AN institution that was both literally and figuratively at the centre of Darwen for more than 100 years has been celebrated at an exhibition at the town’s library.

The Tech, as hundreds of students knew the imposing building on Knott Street, closed as an educational institution for the final time 25 years ago this month.

The exhibition covered the period 1945 to 1972 and featured class photographs and images of daily school life over the years.

Andrew Rigby who put the exhibition together said: “The Tech was a real focal point in the town. When you think of how many students must have passed through its doors over the years, it has had a real impact on life in Darwen.”

Former teacher Andrew worked on a previous exhibition to mark the centenary of the Tech along with Howard Peters who taught at the school for many years and wrote a book about his time there.

When it opened 125 years ago, it was the most expensive building in Darwen at the time, costing £14,000.

The town’s MP Charles Huntington donated £1,000 towards the building costs and funding also came from the Government who had pledged to improve technical education and used money which had been derived from taxing whisky.

Built on three levels, what became the Tech building initially housed a higher grade school, the town’s library and the education offices.

“Some people see the word ‘arte’ inscribed in the stonework above the entrance and think that it was an art school,” said Andrew. “But it’s more likely it referred to the art of manufacturing as so many different skills were taught there over the years. Hundreds of apprentices passed through those doors.

Howard Peters’ book is available from both the library and Darwen Heritage Centre, with all proceeds going to support both organisations.