Avid walkers and historians were left outraged after the ruins of an old farmhouse wall were demolished by United Utilities.

A photo taken on Wednesday last week shows piles of stones as all that remains of the Drinkwater Farm stone wall on Great Hill, which according to locals, previously stood almost three metres high.

The damage was done by contractors working for United Utilities, who were carrying out work to create a turning area for emergency service vehicles in preparation for moorland fire season.

The water company said the scope of their work did not involve doing anything to the ruins, however, residents and those who regularly visit the area, on Anglezarke Moor between Darwen and Chorley, say the site, which was allegedly used as a target practice during the Second World War, had been destroyed to 'save a few hours of work', and demanded it be restored immediately.

The wall before it was demolished

The wall before it was demolished

Boyd Harris, who took the photo said: "This is all that's left of the Drinkwater's Farm wall that stood almost three metres high.

"United Utilities said their work 'does not involve doing anything to the ruins'. That's not how it is on site.

"Heritage has been destroyed to save a few hours. I am a retired civil engineer of many decades experience and I know the wall was perfectly safe.

"The farm wall should be restored immediately."

The wall at Drinkwater Farm, on Great Hill, close to Roddlesworth, was demolished

The wall at Drinkwater Farm, on Great Hill, close to Roddlesworth, was demolished

Many people took to social media to express their anger, with one user exclaiming: "Good grief. They've utterly destroyed it."

While another said: "No need for this destruction, this was always a highlight of the walk.

"The works weren't meant to touch the ruins. An apology won't cut it.

"This needs careful restoration back to what it was, but I won't hold my breath."

The wall before it was demolished

The wall before it was demolished

A spokesperson for United Utilities said they sent one of their engineers up to the site on Wednesday to investigate peoples' concerns.

The spokesperson added: "We’re doing preparations for moorland fire season. The digger is creating a turning area for vehicles, should they unfortunately need it.

"Our work to widen the turning circle of the access track is now complete and will allow fire-fighting vehicles to operate in the area should they be needed again this year.

"We're not demolishing the ruined farmhouse. Our contractor noticed that a section of one of the walls was unstable while he was working in the vicinity.

"He took the decision to reduce the wall height and make it safe while he was there so that it wouldn’t fall or injure members of the public.

"We support his swift action and we're making arrangements for the wall to be rebuilt by one of our skilled contractors so it remains a safe space that walkers can continue to visit and admire for years to come."

Despite the explanation, many people were unhappy with United Utilities response, with one social media user saying: "Can contractors make decisions like that? Why wasn't it spotted when the contract was issued? Why wasn't it cordoned off?"

Another added: "I'm a surveyor with 18 years local government experience of serving emergency notices on dangerous structures.

"That wall wasn't imminently dangerous, I won't be letting up on this.

"I was up there last Friday and would have reported it if I had felt it was dangerous."

Mr Harris said if the restoration works were carried out correctly he would make a suggestion to United Utilities to erect an information board to illustrate the 10,000 years of human occupation in the area.