Heartless vandals have damaged 15 vintage fire engines, police cars and ambulances while they were in storage in Sheffield.
The vehicles are part of the volunteer-run National Emergency Services Museum's collection and were being stored at a site on the outskirts of the city owned by Sheffield City Council.
The charity's lease on the unit is coming to an end and as there is no space to put the 18 vehicles on display at the museum building, they were offered new storage space at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham.
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Volunteers were preparing to move the fleet of historic vehicles to their new home when they realised that all but three had suffered damage from vandals.
Many had their engines, tyres and other parts stripped out while windscreens and windows had been smashed. Some of the vehicles we discovered standing on bricks and three have had to be scrapped.
The museum's devastated CEO Matthew Wakefield said:-
"After a lot of worry about where we would be able to safely store these vehicles it was such a relief when Magna kindly stepped in to offer us a temporary new home for this part of our collection.
“Local companies and museum volunteers gave up their time to help transport the vehicles out of Sheffield last week on one of the wettest days of the year. So it was just heart-breaking to find that someone had been able to access the site and do such damage to items in our collection.
“That's one reason why this is so distressing. After learning we had to move from our storage site our volunteers, local businesses and Magna all stepped in to help us out of a really tricky and worrying situation. So the fact that just a few people can ruin it is very upsetting for all of us."
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NESM has around 160 vehicles in its care but due to space limitations can only display about 50 in the museum at any one time, so restoration and maintenance worked had been carried out at a site rented from the council. This function will now move to Magna.
The fleet will be on display at the Sheffield Christmas Lights event on Sunday November 17, where visitors will be able to explore vehicles not usually on display to the public.
"It will cost us around £40,000 per year to keep our historic fleet under cover and on the road. We are an entirely self-funded museum and receive no money at all from the local authority or local government, so everything we spend we have to earn. We also rely so much on the support and goodwill from local businesses, organisations and individuals and, of course, our fantastic visitors.”
In the past few years NESM visitor numbers have increased from 7,000 per year to over 30,000.
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It opened in 1984 as the Sheffield Fire and Police Museum inside the former police and fire station on West Bar in the city centre, and was given its new name in 2014.