Developers opeed the door to Arthur Scargill’s former base in Sheffield city centre just before launching a £5 million refit to create restaurants and offices.
Inside the smoked glass and sandstone building, internal fittings and furnishings have been ripped out.
But the sculpture – technically a frieze – remains in place, a symbol of the power and wealth of the National Union of Mineworkers in its heyday.
Matthew Stephens, of Barnsley-based developers Quest Property, said it was made in Florence and transported to Sheffield in two parts. The plan was to leave it in place, partly due to its size and weight, he added.
Mr Scargill’s office on the top floor is no longer there, but a tiled floor area adjacent, in a corner of the building, marks his ‘look-out’. It has impressive views over Barkers Pool, the City Hall and Sheffield town hall.
It also had a coal-fired boiler and developers found a bunker full of coal when they took the building on six years ago, Mr Stephens added: “I can’t think of another building in such a prime place that has stood empty for this long anywhere in the North.
“We are creating a new chapter for it. People are interested, they’re always walking past saying, ‘what’s happening?’
“It has been an eyesore for all these years and it’s the most challenging project we as a company have dealt with. But we stick at things.”
Built between 1986 and 1988, it was designed by architect Malcolm Lister with a prominent central section inspired by a pit head. The union occupied the building for less than four years before relocating to its current headquarters in Barnsley.
A host of redevelopment schemes were put forward over the years, a bid to have it listed also failed.
Quest, which signed a long lease, originally hoped to reopen it as a casino.
Now it is set to feature three restaurants including a Pitcher and Piano. The two floors above will become Grade ‘A’ offices. It is set to open next year.
Sheffield City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership helped fund the scheme.