AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL investigation to discover the secrets of Sunnyhurst Wood has got the go ahead.

Darwen Local History Society has secured a £5,000 grant from the borough council to fund the archaeological assessment of the park's history by experts from Manchester University.

The findings will then be made into a book for publication.

Not much is known about the site near the park entrance, which was used as part of a Darwen's printing works more than a century ago.

It is thought that a drying house for paper was once on the site and that a nearby stream feeding into Dingle Lake powered the St Regis and Crown paper mills.

The university staff will set up two test pits in the hope of revealing clues about the area's domestic and industrial past.

And the society hopes the investigation will uncover some fascinating facts.

Society member, Dot Waring, who was behind the application for funding, said: "We want to thank Blakckburn with Darwen Council for the money to make this possible, and I firmly believe it will help the whole community.

"With the money we've been able to secure a deal with Manchester University which will be carrying out the assessment.

"It won't be an exclusive activity though, amateurs will be able to work with the experts and learn about techniques and the area."

The society has applied for more funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund so that community projects related to the invesitigation can take place.

Mrs Waring added: "We want to invite children from every school in the area, older people, even people who are excluded from normal society like young offenders and reforming drug addicts, down to the site to discover archaeology.

"Manchester University is one of the best for this type of work and in the past, it has let amateurs work with professionals which has seen former drug addicts going in for archaeological degrees.

"It's really is exciting. It's a learning experience for the youngest to the oldest."

The date for the assessment by the university to start has yet to be confirmed.

Steve Rigby, director of culture, leisure and sport for the council said: "We are delighted the Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood was successful in its bid for a grant. We wish members every success with their project and look forward to seeing the result in print."