‘Brazen’ thieves take steam engine parts

Gulliver steam engine at Holcot in 2003
Gulliver steam engine at Holcot in 2003
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A much-loved steamroller may never run again after thieves carried out a ‘military style’ theft of its parts from a field near Daventry.

Gulliver the Aveling and Porter steamroller was undergoing repair in a secure building in Welton when it was targeted by thieves last week.

Gulliver’s heartbroken owner, David Viewing, said: “In a stunningly brazen, military-style attack a highly organised gang drove across open fields and broke through closed gateways to reach the engine’s home in a secure building.

“They then spent a considerable time loading up a huge quantity of tools and other equipment before escaping.”

The theft included most of the boiler fittings and brasswork from Gulliver.

Mr Viewing continued: “The loss of these parts is a terrible blow to the project to restore Gulliver to working order.

“The engine has been out of commission for firebox repairs and the missing components were neatly stacked awaiting re-installation.

“We were clearly naive to believe that our secluded location and secure building gave us the protection of privacy and we were caught completely unawares by the thieves’ route onto the property.

“The fact that they were willing to cross a quarter-mile of recently cultivated land and break through fences in an ordinary vehicle shows the lengths that these people will go to and I am grateful that we did not accidentally encounter them, where they would have been cornered and quite possibly highly dangerous.”

Gulliver was built in Rochester, Kent in 1922 and has been a popular sight in Northamptonshire byways and steam fairs since 1985.

Mr Viewing said: “Gulliver has given many small children their first experience of riding on a steam engine at shows like Hollowell and Rushden Cavalcade over the years. It will be difficult to manufacture replacement parts that comply with modern regulations and heartbreaking to think that we may never see the engine run again.”

Mr Viewing is offering a ‘very substantial reward’ for information leading to the arrest and conviction of an offender/s. It is believed the offenders drove from the scene to the B4036, heading towards Daventry at around 7am on Wednesday, October 8.