Four youths have been arrested after a model railway show worth tens of thousands of pounds was ‘wantonly destroyed’ by vandals.
Trains and track layouts were overturned and stamped on during the raid at a secondary school in Stamford, Lincolnshire, early on Saturday morning.
The exhibits had been set up for an annual show by the Market Deeping Model Railway Club, which is now attempting to rebuild with an online crowdfunding campaign.
Club secretary Brian Norris wrote in his appeal for help: “Imagine our horror and grief when we were greeted by this scene of absolute devastation.
“Some of the models on display are irreplaceable and whilst money cannot possibly replace the hours of painstaking effort that has been so wantonly destroyed, we would ask that you make a donation, no matter how small, to help us get back on our feet.”
Members lost years of work, and one locomotive alone was worth around £8,500.
”One guy spent 25 years on his work and it’s wrecked, it’s just horrendous,” chairman Peter Davies told the BBC.
Police said they were first alerted at around 3.50am after a neighbour heard noises coming from the Stamford Welland Academy, formerly known as Queen Eleanor School.
“A short time later whilst we were on our way to the call, the alarm at the school activated,” Lincolnshire Police said in a statement.
“On arrival at the school we arrested four youths, who were on the premises, for burglary and criminal damage and they are in custody at Grantham.
“We are continuing our investigation and confirm damage was done to model railway exhibits which had been set up in the school for a display.”
On Saturday night the four youths were released on conditional bail while police continued their investigation.
The annual model railway show had been held in Stamford for the last 12 years and involved months of planning.
Although the event had to be cancelled, the fundraising campaign had already passed £5,000 by Sunday evening.