WORK has begun on a new £5.7million foundry and sports hub at Fort Vale Engineering’s Simonstone factory creating 30 jobs.

The world-leading valve designer and manufacturer announced the investment after laying the foundations on Calder Vale Park, before steelwork goes up next week.

The development will transfer the company’s 25-year-old foundry in Southfield Street, Nelson, and 25 staff to its main site.

The scheme is due to be completed in Autumn next year, the 50th anniversary of the firm’s founding in 1967 by Edward Fort in Nelson.

It moved to Simonstone in 2008 and has since invested £10million on a new office block, factory extension and research and development unit.

The investment was hailed as ‘wonderful news’ by East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mike Damms.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said it was ‘a vote of confidence’ in the area’s future.

The new £2.2million 25,150 square foot foundry will create 30 new jobs, increase efficiency and boost growth.

Currently the firm employs 360 staff at Simonstone.

The £3.5million Wilson Fort Sports Centre will include a fitness suite with weights area and exercise machines and an upstairs function suite,

The building, named after Mr Fort and co-owner Ian Wilson, will host a dance/aerobic studio, and courts for basketball, badminton, squash, tennis, hockey and football.

Managing director Mr Wilson said: “These are very exciting times for the company“This consolidates everything on one site and gives our foundry staff better, cleaner and healthier working conditions.”

“The sports and recreation centre is way of saying thank-you to our staff, our most important asset”

Mr Damms said: “This is wonderful news from a genuinely world-leading company.”

Mr Evans said: “This is great news and a vote of confidence in Ribble Valley by one of our most successful companies.”

Manchester architects Fletcher Rae planned the new developments which are being built by Burnley firm Dale Contractors Limited