RENOVATION works on an old grammar school are closer to beginning as a preservation trust prepares for its first visitors' open day of the year.

The Old Grammar School in Richmond dates back to 1850 but was closed more than a decade ago, which left the historic building empty and need of repair.

In 2007, the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust purchased the building and vowed to bring it back into public use.

But more than a decade later, and numerous efforts to fulfil a total fundraising target of £800,000, the trust has now been able to submit its final plans to Richmondshire District Council, in its efforts to convert the building into a community venue.

In September, the trust said it had raised £135,000 towards a goal of £550,000 in readiness for the second round of an application for a £1.8 million Heritage Lottery Grant.

But in its latest update, the trust said significant donations and pledges had boosted the amount of money raised, bringing the old school’s conversion closer to reality.

Next week, the Old Grammar School will open to the public and give visitors, and prospective donors, another chance view the building from inside.

A spokesperson from the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust said: “Fundraising continues to be a major part of the work that is been carried out.

“If full funding is received, once the school is restored there will be office and hot desking facilities at charity rates for community hire.”

The trust are planning the school will provide a community hall, cafe facilities with outside seating, function rooms, a banqueting hall and a hostel for tourists, residential courses and education groups.

The trust said commercial facilities would fund its community-based space.

The open day takes place on Saturday, March 30 between 10am and 4pm. Visitors will be admitted free of charge and no booking is required.