SECURITY at historic Newstead Abbey has been criticised following the thefts of distinctive and irreplaceable lead work.
Thieves struck on two nights in one week and stole lead downpipe along with the square brackets holding the lead in place.
Now the down pipes have been replaced with temporary plastic equivalents.
And last week £2,000-worth of lead was taken from the abbey’s roof.
Ken Purslow, chairman of Newstead Abbey Byron Society, said the thieves had found an easy target.
“These thieves must have been laughing all the way to the scrapyard. The abbey is isolated, it’s very dark up there at night,” he said.
They came prepared and knew exactly what they were doing - you would need at least two people to handle the lead pipes and a vehicle to take it all away.”
And Mr Purslow said there would be worse to come now thieves realised the valuable materials had little protection.
“My real fear is that someone throws a brick through a window, gets no response and goes inside and has their pick,” he said.
“This is one of the premier tourist attractions in the country but unless the city council is willing to put further security measures in place, potentially there is going to be nothing left for visitors to see.”
Now site bosses are desperately seeking the lead’s return and are appealing for folk to keep their eyes peeled for the stolen material.
Ron Inglis, Nottingham City Council’s service manager for museums, said the council was working with scrap dealers and police to recover the lead.
“The lead bears distinctive symbols of hexagons and Stars of David, as well as lion heraldic emblems with axes. Each piece is fully documented,” he said.
“We are very saddened by this loss and the damage to an historic property of this nature. Unfortunately this is a problem that many stately homes and churches are facing around the country.
“The City Council takes the security of its historic buildings very seriously and a variety of security measures are in place at Newstead Abbey, including a caretaker on site at all times.
“All accessible lead has been removed from the Abbey since these thefts and temporary downpipes put in place to protect the building.
“We will consult with English Heritage about the most appropriate way to deal with this in the long term.
Nottinghamshire Police officers are reviewing CCTV footage and making enquiries in the surrounding area.”
Sgt Jimmy Rimmington said: “We would like to urge scrap metal dealers to be on the look out for any material being brought in to them with dubious origins, and report it to us immediately.
“A scrap metal merchant in Mansfield has already alerted us to some suspicious lead which was brought in to them. It has subsequently been identified as belonging to the Abbey.
“We are now making further enquiries into locating the perpetrators.”
The downpipe thefts took place on 28th November and 6th December.
Anyone with information should contact Ravenshead Police on 101.