Friday 16 November 2018 10:20:15 PM

Santa On Track Despite Vandals Having Smashing Time
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Vandals have smashed carriage windows at the Downpatrick and County Down Railway in Downpatrick.

Following recent incidents in the centre of Downpatrick and harassment of local businesses, shoppers and people parking cars behind The Grove and in the St Patrick Square area, Downpatrick railway enthusiasts who work as volunteers are now picking up the bill for the wanton destruction of the carriage windows.

In total three windows will need to be replaced on one carriage after the attack on Wednesday 1st November.

Long term volunteer Gerry Cochrane looks on to the damaged windows on a carriage at Downpatrick railway.

Gerry Cochrane, a long-time volunteer said: “The DCDR has just under 200 members.  And there are about 40 volunteers who at times help out with restoration work on the engines and carriages and other items. It is just sad to see this damage taking place as it cost hundred of pounds to fix. It is quite a complex job replacing a window most of the time and can take over a day to complete. This is certainly a waste of volunteers’ precious time and resources.

“Last week a group of six youths were involved in pulling down wiring at the Loop platform. When they were confronted they became abusive. The police were called but it appears no-one was questioned.”

Volunteers at the Downpatrick railway are gearing up for the Christmas festivities and were preparing the carriage for the Lapland Express to take passengers out to Santa’s Grotto at Inch. Now unless the windows are repaired costing hundreds of pounds, another carriage will have to be used.

Robert Gardiner, Downpatrick and County Down railway chairman, said: “Our main priority is to get the repairs completed and the carriage back in action for the Christmas events. The Lapland Express will go on regardless and Santa will be here as usual despite this unfortunate setback.

“Our volunteers do a fantastic job in maintaining and restoring engines and carriages etc and must be commended for their work. The Downpatrick railway is a very popular tourist and visitor centre and with our new museum we will increase this potential even further over the next few years.

“This incident has been a set back but we have been relatively free from incidents like this in recent years.”

If anyone has any information about the incident, they are requested to call the police on 101 or phone Crimestoppers at 0800555111.