The Lancashire Evening Post, Monday, 27th February 2006
Vandals smash pieces of history
VANDALS smashed part of an irreplaceable Victorian balustrade, which forms a focal point in historic Miller Park in Preston. The thugs trashed a 140-year-old Grecian-style urn.

The vandalism of the historic feature, which is often used as a backdrop for wedding photographs, was the culmination of a weeklong wrecking spree in the park.

The vandals damaged poly tunnels used to propagate bedding plants for both Avenham and Miller parks, broke windows in municipal greenhouses and smashed a car belonging to a staff member’s wife.

Miller Park is next to Avenham Park and is laid out in the style of a formal garden.

The balustrade edges the terrace looking down over the stairway, which descends towards the park’s centrepiece, a circular pond with fountain.

Avenham and Miller parks are Grade A listed.

Miller Park was built as an extension to Avenham Park in 1863 and named after Alderman Miller, the benefactor who gifted it to the town.

John Gornall, Preston Council’s works department’s assistant director, said: “This is, without doubt, the most disgusting piece of vandalism I have seen in 18 years of working here.

“What is really distressing is the fact that it has so much history behind it. Couples often come on to the park and get their wedding photographs taken in front of it.

“The real shame is the fact that they have smashed the ornamental vase, which sits on top. That is irreplaceable – but it’s been smashed to pieces unfortunately.

“If somebody was to try to replace the original, it would cost thousands of pounds.”

Park staff discovered the damage when they began work at 7.30am on Monday. The damage is thought to have been caused around 8pm the night before.

A police scene of crime team has examined the area for clues.

There are no CCTV cameras in the parks and the only security is thought to be the park ranger. Community beat officers also patrol the area.

Alan Woods, chairman of the Friends of Avenham and Miller Parks, said: “It would just be a shame if we had to think about having CCTV cameras in the parks. “They are the lungs of the city, they are there for everyone’s recreation. “I would hate to think that the time had come when we had to do something like that. It would be a retrograde step. “Somebody will know who’s done this and somebody will start to let it out. “They won’t have come far. They are spoiling their own backyards.”

Councillor Veronica Afrin, executive member for regeneration, community and leisure, said: “The balustrade will be difficult to replace as we have to make sure that any restoration work fits in with the original design. “We hope to carry it out as part of the £5m regeneration of the parks.”

Anyone with any information should contact Preston police on 01772 203 203.

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, February 2006