‘MINDLESS’ yobs caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to a Blackburn park.

Fifty-five windows at the conservatory in Corporation Park were smashed by a gang of four youths, who were thought to have used bricks, sticks and metal bars to shatter the glass panes.

It is the second incident at the park in the last week, with the site’s ‘irreplaceable’ Flora statue being smashed in an early morning attack.

The vandalism, which happened at around 9.15pm on Wednesday, was caught on CCTV and police are now working with park wardens and residents to identify those responsible.

Park manager Eddie Maxwell said a huge part of the heritage of the town centre green haven had now been lost.

He said: “It is disgusting, mindless, systematic vandalism.

“It is £10,000 which the council will struggle to find because of the budget constraints.

“It is an expense we could do without at the moment, times are really hard.

“I feel sorry for the park users, we have a group of people dedicated to raising the profile of the park and it is just a kick in the teeth for their constant year-round efforts.”

The conservatory, which was built in 1900, currently houses exotic plants and a Heritage Lottery bid for £1.8million had been submitted to create an education centre and cafe, although this was recently turned down.

Sue Riley, 62, from Whalley, uses the park to walk her daughter’s dog and said she was angry that such damage had been done.

She said: “It is awful, it is such a beautiful building.

“It is such a shame and a needless crime and those responsible should be made to put the panes of glass back in to pay for what they have done.”

Sgt Conrad Tapp said: “This is mindless criminal damage which will cost thousands of pounds to repair.

“We need the public’s help to catch those responsible and I would appeal to anybody that witnessed any youths in the area, either prior to, or around the time of the offence to contact police.”

“We are currently pursuing a number of positive lines of enquiry but anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101.”

Corporation Park has fallen victim to several incidents of vandalism over recent years.

Incidents have included £5,000 of damage to railings and walls near the tennis courts and pavillion and two lion head castings being stolen from the cenotaph.

The conservatory has also repeatedly had windows smashed by vandals throwing stones, but never to the extent of Wednesday night’s incident.

Additional police are now set to patrol the area.