Creative youngsters have produced their own vision for the future of Darlington Victorian Market as part of a design competition run by Wharton Construction in conjunction with Market Asset Management (MAM).

The family-run firm, which is lead contractor on the first phase of the transformation of the landmark building, invited pupils from the town’s Skerne Park Academy to draw and model their own architectural masterpieces.

Using every medium from paint to biscuits, Lego to recycled cereal boxes, they came up with their own unique ideas on how the historic building could be adapted – including a shop selling spiders, an external water slide and the clock tower being used for abseiling.

The overall winner was Year 6 student Vincent Murphy, whose work was selected by a panel of judges that included Matthew Wharton, a director of Darlington-based Wharton Construction, Rowena Wallace, the firm’s business development consultant, and Caitlin Barratt, heritage learning and engagement officer at Darlington Hippodrome.

The 10-year-old’s creativity and attention to detail earned him a family ticket, worth around £100, to Darlington Hippodrome’s Christmas pantomime, Cinderella.

The runners-up, which included entries from individuals, groups, and classes, are: Nursery: Lola; Year 1: Class 1U; Year 2: Kendall; Pathways: Tyler; Year 3: Alicja; Year 4: Mia; Year 5: Logan, Tyler, Charlie, and Thomas.

The competition was turned into a school-wide project designed to encourage students to learn more about their town, its history and heritage as well as developing STEM skills.

Matthew Wharton said: “It was very apparent that every single pupil taking part put a great deal of thought, effort and imagination into their work which resulted in a high standard of entries.”

Teacher Laura Brown, who organised the project within the school and co-ordinated pupils’ entries, said: “All our children really enjoyed taking part and we used the competition as an opportunity to combine creativity with learning – and they came up with some great ideas!”

Caitlin Barratt said: “Congratulations to Vincent for an outstanding entry and we hope both he and his family will enjoy the free tickets to Darlington Hippodrome’s Christmas pantomime, Cinderella.”

Wharton Construction was appointed lead contractor for the first phase of the indoor market project which is a partnership between by (MAM) and the building’s owners, Darlington Borough Council.

Phase one includes installation of an eco-friendly biomass boiler, an enhanced entrance, and additional public toilets. A third of the current retail area will be repurposed to create a street food area, bar, and events stage. Later phases involve opening up the vaults to create a space for restaurants and bars and a Temperate Garden, a greenery-filled glass structure where visitors can eat, drink, and relax.