HISTORIC iron gates that graced the entrance to Kingsley Cemetery for more than a century have been stolen.
Villagers say they are “shocked and saddened” by the theft of the 6ft high pair of ornamental gates that was discovered on Thursday last week by a couple visiting the burial ground in Hollow Lane.
Last year, residents celebrated the completion of a long-awaited community project, which saw the 112-year-old gates transferred from the cemetery’s original access to a new, safer entrance near the corner of Westbrook Road.
Project leader, Kingsley parish councillor Graham Warburton, said: “The village waited a long time for this new entrance and had quite a battle getting the funding and planning permission for it. We had just got it all sorted, and now this.
“A couple rang me up late on Thursday afternoon, saying they were at the cemetery and where had the gates gone? They thought they might have gone to be repaired or something. I realised almost straight away the gates had been nicked. It was really quite a shock.
“Whoever it was knew exactly what they were after.
“There must have been more than one person involved because these gates are really quite heavy, I reckon about two and a half hundredweight apiece. They’ve probably gone for scrap by now, but they are quite decorative, so I suppose they could try to sell them on somewhere.”
Cllr Warburton added: “They were insured, but only for impact damage, if a vehicle backed into them or something, but not for theft – that’s the last thing we expected.”
Parish clerk Doreen Woods said councillors meeting this week agreed to wait three months before taking any action, “just in case the gates turn up”.
However, she said the parish council was working on a very small budget and could not afford the estimated cost of at least £10,000 to replace the gates, like for like.
One councillor’s proposal for wooden replacements was not supported, said Mrs Woods.
“It was finally agreed that if we are going to do it, we want to do a proper job, so we will looking into getting grant funding from somewhere for 80% of the cost, or we may have to consider leaving the entrance open.”
Police Inspector Phil Hodgson held out little hope of recovering the gates. He said: “The theft of metal is a national problem and the chances of finding them are very remote.
“They will have gone for melting down or somewhere else within the space of an hour and there appears to be no sightings of any vehicles in relation to this theft, so it really does leave us with no lines of enquiry at the moment.
“However, if anyone does have any information we would like to hear from them.”
Call the Frodsham NPU team on 01244 612543.