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Fury over lamps stolen from popular heritage rail site

HERITAGE Railway volunteers are ‘dumped’ after thieves cut and stole three Victorian-style station lamps.

Looters used an angle grinder to remove the heavy metal poles from their anchors at the Blaenavon Heritage Railway high-level halt, fearing they would be sold for scrap or as garden ornaments.

Station master Huw Morgan said: “Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway is a charity run solely by volunteers, so this is a big blow.

“We’re trying to make things better for our passengers and the community, and then someone’s going to do something like this – just to make their own homes and gardens look better, or to make a quick buck from the efforts of our volunteers.

“I am completely disgusted.”

As the railway was due to reopen in April after its winter break, he said volunteers were “angry” over the thefts. ·

A spokesperson wrote: “We are deeply disappointed to report that the lampposts at Blaenavon High Level station have been stolen.

“The theft, which is a major blow to our dedicated volunteers, took place between 4pm on Sunday 6th February and 10am on Tuesday 8th February with the thieves forcing entry into adjacent land to gain access.

“Installed in 2020 to improve the mood for both our visitors and the local community, the theft has caused a huge upheaval to the team who work so hard to develop our little railway.

“We have reported the incident to the police and urge anyone with information to come forward.

“The poles will be a tough sell, and all their theft has left our dedicated volunteers with the cost and task of replacing them.”

Given the weight of the streetlights, it is likely that several people and a van or flatbed truck were involved in the theft.

A Gwent Police spokesman said: “We have received a report that three decorative street lamps were taken from Varteg Road in Varteg by an unknown person at some time between 4pm on Sunday 6th February and 9am on Tuesday, February 8.”

“Anyone with information, including CCTV or dash cam footage, can call 101 or send us a direct message on social media, quoting log reference 2200044977.

“Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 with details.”

Books on the Line, a book review blog for publications on the history of railways in South East Wales, posted: “What a dreadful thing to do!

“After all the setbacks the railway has suffered due to Covid. The staff and volunteers work very hard to make the railroad such a great experience – a real honor for the region.

“I hope the pond that did this gets caught.”

An electrician who has installed similar lampposts added: “Unfortunately architectural theft is on the increase. Salvage programs currently on television are raising awareness of the value of these items.

“These cast iron streetlights are extremely heavy and would have taken a lot of time and effort to move them…at least four large adults to lift one onto a flatbed truck, and three or four such poles into a van l would have seen sitting on its axle and probably coming out of the rear doors still with the post tops.

“As an electrician…I installed these type of streetlights on another historic railway, they are extremely heavy.”

Dating back to 1866, the railway was reopened as a tourist attraction between Furnace Sidings and Whistle Inn Halt in 1983, and extended south to the site of the former Blaenavon High Level station in 2010.

Now volunteers have launched an appeal to raise funds to replace the streetlights. To donate, go to bhrailway.co.uk/product-page/make-a-donation.

The railway also announced the return of its transport rally on July 16 and 17. Anyone with a classic, unique or generally interesting vehicle who would like to participate can post a photo on their Facebook page or send photos/details to [email protected]