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The Mountsorrel Railway is part of the Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre. This website is no longer updated. For updates see:

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Bond Lane bridge restoration hit by stone theft

We are unhappy to report that our volunteer work to restore the Bond Lane bridge has been hampered because of the theft of some of the bridge stones. The bridge is at the end of the section of the Mountsorrel Railway being restored.

The end section of the bridge wall was collapsing (see previous news update). Volunteers had numbered and labelled key stones so they could be cleaned and replaced in their original positions as the wall was rebuilt. Our aim was to maintain the original appearance of the wall almost exactly how it would have been when originally constructed.

The wall was carefully disassembled with hammers and chisels, and each stone carefully cleaned, before being stored nearby ready for reconstruction to commence. What makes the stones so special is that they were all hand dressed at the quarry over a hundred years ago. Finding new hand dressed stone is very difficult today: you can only normally find rough blasted stone which is not in keeping with the original look of the bridge. So you can see it was imperative to preserve all of the original stones.

Despite being stored in what we hoped would be a safe location, we were extremely disappointed to find that a significant number of the stones had been stolen. This included almost half the carefully numbered stones, making it impossible to rebuild the wall exactly how it would have been. Our volunteers were devastated by this, which we believe was most likely carried out by one or more local people. When you give your time freely to try to bring a useful and beneficial resource to the local community it is disappointing to see your efforts undone in this way.

Fortunately we discovered the theft early, before all the stones were taken. The person appeared to be returning each evening to take more stones, so luckily we were able to move the stones away for safe storage at one of our volunteer's houses. Not an easy task in itself as there were almost five tonnes of stones to move!

Not all is lost. The rebuilding of the bridge wall is a priority while we try to find suitable stones to replace the ones that were taken. The remaining stones are being returned to site for each work party and then removed again at the end of the day. This extra handling and transportation is hindering the bridge volunteers, but it has to be done.

The photo shows the bridge wall under reconstruction. The temporary fence in front is to protect members of the public from the works, and will be removed when the wall is completed.

On a brighter note we would like to say a special thanks to project sponsors Languard Vegetation Management of Husbands Bosworth, who have been back with us again to weedkill the trackbed base. Weed control over a mile and a quarter of railway would be a mammoth task to undertake ourselves, so we are immensely grateful to Languard for providing this work at no cost to the project. We would also like to thank Lafarge Ready Mix for donating the concrete pour for the new Bond Lane bridge wall foundations. Their support represents a significant saving for the project.

If your company might be able to help the project in any way please get in touch with Steve Cramp. We are always in need of many items both large and small for tasks that involve plant or other machinery. We would very much like to hear from you if you think you can help. Thank you.
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