CAMPAIGNERS were jubilant after work finally began on removing silt from the Sunnyhurst Wood paddling pool.

The Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood have battled for four years after being told silt could not be removed as it was ‘contaminated’.

But after proving otherwise and raising funds with the help of Darwen Town Council’s parks committee, work began on phase one of removing the silt on Tuesday.

Diggers got to work taking it out of the pond and putting it in mounds on the side where it will sit to dry out. Phase two will see the silt removed from the site altogether.

Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood chairman Dennis Gillibrand said: “The group is pleased to report that work has started on removing the silt from the Sunnyhurst Wood paddling pool after a delay of four years.

“The pool is one of the main features of this natural amenity.”

Sunnyhurst councillor Dave Smith said he was delighted.

He said: “It is good news, very pleasing.

“The silt has been a priority of the Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood for a long time.

“But they couldn’t find any grant funding to actually get the job done.

“At Darwen Town Council, we have prioritised parks and this year set up the parks committee, which provides funding of £50,000 to park groups over two years.”

The paddling pool was first proposed in March 1905 by Ellis Gibson, who wanted to build, at his own expense, a pond for paddling and sailing model boats.

It was built by Mr Gibson and his friends, Christopher Fish, Robert Preston and Joseph Pakeman Walmsley.

Their design included the stone bridges and artificial waterfalls at either end of the pool, all of which still exist.

For years, it was a popular spot for families, with children paddling in the shallow water.