Anger as historic railway sign is stolen from church

·2-min read
The sign that has allegedly been stolen.  Pic Pattern Church
The sign that has allegedly been stolen. Pic Pattern Church

AN important part of Swindon's railway heritage has gone missing.

A turntable sign positioned next to the Pattern Church in Penzance Drive has disappeared overnight and it is feared thieves are to blame.

The church occupies the former Pattern Shop where Great Western Railway workers used to make patterns for its coaching stock.

It has been at the iconic premises for the past two years following the closure of Italian restaurant chain Bottelino's.

Outside there used to be a working turntable where locomotives could be turned round to face the right direction.

Churchgoers hope to repair the turntable to get it back into working order, with planning permission granted by Swindon Borough Council in 2019.

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The turntable and Pattern Shop was Grade II listed in 1990.

But the sign which told drivers to stop their locomotives dead before entering the turntable has disappeared and police are investigating.

Associate Minister Kaf Smith, who helps run Pattern Church, said: “We had a big survey on the turntable about a month ago. English Heritage are involved and the Diocese of Bristol are involved and are hoping to get it restored and working again

“It’s strange timing to lose part of the heritage of the turntable.

“Part of Swindon’s heritage has gone.”

She called on whoever is responsible to return the sign to the chuch.

“It would be an answer to prayer and a gift to Swindon,” Kaf said.

“We’re really here for Swindon and we’re here for you.”

The sign was allegedly stolen from the old railway works between 7pm on Tuesday and 7am on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said: “We can confirm that yesterday we received a report that two metal signs had been stolen from the heritage train turntable in Penzance Drive in Swindon.

“The theft is believed to have occurred between 7.15pm on Tuesday (June 28) and 7.30am yesterday (June 29) and we would urge anyone with information to call us on 101, quoting crime reference 54220067593.”

The works at the Pattern Church finished at the height of the pandemic and the worshipping area can be accessed in two ways – by a large staircase or via a twisty slide.

The slide has been fully operational since August last year and is available to children and adults alike.

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