Newsletter: Break-in at the Heritage Centre

Stonemasons Huts

Can you imagine our distress and disappointment when we arrived on Thursday 10th September to discover that the Stonemason’s huts had been broken into?

The padlocks had been ripped off the doors and a crow-bar used to break through the roller shutter doors behind. Two of the huts are used to store our power tools, which are used to maintain the site and work on the railway. The third hut is home to Firley our “Stonemason”. Poor Firley had his wiring disconnected: it appears that the miscreants weren’t in the mood to be educated about the life of a Stonemason!

Damage to roller shutter doorsFrom the huts they took:-

  • Pressure Washer
  • Rail Disc cutter
  • Petrol Strimmers (x3)
  • Long Hedge trimmers (x2)
  • Hedge trimmer
  • Petrol blower
  • Lawn Mower
  • New Field Mower
  • Electric chainsaws (x2)

There was also extensive and expensive damage to the locks and the roller shutter doors.

We are in negotiation with our insurers. However, we cannot recoup the costs of items that were donated, and they may only pay the second hand value of used items and not their replacement costs. In total this amounts to a loss of between £5,000 and £7,000.

The getaway vanIf you are local you may be able to help find the culprits. Our CCTV shows a light coloured transit van pulling up outside the Nunckley Trail disabled access gate at around 10:35 pm. It was only there for about 8 minutes so we are guessing this was a reconnoitre. They then returned just before midnight. We are looking for CCTV footage from anyone living on Halstead Road, Willow Grove or Walton Way. We know that Halstead Road was their route to and from the Heritage Centre and that they parked on Willow Grove whilst they waited to see if they had triggered any alarm systems.

We are overwhelmed by the generous messages of support at this difficult time, both on social media and in person by so many of our visitors. In a few days we have gone from wondering why we bother to realising exactly why we bother. Our Facebook page carried news of the theft and, by Sunday 13th September, this had been viewed over 50,000 times and both BBC and ITV local TV news had run stories about the break-in. One of our regular visitors has kindly set up a Just Giving Page to raise funds to allow us to purchase some of the more urgent items. This appeal has already raised almost £2000!

This has been a major set-back, but we will pick ourselves up and do our best to get back on our feet as soon as possible.

Thank you all.