WORK to demolish the top two floors of an historic former Darwen cotton mill has begun.

Scaffolding has been erected around Hampden Mill in Grimshaw Street and contractors have started work on the site.

Pat Cashin, who is in charge of the demolition team, said: “We are taking the top two floors off and re-roofing it.

“It is beyond repair and has been leaning for a few years now.

“Once the partial demolition has been completed, it will be left as it is now.”

Lincoln Barrett, of Oliver Boreal Development, the company in charge of the demolition works, said: “The building is completely vacant since the companies all moved out last year.

“When we have finished work, the ground floor will be usable for the owners, Northern Parks Industrial, to let out units again or whatever they see fit.”

Whitehall councillor Karimeh Foster welcomed the demolition works. She said: “It is dangerous on the top floor and they need to make it look a bit more tidy.

“Safety is very important and I am pleased the owners have shown some responsibility in sorting it out. I am against destroying historic buildings as, if we destroy buildings from the past, then our children will never learn. So I am glad the building will remain as it is on the ground floor.”

The mill was built in the early 1860s by Mr J Leach and, in 1864, contained 186 looms. By 1884, owned by J and R Shorrock, it contained 462 looms and 220 people worked in the mill.

The Hampden Mill Company – the main shareholder of which was Samuel Lord – went into liquidation in 1935, two years after the mill closed.

The mill was reopened in 1946 by Hoddlesden’s Alexander Carus and Sons but finally closed in 1993.

It had most recently been used as rented units for firms such as equine laundry firm Mucky Mares.