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Historic Bradford bell is stolen by daylight raiders
Thieves have been condemned for stealing “an iconic part of Bradford’s history” after carrying off an 1870s bell that was sitting in pride of place at Manningham Mills.
The theft of the half-ton £4,000 bell has left staff devastated, with manager Ashley Holdsworth saying that the culprits should “hang their heads in shame”. Police were last night scrutinising CCTV footage to find the thieves and the bell.
Mr Holdsworth said that his staff only realised the bell had gone at 11.45am yesterday when they saw three men get into a green van and discovered it missing.
Mr Holdsworth gave chase in his car but lost the van.
The bell has sat in the centre, based at Silk Way House, Lilycroft Road, for four years after it was returned to the Grade II-listed building after years in storage at Bradford Industrial Museum.
Such was the occasion that the Reverend George Moffat, vicar for 13 years in Manningham before he left for Bolton Priory, was invited to toast the bell’s return in 2008.
It first struck in 1873 and would have been a means of saying production starts or ends at what was the world’s largest silk and velvet mill.
Mr Holdsworth said: “I am worried it will be melted for scrap metal but they will only get a tenth of what it is worth.”
Police Community Support Officer Rita Pugal said: “It is part of the heritage of the local area and an iconic symbol which was used in the textile trade many years ago. It is about two to three foot in height and weighs around half a tonne. It also has the unique marking 1873 which would make it clearly recognisable.”
Anyone with information about the bell should call West Yorkshire Police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.