A CELEBRITY historian returned to his roots to re-open Kendal’s oldest building which dates back to the 14th century.

TV personality David Starkey officially unveiled the new-look Castle Dairy, in Wildman Street, following an extensive £200,000 refurbishment.

Having been boarded up for more than five years, Kendal College has taken over the reins of the Grade I historic building and, with the help of English Heritage, Kendal Town Council and South Lakeland District Council, will now run it as a restaurant and art gallery.

The project has restored and refurbished the interior of the Castle Dairy to accommodate a gallery area and a new commercial kitchen featuring food cooked by college students.

Mr Starkey, who grew up in Kendal, said he had enjoyed returning to the town.

”I used to walk past here everyday as a young boy with my mother doing her shopping,” said Mr Starkey.

“I have been reminiscing about which shop was which back then in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a very different world.

“I think it looks terrific. They have not over modernised.

"The restoration is sensible and respectful. You want it to be minimal but I very much approve of the fact that the building is going to be used.”

Mr Starkey was joined by the leader of SLDC, Coun Brendan Jameson and Kendal College Principal Graham Wilkinson.

They all cut a cake made specially for the event by catering students from the college.

Elaine Wright, who ran the building as a restaurant for 38 years, was also at the ceremony.

“I think the work they have done is very good and it still has its character,” she said.

Coun Jameson said: “It is fantastic that under such economic and difficult times we have been able to re-open the oldest inhabited building in Kendal.”

College Principal, Graham Wilkinson said: “Standing on this ground two years ago was an old warehouse and since then a designated brown field site has been transformed and is now home to this futuristic building, which in my view blends beautifully with all of the surrounding buildings.”

As owners of the building, SLDC invested £120,000 into the development with further financial support from English Heritage who allocated a grant of £30,527.

The Savoy Educational Trust, Lakeland Vintners and Kendal College provided a further £65,000 to fund equipment plus fixtures and fittings for the new restaurant and kitchen.