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Exclusive: Historic paving ripped up by Hope St thieves

Vigilance urged after daylight robbery of high demand York stone

Written by . Published on January 7th 2013.

Exclusive: Historic paving ripped up by Hope St thieves

VALUABLE Yorkshire stone paving slabs have been ripped up from Liverpool's historic Hope Street area in a daring daylight robbery. 

Two sections of stones, laid almost 200 years ago, disappeared from Blackburne Place, and from Huskisson Street, outside St Bride's Church over the weekend. 

In both cases thieves put “men at work” barriers around the excavations to give the impression of legitimate road works as they went about their business amid an unsuspecting public. 

Now Merseyside Police is investigating the thefts after they were flagged up by Liverpoool Confidential.

If not stolen to order, it is most likely that the stones, which are unmarked, will be sold on the lucrative black market as “reclaimed”. 

Dirty diggers: Thieves leave their bogus barriers and signs behind on Huskisson StreetDirty diggers: Thieves leave their bogus barriers and signs behind on Huskisson Street

Today Dr Emlyn Williams, from the Rodney Street Association, issued a plea to local residents to be on the look out for street thieves posing as genuine workers. 

He said: “It is clear this is the work of thieves. They have left gaping holes in the pavements with no regard for public safety.

"I would urge anybody in the area to keep a close watch for work teams and take down any particulars, such as vehicle registration numbers. It is almost certain that legitimate contractors and the utility companies will have identifiable vehicles.” 

Blackburne Terrace and Huskisson Street lie in the Canning Conservation Area and its mansions were built at the height of Liverpool's New World trade wealth. Largely unchanged, it remains a popular UK location for TV and film crews shooting period dramas.

Repaired!Blackburne PlaceOn the mend: Blackburne Place

Dr Williams added: “The paving slabs are an important part of our historic streetscape and they must be protected. Of course if anybody saw these people and work and can provide any details that will be even better. Luckily we will have stopped them before they get away with any more of our streets.”

Today Liverpool City Council and its streets maintenance partner, Enterprise, were investigating what had happened and ensuring the two sites were safe. Council security staff are also checking CCTV cameras. 

Today swift repair work was carried out in Blackburne Place by the council after it was alerted by Councillor Tim Moore, its cabinet member for transport and climate change.

He said he had plans to have urgent talks with highways and security officials to discuss ways of protecting streets from theft. 

St Bride's Church, LiverpoolHistoric: St Bride's ChurchCllr Moore said: “Thefts of paving slabs occurs from time to time and we need to look at all ways of preventing them. These paving stones are an important part of the street scenes in our historic conservation areas.” 

Although the pavement has been filled in, it is not yet known if the stones will eventually be replaced, like for like, especially given the city's looming financial burdens. 

While the streets of L8 aren't paved with gold, for some it's as near as damn it: Yorkshire stone paving is in short supply, owing to quarrying shortages, and even old flags such as these can cost in excess of £100 a square metre from genuine sellers. 


From a council spokesman...

"There have been recent reported thefts of natural stone paving materials in seven areas across the City. These are St Mary’s Street L25, Sleepers Hill L4, Back Mulberry Street L7, Back Canning Street L8, Blackburn Place L8, Huskinson Street L8 and Doric Road L13. 

"These have been reported to Merseyside Police.. We are currently reviewing CCTV footage to see if there is any evidence that can be forwarded to the Police. 

"All the above areas have been made safe with barriers or temporary tarmac, or in the case of Sleepers Hill with PCC flags. They will all be permanently reinstated with like for like materials within the next 25 days. 

"The cost for permanently reinstating all the above locations is
£3,737.92p and this includes the costs for the emergency make safe works."


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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Knee tremblerJanuary 7th 2013.

Old slabs use to go for a tenner on Hope Street

Welsh StreetsJanuary 7th 2013.

Horrible. Now it really is like the 80s again. High quality building materials are being legally taken from the city via its recent demolition rampages with slate tiles and brick traveling south where the money is.... and now this, the freelance dismantlers are joining in.

I feel so sorry about Hope St. We have got used to people coming up to the Welshies to strip off the lead and the wiring, but this is a sign of the times.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2013.

Not surprising, when we have council approved companies smashing off the original stone cladding of Josephine Butler House and then wrecking it so they could get their way and demolish it or the other preservation work that was carried out by another building developer in Sir Thomas Street where while nobody was looking they took sledge hammers to the ornate sandstone carvings over the old education offices. Now we have the new owners of the India Buildings ripping off the ornamental bronze plaques, destroying them in the process and leaving great holes and bent bolts sticking out of the battered stone. So who are the real thieves and vandals, a few sods nicking a couple of paving slabs or the developers destroying the city's architecture for a fast buck?

Absinthe & TurksJanuary 9th 2013.

I grew up in a Victorian street with Yorkshire stone paving. The Council tore them up and replaced them with cheap nasty concrete flags in the 1980s.
A few years ago the houses were compulsorily purchased by the Council and overnight our old elaborate iron railings vanished. Those solid, well-built houses were demolished a couple of years ago.

People are so used to the vandalism if our environment by profiteers with or without official approval that no-one looks twice.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Terry CotterJanuary 9th 2013.

Those who try to save such things are branded 'cranks' who 'only look backwards' who want to stop progress.

Perhaps Dr. Williams can urge his Tory chums to consider public culture and heritage before private profit? Fat chance!

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