Arrest after Spalding museum deliberately set on fire

Spalding Gentlemen’s Society had a lucky escape when an arson attack at its museum only caused minimal damage to the building and left its priceless artefacts unscathed.

Fire crews from Spalding were called to the Broad Street museum just before 2am on Thursday morning after a window had been smashed and a curtain set alight.

Police believe the offender lit cloths with a cigarette lighter and threw them through the window.

The blaze was put out by caretaker Graham Cupper, leaving damage to the curtain and windowsill and smoke in two rooms but no damage to its artefacts.

President Dr John Cleary said: “Mr Cupper did a very good job. He got to the fire and stopped it at the early stage before it got a grip.

“His prompt action really saved the day and we are very grateful to him.”

Mr Cupper said: “I only did my job but if I hadn’t been here it probably would have been much worse.”

The museum contains a range of rare items collected by members of the society, which was founded in 1710, including an oil painting of founder member Maurice Johnson as well as artefacts, such as pre-historic tools.

The building also contains a medallion, print and some Wedgwood items from Sir Isaac Newton, who was a member of the society in the early 18th century, as well as a bust of the famous scientist, which is on loan from Lincoln Cathedral.

Dr Cleary said: “In that part of the museum all of the objects are behind glass in cases so the smoke hasn’t damaged anything.

“We are very pleased that even though it was a dreadful event there is no great lasting impact.”

He said the society will look to step up security and also praised fire and rescue and police for their help.

A 21-year-old Spalding man was arrested and has been released on bail until January 19 pending further inquiries.

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