A CONTROVERSIAL academic who was at the centre of a high profile smear scandal is coming to Edgworth to celebrate the centenary of a historic building.

Prize-winning poet Ruth Padel famously resigned after only nine days in the most senior academic poetry position in the country, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, when it emerged she had sent emails to journalists alerting them to allegations of sexual harassment made against her main rival.

But she remains one of Britain’s leading modern poets and has been invited to Edgworth to commemorate her family’s benefaction of The Barlow Institute, which was built by her great- grandfather 100 years ago.

North Turton Parish Council is planning a grand welcome for Miss Padel, who was nominated in a shortlist for poet laureate and is the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

Parish council chairman Cllr Steve Simpson said it would be a significant day for the people of Edgworth.

He said: “We can’t let the occasion go without a formal big style event.

“The Institute needs someone willing to spend money on it to get the place cleaned and spruced up.”

Cllr Daniel Wild joked that Miss Padel’s visit would be “the biggest thing since Gandhi”.

The Barlow Institute, the historic centrepiece of Edgworth, was given to the people of the village in 1909 by the Barlow family.

The gift included extensive recreation grounds surrounding the Institute, including a bowling green, a cricket pitch, an open air swimming pool, tennis courts, a football pitch, a maze, and a decorative woodland park and boating lake.

Miss Padel is the granddaughter of Sir Alan and Nora Barlow, and great-granddaughter of Sir Thomas Barlow, who officiated at the benefaction ceremony 100 years ago.

Miss Padel will be presented with a commemorative vase engraved with an image of the Barlow Institute when she visits Edgworth on October 31.

The parish council agreed to approach Blackburn with Darwen Council to see if bosses would be willing to fund a celebration event.

The parish council also plans to ask Miss Padel to write a short poem to mark the occasion.