Work has begun on the demolition of classroom blocks at Napier Boys High School in one of the biggest school building projects ever undertaken in Hawke's Bay.

A crew and heavy machinery from Hastings company Phoenix Demolition arrived on Monday and work began in earnest yesterday. It's the start of demolition of the Armour and Polson blocks in a project first announced in 2014 and expected by then long-time principal Ross Brown to cost about $8.5 million.

A small crew worked between Christmas and New Year's days to remove asbestos ahead of the demolition job.

The cost of the project in three stages expected to take two-and-a-half years and replacing a third of the school, is now expected to run over $10m, said current principal Matt Bertram.

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The replacement buildings will enable Hawke's Bay's biggest school to bring all its science facilities together in one block of state of the art teaching spaces. The English faculty will also move into new flexible teaching spaces on the site of Armour Block, which will retain the name.

The Polson Block will incorporate new information and communication technologies facilities, larger music teaching space and practice rooms, bigger food and retail service facilities, and a Year 13 common room.

With a history dating back to 1872 the school maintains a role around 1200 and has about 55 classrooms.