historians visited the historic building highlighting how its completion stressed the importance of preserving local heritage.

Rotary St Helens community heritage spokesman Paul Winstanley said: “The Beecham’s clock tower building on Westfield Street represents a transformative journey, transitioning from a historic pharmaceutical hub to a modern residential space.

"The Nicholson Group's dedication to preserving the building's essence reflects a harmonious blend of past and present.

"The clock tower building now stands as a beacon of St Helens' rich history, ready to embrace a vibrant future within the heart of the community.”

Building's transformation

Mr Nicholson added: “As the building is Grade II listed, we actively sought the advice of heritage experts to ensure we protected the fabric, characteristics, and features of both the exterior and interior of the building.

(Image: Archives)

“All materials chosen for the development have enabled its transformation to blend seamlessly with its surroundings whilst adding a refreshing and contemporary appearance.

"Internally, we used highly sustainable methods of construction including the use of local labour and building materials to assist e.g. the insulation of Beecham’s that far exceeds current building regulation standards.

“We designed the project in-house using ingenuity and a creative approach to ensure we didn't disturb the fabric of the building.

“For example, with thorough research we understood its original courtyard floor plan and utilised the original window openings to form hallways into the apartments.

"It was a difficult design concept as we had to cater for its original 1880s construction and account for the later adaptation by St Helens College in 2000.

“It was a real mixture of obstacles to overcome but we are delighted with the outcome. Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit it lately have been blown away by the results.

"We wanted this to be a real signature project and some of the apartments are nearing 2,000sqft, designed specifically for discerning professionals.”

The developer's work in St Helens now spans almost a decade. It delivered over 100 apartments across six individual projects.

It believes the "new standard of living" created with Beecham’s Building works in close harmony with the councils’ vision for regeneration.

Mr Nicholson added: “Our passion for making a difference, being community-driven and regeneration-focused, working in partnership with civic bodies is driving our momentum in the town.

"We’ve spent considerable time over the last 10 years immersing ourselves in the regeneration conversation of St Helens.

"Our commitment to the town is reinforced by the fact we have secured further projects in the town.”