Investigation into vintage vehicles fire

A police forensics team was last night waiting for the all clear to begin its investigation after asbestos was found at the scene of a blaze in which nearly 40 vintage bicycles and motorbikes and 15 old banger cars were destroyed.

A police forensics team was last night waiting for the all clear to begin its investigation after asbestos was found at the scene of a blaze in which nearly 40 vintage bicycles and motorbikes and 15 old banger cars were destroyed.

The warped frames of irreplaceable bikes, including a 1930s tandem and a rare 1950s English-built scooter called a DMW Bambi, lie in the charred remains of a large poultry shed at a farm near Yarmouth.

Police said the cause of the fire was unknown and a sample of asbestos taken from the building's roof has been sent to a laboratory for testing to assess the risk to investigators before they enter the building at Manor Farm, at Cantley,.

But David Watson, who owned the bike collection, said he feared Monday night's fire had been started deliberately.

The shed doors were found open, despite a padlock, when firefighters arrived to tackle the flames.

The collection of bikes, which were being kept in the shed for storage, had been put together by 52-year-old Mr Watson over 10 years as possible restoration projects.

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The cars in the shed belonged mostly to his son Dean, a keen banger racer at Yarmouth stadium.

Mr Watson said: “They are just irreplaceable. How often do you get offered a 1930s tandem with a gent's front and a lady's back? “It's never going to happen again. It's just twisted metal. You couldn't restore that.

“I don't want to think how much was lost. It's stuff I have picked up over the last 10 years from Ebay and my travels. There was a rare adult tricycle from the 1050s,” he added.

The collection, worth thousands of pounds, was uninsured leaving the family to count the cost. And they could be left with the bill for the clean up too, said Mr Watson, an electrician from Martham.

“We went out hoping something would be salvageable but there was nothing,” said Mr Watson, who restores the old bikes to take to shows around the country.

Dean Watson, a 27-year-old engineer and retained firefighter, also from Martham, said he was saving the old cars as he had planned to get back into banger racing after a two-year break but now would have to give up completely.

He was storing a Ford Granada stretched limousine, a Ford Fiesta and a trailer in the barn as well, he said.

Rhonda Bell, who owns the site, said it was very sad that the bikes had been lost. She was alerted to the blaze when her lodger's dog started to whine at the door, she said. The fire brigade had already been called by neighbours.

Anyone with information should call PC Neil Hargreaves on 0845 456 4567 or anonymously Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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