Arsonists leave behind trail of damage in double break in at nature centre

The aftermath of the blaze at West Boldon Lodge.
The aftermath of the blaze at West Boldon Lodge.

Vandals who targeted an education centre sparked a series of fires and trashed areas built by dedicated volunteers.

Yobs broke into West Boldon Lodge and set fire to trees, burnt out a bug hotel, broke up its ‘hidey-huts’ and music - area used as its playschool - and threw life rings into the pond.

West Boldon Lodge, where vandals attacked its woodland.

West Boldon Lodge, where vandals attacked its woodland.

They also cut holes and threw stones to puncture the centre’s new poly tunnel, which was only recently installed by a team of helpers.

The damage, believed to be caused on two raids by vandals over the last few days, did not hold up the team which runs the environmental centre, as they turned their attentions to ensuring its programme went on uninterrupted.

The break-ins, which happened between 5pm on Monday and 8.30am today at the site on Newcastle Road, West Boldon, are being investigated by police.

Groundwork North East South Tyneside and Newcastle runs the 12-acre park in partnership with the National Grid, which operates a neighbouring sub-station.

Our fantastic volunteers leapt straight into action to repair the hidey huts and music area so that our forest play school could continue to enjoy the woodland.

Groundworks spokesman

A spokesman for Groundwork, which welcomes more than 8,000 visitors to the site each year, said: “Our fantastic volunteers leapt straight into action to repair the hidey huts and music area so that our forest play school could continue to enjoy the woodland.

“They visit the site every Monday and Friday for pre-school children and their parents to engage in outdoor play together.

“They would never have known that there had been any damage.

“We’d like to thank our volunteers James Baxter and Andrew Pinnock.

The polytunnel attacked by the intruders to the Groundwork North East site.

The polytunnel attacked by the intruders to the Groundwork North East site.

“Participants on Groundwork’s regular Green Gym health programme, who help to maintain the site as a way of improving physical and mental health, also helped to repair some of the damage.

“National Grid is supporting Groundwork to improve security with a view to deterring trespassers and catching anyone who does trespass.”

Witnesses are asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 quoting reference 269 280317 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Some of the damage caused during the break-in at West Boldon Lodge.

Some of the damage caused during the break-in at West Boldon Lodge.