A PIECE of history at Blackburn fire station has been destroyed by a careless lorry driver performing a U-turn.

The red, ornamental iron work sign, which has been in place since the Canterbury Street station opened in 1922, was smashed in an accident caught on CCTV.

Leading Firefighter Steve Boyne of Green Watch said: "That sign had seen a couple of world wars and survived.

"But the CCTV footage shows an articulated lorry do a U-turn, hit it and damage it beyond repair.

"The driver drove away and didn't tell us what had happened, so we need to get in touch with the company to get their insurance details for the repair."

It is believed the two-metre square sign, which had been above the main doors to the Byrom Street building for 80 years, is quite valuable but firefighters say it is worth more than just the money.

Firemen re-painted the sign red as part of their duties for many years before the task was handed over to contractors.

Leading firefighter Boyne said: "We are devastated. There are firefighters who have served here for 30 years and some who would have painted the sign as man and boy. It is a piece of Blackburn fire station's history and means a lot to firefighters.

"If we can get a response from the person responsible and the company can foot the bill we can probably get some sort of work done to it or even a replacement to put up there.

"I don't know exactly what it was worth but I would imagine it would cost a fortune to replace it, because of its design."

Firefighters helped a steel fabricating company remove the sign using the station's aerial platform after the incident at lunchtime on Friday.

John Hulton, director of the firm, JCM Steel Fabrications, of Canterbury Street, said: "The damage is probably in the region of a few thousand pounds as the metal has twisted out of shape and the brackets need replacing. It is a big job.

"It could also have been dangerous if it had not been taken down in time, as it was about a tonne and a half of cast iron and steel."

The lorry had a Mercedes white cab and a blue trailer unit and included the word "Distribution" in capital letters on the side.

A police spokesperson said the matter had been reported and they were investigating.

Witnesses to the accident should call Blackburn police on 01254 51212.