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Grandad's distress at missing loco

PUBLISHED: 21:35 04 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:06 03 March 2010

A GRANDFATHER who spent more than two years making a miniature steam locomotive for his grandchildren to enjoy has spoken of his distress at having it stolen.

A GRANDFATHER who spent more than two years making a miniature steam locomotive for his grandchildren to enjoy has spoken of his distress at having it stolen.

Burglars have stolen the American-style stream locomotive, as well as a battery driven locomotive and a driving truck worth a total of £4,000, from the miniature railway site at Barham, near Ipswich.

Retired engineer Donald Webb helped lay the 1,200 feet of track for the private miniature railway more than 20 years ago and takes his grandchildren and their friends there to enjoy rides at the four-acre site.

He spent two-and-a-half years building the steam locomotive, and six months on the battery driven engine.

Mr Webb, 71, from Ipswich, said: "Losing the engines has been something I have dreaded for a long time. They are hand made and a labour of love, something for my grandchildren, Adam and Katie, to enjoy.

"They love it and bring their friends there too. As they get older I would probably have sold them and used the money as an investment for my old age.''

Mr Webb has alerted local clubs and auctioneers in case they are offered the engines for sale.

The American steam locomotive worked exactly like real old engines, only in miniature, using coal to create steam.

Mr Webb does not believe he will make another one like it, although may try and build a simpler battery driven one again – which takes about six months to complete.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said the thieves struck sometime between 4pm on Saturday and 8.30am on Sunday.

She appealed for anyone with any information about the burglary to contact Pc Andrew Smethurst at Stowmarket Police Station on 01473 383390.

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