Stolen Redbourn milestones are recovered thanks to community effort

PUBLISHED: 18:00 23 April 2015

Sgt Tom Fisher, historian Sandy Ross, Richard Behr, Bob Fiddaman, rev Lucy Davies, Ian Wooding Jones

Sgt Tom Fisher, historian Sandy Ross, Richard Behr, Bob Fiddaman, rev Lucy Davies, Ian Wooding Jones

Archant

A tale of community cohesion, the power of social media and sheer good luck has emerged from the sudden discovery of two stolen historic milestones.

Just last week, the Herts Advertiser publicised the theft of an “extremely heavy” 18th century milestone from a roadside location near a country pub in Redbourn – the second to disappear in three years.

Yet last Friday, thrilled local resident Kirstine Cox called the paper, despite holidaying in France, to say both stones had been discovered.

The first stone, 5ft 8ins in height, was stolen in 2012 from the A5183, close to the Punch Bowl Lane turning off Redbourn Road.

Sergeant Tom Fisher, investigating, said it had been found in Hemel Hempstead on Friday morning.

A few hours later, about six miles away in Barnes Lane, Kings Langley, a milestone stolen opposite the Chequers Inn between March 15-27 this year was also found.

Rev Lucy Davis, St Mary’s church in Redbourn, said news - and subsequent police appeal for the recovery - of the stolen markers had been shared on Facebook pages set up for local villagers past and present.

The curate said: “These are massive stones; I don’t understand why anyone would take them. It’s really bizarre. They are part of the community.”

She added: “I got a phone call to say that someone in Hemel Hempstead, who works in Redbourn, had a knock on the door by a dog walker who had seen information about the stolen stones, and that they had stumbled upon a marker in the lay-by in Dodds Lane.”

A phone call was put through to Ian Wooding Jones, owner of Redbourn Auto Solutions, to see whether he could retrieve the precious piece of heritage.

He said: “I headed out to Hemel and the police were there already – the milestone was too big for me to do anything about so the police organised a local farmer to help out.

“The recovery came about because of the community banding together and the Facebook campaign.”

Kirstine said: “It shows what a wonderful community we have in Redbourn; I’m so pleased, it really made my day.”

The stones are now in safekeeping on a local property.

Sgt Fisher said: “I am grateful to those who have played a vital role in recovering them.

“I would like to make further appeals, however, to members of the public who may have been in the areas where these two milestones were found overnight Thursday, April 16 into Friday, April 17 and saw anything suspicious. Both of the milestones are extremely heavy and would have needed a vehicle to move and a number of people or equipment to lift them.”

Attempts were also made in March to steal another milestone, located opposite the Herts County Showground, where offenders tied something around the marker and tried to pull it from the ground where it was embedded.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt Fisher via the police non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers, the independent charity, on 0800 555 111.

Redbourn resident and amateur transport historian Sandy Ross added: “This is a happy outcome for our local heritage, and many thanks to all those who helped in this exercise.

“I will now discuss the milestones’ future with Herts county council, which remains their legal owner, despite their apparent lack of interest in their welfare.”

A spokesman for the council said it was not known as yet when the markers would be returned to their roadside settings.


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