NEARLY two decades after they were stolen, a pair of 19th century gates are back in their rightful place at the entrance to Sheffield’s Weston Park.
The Victorian structures were stolen in the middle of the night in September 1994 - and nobody could understand how they had disappeared without anyone noticing.
Designed in the style of Sheffield artist Godfrey Sykes, responsible for similar structures at London’s South Kensington Museum, the Sheffield gates were erected in 1875 alongside distinctive terracotta pillars.
Then on September 7, 1994, the gates, each weighing a ton, disappeared. Detectives thought thieves used a crane, with the intention of selling them to collectors in South America.
But last year blacksmith Andrew Renwick, who had put in a bid to design replica gates when they were stolen, spotted the originals outside a new house near Eckington.
He told The Star: “They seemed familiar, so we did some research and found they were the original gates.”
Two Sheffield craftsmen, who restored the gates 40 years ago, were brought in to authenticate them.
Stonemason Neville Slack, aged 75, said: “In the 1970s the gates and the terracotta pillars were falling apart, and we had a tiny budget to fix them, about £500. I could point out every repair we made, because you could see it was a bit of a botched job.”
Blacksmith Stanley Gregory, 79, who also worked on the restoration, added: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard they had been found.”
The new owner had bought the gates from a local farmer, who had stored the gates in his barn for a decade. The farmer had bought them as part of a job lot of scrap materials from a demolition site.
After the gates were authenticated the owner was happy to give them back to Weston Park, where they were yesterday reinstalled in the south-east corner.