HUNDREDS of pounds worth of prized memorabilia has been stolen from a Bacup museum.

Police are appealing for information after replica items dating back decades were stolen from Bacup Natural History Society and Museum.


A Lee Enfield First World War rifle with bayonet from a Battle of the Somme display was taken during the burglary, along with scores of ornamental mining figures made from coal, brass and bronze.

Two replica king’s shillings, a Royal British Legion collection box, a 32-inch tv and 10 brass miners lamps were also stolen.

Wendy Watters, general secretary and photograph librarian, said the thieves had stolen part of the town’s history.

She said: “My brain wasn’t quite registering what had happened at first, but as I looked round the room I began to realise how much had been taken.

“These ornaments are not something you would be able to get hold of easily as they have been out of issue for the last 15 years.

“I put up the display for the Battle of the Somme and I think the rifle being stolen was what shocked me the most.

“It seems to be extremely bad in Bacup for burglaries at the moment, it’s getting hammered.

“It is a tough time for museums with the Helmshore Textile Museum and Queen Street Mill shutting down. Some people evidently have no respect.

“We are a charity, we exist purely on membership donations and we do not need this.”

The thieves broke in to the building on Monday between 2.30pm and 4pm after smashing their way through a locked side door.

It is thought that around £500 worth of memorabilia was stolen.

The 16 ornaments taken were donated by a history society member who collected them during his time as a miner.

The decommissioned rifle was donated by another member who had collected military items for years.

Police Community Support Officer Chris Hamer said the break-in was a ‘significant loss’ to the Bacup community.

He said: “This is a significant loss to the Bacup community.

“The items stolen are of low monetary value but of immeasurable value to the history of the town.”

“I appeal to anyone who may know of the whereabouts of these items to get in touch with us.

“I also appeal to those responsible for the theft. These items will fetch very little, if any, money.

“Please do not dump them somewhere when you can’t find anyone to buy them.

“Do the decent thing and return them to the museum.”

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101.