WORK has begun on transforming an historic Darwen building into a new school after scaffolding went up.

The former Model Lodging House in Police Street is to become the new home of the £4.1million Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio.

The school, for children aged 14 to 19, opened in its own space at Darwen Academy last September.

But the school will relocate to its own independent building for the start of the next school year. The work is being carried out by Cardiff-based ISG after the project went out to tender, and the renovation firm has been on site now for a month.

Principal Ruth Bradbury said: “Now the work has really started and they are really cracking on with it.

“I am very excited. It will be great to have our own home. It has been great to have the space to start up here but we want to be able to grow in our own space.”

Mrs Bradbury said there were lots of benefits to the school getting its own building. She said: “We will be more central in the town which will be better for working with local businesses.

“We have done a really good job of creating our own ethos and culture within DACA but now we can grow and develop even more.”

Mrs Bradbury said it was also important to maintain the heritage of the new building, which opened in 1897.

She said: “We will be maintaining the architecture of what is one of the town’s most historic buildings and I think it is great it is being used so productively. We are hoping to have a display showing the history of the building.”

The school, which is separate from DACA but has the support of benefactor the Aldridge Foundation, will offer mainstream qualifications delivered through commercial business-based projects, and linked to the world of work.

Through links with businesses across East Lancashire, students will spend some of their time on work placements outside of the classroom.

When at capacity, it will cater for 300 students, and employ around 30 staff.

Places for years 10 and 12 are still available to start in September.