The elaborate mausoleum of one of Keighley’s grandest families is among the Utley Cemetery memorials attacked by stone thieves, Bradford Council confirmed.
One of the memorials picked on by criminals who caused a catalogue of damage to expensive, carved stonework, was the historic 118-year-old Butterfield Chapel, built for the Butterfields of Cliffe Castle. A large statue was taken from the mausoleum.
Bradford Council said other damage included two tombstones pushed over and smashed, at least five other statues removed, and at least six stone finials stolen or damaged.
The latest spate of vandalism was inflicted at the end of January, as previously reported in the Telegraph & Argus. A Bradford Council spokesman confirmed that the stone removed on that occasion had been abandoned by the thieves, and was now in a Council store.
Charlie Bhowmick, of Utley Cemetery Action Group, said he had written to senior councillors and Council officers emphasising the distress being caused.
Steve Hartley, Bradford’s interim strategic director of environment and sport, said: “Following on from a meeting with the Utley Cemetery Action Group, we are looking at various options available to make improvements to the cemetery, including what can be done to reinstate these memorials.”
Describing the Butterfield Mausoleum, Keighley local historian Ian Dewhirst said: “It’s a very extravagant, ornate mausoleum, and this isn’t the first time it’s been vandalised.
“It’s appalling – let’s face it, we don’t respect our dead any more, do we?
“Other things have been going missing from this cemetery over the years.”
Local resident Matthew Hunter, 35, who walks his dog in the cemetery, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see how much is going missing. And it’s still going on.
“These are things which can never be replaced, and it isn’t just kids having a drink and messing around. This is people who are deliberately stealing stone to sell it on.”