THE doors of two Hexham schools on the same site, finally, opened last September.

Students from Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School returned from their summer holiday to the existing high school site, which, following millions of pounds of investment, now houses new buildings and sports and leisure facilities for community use.

The middle school was previously on the town’s Wanless Lane.

Pupils and staff now benefit from large, contemporary classrooms, open learning spaces, spacious, fit-for-purpose dining areas and modern sports halls.

Northumberland County Council commissioned the works in early 2019 after securing additional funding from the Department for Education.

Now, more than £37m has been invested in the project, which has seen a 3G pitch, new six and two-court halls and separate external multi-use games areas.

Feeding off the iconic, Grade-II listed Hydro building, which has been fully refurbished, is the new middle school and high school buildings, forming a cloistered quadrant at the heart of the site, using reclaimed materials from the walled garden.

Although the two schools, operated by Hadrian Learning Trust, share a reception site and some specialist classroom facilities, the middle school pupils are largely segregated from the high school students.

The original school first opened in 1965, before it expanded to the Hydro building in 1976.

Queen Elizabeth High School has around 1,300 pupils, while Hexham Middle School has around 470.

When the site opened, executive head Graeme Atkins said: “Somebody said to me, ‘The community has finally got the school buildings it deserves’, and I think that’s right.

“It’s a nice learning environment for our students, and also a nice environment for our staff.”

The schools recently held tours of their new buildings and facilities for local residents and members of the wider community.