A LANDMARK Wirral building is undergoing further restoration to revive its 140-year old sandstone statues.
The former Birkenhead School of Art which overlooks Birkenhead Park is now the John Laird Centre.
It is now owned by The British East India Company Limited (TBEICL) as the headquarters for its international trade operations.
Constructed in 1871 the building has a rich history, being commissioned by John Laird as Britain’s first purpose-built college for art and science.
But after the college closed in 1979 it was left derelict and became a target for vandals.
Director of TBEICL Captain Bill MacDonald rescued the building in 1993 and spent £300,000 to restore and bring it back into use.
Also housed in the building is a solicitor, accountancy practice and a computer programming firm as tenants.
Now, a further £20,000 has been spent on repairing the statues and giving the exterior a facelift.
The 69-year-old former sailor is delighted to have saved the building from further decay.
He said: “I love this building and felt it was disgraceful that it was left derelict for 13 years. It was in such a terrible state, vandals had set fire to the staircase, the basement had one metre of water in it and there were holes in the roof. It has survived two world wars.
“Now we are giving her another huge facelift – we have decorated the interior, currently repairing the statues and architrave.
“Former students of the art college come to have a look around and are pleased it is still standing and in good use.
‘‘I am pleased to have taken over it from a fellow Scot, John Laird, the building is my pride and joy.”
‘Captain Bill’ who once captained the Seawise Giant – a supertanker and the longest ship ever built, re-registered the name The British East India Company in 2004, after it was dissolved.
The entrepreneur added: “Wirral Council had knocked down the hospital that John Laird had built to make way for houses, so I was determined that this building would not suffer the same fate.”