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Fresh appeal over antique rail clock stolen in Nineties museum raid

By Linda Stewart

Published 05/02/2016

The stolen clock
The stolen clock
Downpatrick railway museum

Have you seen this stolen clock? If so, it's time to help hand this antique back to its rightful owners - a group of local rail enthusiasts.

Downpatrick and County Down Railway (DCDR) has launched a fresh appeal to find the original booking office clock that once hung in a station in the county.

It was one of the original artefacts to be displayed in its railway museum in the 1990s.

DCDR vice chairman Robert Gardiner said: "This booking office clock was from the original company that operated the railway before it closed in 1950 - the Belfast & County Down Railway - and it would have originally hung in one of the stations on the old network between Newcastle and Belfast.

"It was spotted in an antique shop and bought by a number of volunteers who chipped in together to buy it for the museum in 1990 for public display.

"The railway was only a couple of years old, and it was one of our earliest artefacts.

"But only a few years later burglars stole it from the station. Since then our security has been significantly improved throughout the site and museum, with the railway recently being awarded more than £3,000 in grant aid from the Northern Ireland Museums Council for further improvements."

Mr Gardiner said the theft had been a terrible blow to volunteers who clubbed together to save the clock.

"When reported to the police there were no photographs to circulate.

"However, old camcorder footage of the clock has emerged, sparking a new appeal.

"It's a fairly common design from the makers Ansonia," Mr Gardiner added.

"It has an octagon-shaped face, and a pointed case, but what makes it special is that it had the initials 'BCDR' handwritten on the dial, presumably done by one of the old staff members, as shown in the close-up in the video - it's that provenance that was important to us. In the 20 years that have passed it's never been recovered, either privately or by the police. And until this footage recently turned up no one had a photo of it.

"Given its provenance, there's a very high chance it's still out there, maybe with a collector who innocently purchased it not knowing it was stolen."

The group urged anyone with information to contact the PSNI at Downpatrick on 101.

Belfast Telegraph

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