AN HISTORIC timber framed barn in the grounds of Avoncroft Museum was destroyed in a suspected arson attack last night.
Fire crews rushed to the museum at 9.10pm but the barn, used for school trips and courses to teach the traditional wattle and daub building technique, could not be saved in time.
The incident is being treated as arson by police and officera have urged anyone with information to come forward.
Staff said the arsonists entered the site illegally and, after gathering combustible materials, deliberately set fire to the modern timber frame building.
Residents and visitors to the popular museum have also condemned the attack.
Zoe Willems, Avoncroft Museum’s director, said: “It’s a completely pointless, mindless and criminal act.
“We are all working so hard to preserve the heritage that we know means so much to so many local people.
“It’s distressing to be targeted by people who just want to cause harm and destruction.”
But she vowed the venue would bounce back.
“Once again, Avoncroft Museum will show its resilience.
“While the timber frame will be cordoned off until it is made safe, the rest of the museum will be open as usual all weekend from 10am to 4pm.”
The museum has said it would find another building on the site for school trips and courses. Staff added they preferred to focus their energy on ‘bringing working heritage to life rather than clearing up after numbskulls’.
Ways people can help
Zoe said Avoncroft would be working closely with the police and fire service to do all it could to keep the site secure against trespassers.
And she added there were three key ways people could help the museum.
- Visit the museum, bring family and friends. “Every visitor we have helps us bring in essential income to help us preserve what we’ve got and deal with the unexpected.”
- Become a member and visit free throughout the year (there are discounts for members on event days).
- Donate – and gift aid the donation if you can. Avoncroft is a charity and can claim back 25p in tax for every £1 it receives.
Click here for more on the museum.
Hooded people on e-scooters
On arrival, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service reported seeing three hooded people dressed in black on e-scooters in the area.
Police were called and chased off those responsible before they could do anymore damage. Officers are now working to track the culprits down.
West Mercia Police officers are reviewing CCTV footage from the time of the incident as part of the investigation.
Insp Rich Field, Bromsgrove Safer Neighbourhood team said: “Fortunately no one was injured during the incident, we are appealing for anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident to please get in touch with us.
“We are also asking for people to check their dashcam footage from the area to see if they captured anyone leaving museum.”
The fire was extinguished but the thatched roof has been completely destroyed.
Anyone with any information that may help is asked to contact PC Connor Scott by email: [email protected] or phone: 07870 160860.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The Standard says….
Those responsible for this fire and the destruction caused are the lowest of the low.
Avoncroft Museum is one of the main jewels in the Bromsgrove crown and does nothing but good – either through preserving important historical buildings gleaned from all over the Midlands or educating people on our proud heritage.
This is particularly disappointing as the museum has only recently got back on its feet after the last vandal attack two years ago where windows were smashed at several buildings.
Avoncroft is much-loved and the response to the crowdfunding campaign last time was nothing short of overwhelming.
These mindless and heartless actions have benefited no-one and the police must now bring them to justice to feel the full force of the law and courts.