Safety increased after Gorse Hall thieves return

THE Friends of Gorse Hall are hoping extra safety measures will keep burglars at bay after the container holding their equipment was broken into for a second time in successive months.

After the latest incident the group has had an offer of help from Graham Holt, from Shifting Gear, Huddersfield Road, and The Forge, Waterloo Road.

Graham has provided a special lock box he had bought for one of his containers. He has also arranged for a local welder to attach it to the container which can be found off Quarry Rise, Stalybridge.

Friends’ chairman Alan Pickles is impressed with the type of lock they have been given.

He also hopes the thieves will think twice about trying to break in after seeing the new security measures.

Alan said: “It seems a regular occurrence that thieves carry out a robbery, then go back a few weeks later to try to steal any equipment that has been replaced from the original robbery.

“The thieves mustn’t have much sense if they think that a voluntary group can afford to replace the stolen tools immediately.

“It will be next year before any money might be available to replace some of the stolen items. All the group can do for the time being is replace the safety work wear so that winter restoration work can be carried out.”

In the first break-in, which was discovered when the group arrived for a working party on September 12, thousands of pounds of equipment was stolen including mowers and strimmers after thieves cut through the container’s metal security brackets.

The second break-in was broken into around October 9 when thieves smashed off the new security lock but could only steal the new safety gloves and helmet that were replaced so the volunteers could at least do some restoration work on their workdays.

The safety work wear items will have to be replaced again so volunteers can carry out winter restoration work.

The Friends, which has a small band of volunteers, has to pay £400 annually for public liability insurance which takes up much of their budget leaving no cash to insure the contents.

Alan said the Friends, who this year celebrated its 20th birthday, would like to thank local people for the donations and offers of help after the initial break-in.

Over the winter the work team usually carry out restoration work on the foundations of the historic buildings.

Other projects will be to dig up apple trees the group grafted on to root stock five years ago.

These are grafts from apple trees planted around 1835 by John Leech who built Gorse Hall and the orchard in the Victorian garden on the site.

The team has been training apple trees along wires to increase the crop. Other work over the winter will be some restoration work on ruins of the old hall that was probably built around 1630.

The Friends manage the 35 acres of woodland and meadow that form Gorse Hall Country Park which is used for recreational and educational purposes.

The Friends’ main project was to uncover the site of the new Gorse Hall which was demolished in 1910 after the brutal murder of George Harry Storrs, a local builder. This year is the 110th anniversary of the murder.

The previous occupants of the hall were local mill owner John Leech and his wife Jane who were the grandparents of Beatrix Potter.

• If anyone wishes to donate money to buy tools or to donate mowers or equipment, call Alan 07790 006345 or Bernard 07739 039032.

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