Updated 4pm: Bronze plaques found under bush
BRONZE plaques stolen from a First World War memorial have been found hidden in a bush.
It was feared the items, inscribed with hundreds of names of railway workers who lost their lives in the conflict, would be sold for scrap.
But they were discovered at about 3pm today. Police say they will continue to investigate and find those responsible.
The thieves who stole the items had earlier been condemned as “despicable” and “disgusting”.
The are inscribed on metal sheets stolen from Derby’s Midland Railway War Memorial.
The memorial in Midland Road is Grade II-listed and was built in 1921.
It was designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the Cenotaph in London.
Gordon Bannister, chairman of Derby and District Ex-Services Association, said: “This theft is despicable.
“Anybody who buys them to melt them down should be ashamed. What has the world come to?”
Dennis Monk spotted the theft when he walked past yesterday morning.
The name of one of wife Frances’ relatives – Richard Gibson – is inscribed on one of the bronze plaques.
He died at the Battle of the Somme, in September 1916 and lived in Stockbrook Street, Derby.
Mr Monk, a retired engineer, said: “It is sacrilege.
“There are between 7,000 and 8,000 of names of men who lost their lives on it.
“Knowing this will probably be melted down for scrap metal is just disgusting.” Four plaques were originally reported stolen, but two were found behind a nearby hotel and have been placed in safe keeping.
Local historian Maxwell Craven said the stone memorial was one of Lutyens’ most important works and that the 5ft plaques would be very expensive to replace.
The memorial is inscribed: “To the brave men of the Midland Railway who gave their lives in the Great War.”
It is not known how much the memorial is worth but the UK Inventory of War Memorials said it was valued at £10,958 in 1920.
Mr Craven said: “It is very important to the area. The bronze plaques are very big, it’s amazing that nobody saw them being taken.”
The theft was reported to police yesterday morning but it is not known exactly when the plaques were taken.
Witnesses or anyone with information should call Derbyshire police on 0345 123 3333 or Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.
For more on this story see tomorrow’s Derby Telegraph.