VIDEO: Thieves strike again at Morecambe theatre

Custodians of Morecambe’s grand old theatre are counting the cost after thieves struck yet again.

Volunteers working to restore the Winter Gardens were furious after culprits – believed to be four youths – got onto the roof and stripped off three to four metres of protective lead in the dead of night.

Evelyn Archer, chairman of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, on the roof where protective lead was stolen.

Evelyn Archer, chairman of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, on the roof where protective lead was stolen.

Police were examining CCTV hoping to identify the thieves.

The theft is a blow for the ongoing restoration work at the theatre – which this year celebrates its 120th birthday.

It happened some time between 1am and 2am on Friday, April 21 and was discovered the following Tuesday by volunteers.

Evelyn Archer, chairman of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, said: “It is frustrating.

“We’re working so hard, we’re raising money, we’ve just had new front gates put on and we’re really happy about that, and then this happens.

“It’s upsetting, one step forward and two steps back.

“We’re with a new insurance company and the trust didn’t want to start claiming so we’ve had to pay for it ourselves. It will cost thousands.

“We’ve just had a new fire alarm put in which cost us £22,000, the whole of the building is covered with security and fire alarms, then they come and take the lead off the roof.

“We had to have it repaired because if it had rained water would have got into the theatre.”

More than £10,000 worth of damage was caused to the theatre in 2011 after thieves stole protective lead from the roof, causing leaks.

A man was later fined for storing half a tonne of lead stolen from the theatre at his home.

Then in 2014, thieves stripped lead from the roof again, causing around £2,000 worth of damage.

The theatre was also broken into earlier this year.

Burglars forced their way in to the Winter Gardens in January and stole around £600 in cash.

Last month new front gates were fitted at the theatre. Improvements have also been made to dressing rooms and a new bar/entertainment venue has also opened this year.

Money for the restoration work comes from public donations.

The Gardens has been closed as a full-time entertainment venue since 1977 but now runs a regular programme of events and opens to the public for tours on Sundays.

If you have any information which could help police with their investigation please call 101 or freephone Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.