'It's an easy target for thieves' - paving slabs stolen from abandoned Church Farm House Museum in Hendon

Gerard Roots, Andrew Dismore and East Finchley Councillor Arjun Mittra

Gerard Roots, Andrew Dismore and East Finchley Councillor Arjun Mittra

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

"Disgraceful" thieves tore up paving stones from the grounds of an abandoned museum.

Burglars broke into Church Farm House Museum, in Greyhound Hill, Hendon, overnight and stole ten York stone paving flags.

The slabs are worth £70 each and police are currently awaiting further details about the incident.

Barnet Borough Council has been unable to secure a buyer for the Grade II* listed building since it closed in March 2011, much to the dismay of campaigners.

Former curator Gerard Roots said: “I am upset to hear this – the people who did this are crooks, they are disgraceful.

“The building is starting to look dilapidated and neglected and that means problems are more likely to occur. It’s an easy target for thieves. It’s awful, but it’s true.

“Even though the museum is no longer my responsibility, I still care about it. It shows how vulnerable the building is now it’s closed.”

Mr Roots is standing as Labour candidate for Hendon ward and if elected, says he will ensure the council maintain the building.

He added: “It’s a great shame – it’s an important part of Hendon life. It’s one of the most important buildings the council owns.”

Negotiations to sell the site to Middlesex University are ongoing, although a formal lease is yet to be signed.

Until then, the council spends £85 a day on employing security guards for the site.

The old house was once home to the Dunlop family, who lived there from 1869 to 1943, and was opened as a museum in 1944. When it closed, the authority auctioned off its artefacts making a profit of just £17,380.

English Heritage has warned it could be placed on the ‘at risk’ register if it is still empty by 2015.

GLA member for Barnet Andrew Dismore said: “The council should be ashamed of themselves.

“They will have to replace the missing flags at no doubt considerable expense to the council tax payers of Barnet, but it is difficult to see how new stones will be able to replicate the appearance of the stolen old ones.”

Councillor Daniel Thomas, deputy leader of Barnet Council, said: “It is important that a long-term and sustainable outcome for this building is reached and lease negotiations have been on-going.

“Proposals will come before the regeneration, assets and growth committee under the new council in due course.

“In the meantime, security will continue to be provided for the site. Of course, one does suspect that the thieves would have struck regardless of who uses the building in the daytime.”

Comments (10)

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4:07pm Tue 20 May 14

Mike NW7 says...

Is Cllr Thomas Barnet's answer to Inspector Clouseau? Talk about trying to make excuses!
Is Cllr Thomas Barnet's answer to Inspector Clouseau? Talk about trying to make excuses! Mike NW7
  • Score: 10

4:12pm Tue 20 May 14

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

Clearly 'security', such as it is, is inadequate, and the whole matter is a scandal. There was no 'security' at all at this historic building until I pointed out to senior officers that it was liable to be occupied, like the library in Friern Barnet. Our Tory councillors have no sense of heritage, or value other than market value, and would no doubt sell their own grandmothers if someone offered them a good price.

Please, voters of Barnet, vote Labour on Thursday, even if you are not a traditional Labour supporter - it is the only way to remove this bunch of incompetent fools.
Clearly 'security', such as it is, is inadequate, and the whole matter is a scandal. There was no 'security' at all at this historic building until I pointed out to senior officers that it was liable to be occupied, like the library in Friern Barnet. Our Tory councillors have no sense of heritage, or value other than market value, and would no doubt sell their own grandmothers if someone offered them a good price. Please, voters of Barnet, vote Labour on Thursday, even if you are not a traditional Labour supporter - it is the only way to remove this bunch of incompetent fools. Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 13

6:10pm Tue 20 May 14

BarnetTrader says...

Sell their grandmothers for a good price? I'd say at any price!

They flogged the contents for just £17,380, not even a councillors allowance! That was the value they put on the boroughs's heritage.
Sell their grandmothers for a good price? I'd say at any price! They flogged the contents for just £17,380, not even a councillors allowance! That was the value they put on the boroughs's heritage. BarnetTrader
  • Score: 15

10:49pm Tue 20 May 14

Neville Longbottom says...

Please vote,,, Oh actually... Don't bother stay at home instead.
Please vote,,, Oh actually... Don't bother stay at home instead. Neville Longbottom
  • Score: -10

1:42am Wed 21 May 14

Edgar de Jarnac says...

The Church Farmhouse Museum fiasco is just one of many reasons why I will not be voting Tory in this election.

Barnet Council behaved abominably in 2011 when, after a shamefully inadequate public consultation, it decided to save money by closing the museum and making the staff redundant. My grandchildren were heartbroken, since they loved their regular visits to this child-friendly museum with its amiable curator, Gerard Roots. I’m sure many other Barnet families were equally devastated.

The council then put the building on the market, but two-and-a-half years later it remains unsold. That is hardly surprising, since this delightful property became a local museum only after an earlier, and more rational, council recognised that a decaying 17th century Grade II* listed structure lacked any significant value in the commercial world and so would be better used for the benefit of the community.

Although council tax payers no longer have access to the museum’s quirky permanent displays and its varied and fascinating temporary exhibitions, they still have to pay a fortune for security measures — which are clearly inadequate if this news item is anything to go by.

In the meantime, the council is apparently allowing the condition of the building to continue to deteriorate while it searches in vain for a sucker willing to take it on. My understanding is that, in an attempt to save face at the current election, the council tried to tempt Middlesex University with a dirt-cheap short-term lease. However, I was pleased to read that the university has not yet signed a formal lease.
The Church Farmhouse Museum fiasco is just one of many reasons why I will not be voting Tory in this election. Barnet Council behaved abominably in 2011 when, after a shamefully inadequate public consultation, it decided to save money by closing the museum and making the staff redundant. My grandchildren were heartbroken, since they loved their regular visits to this child-friendly museum with its amiable curator, Gerard Roots. I’m sure many other Barnet families were equally devastated. The council then put the building on the market, but two-and-a-half years later it remains unsold. That is hardly surprising, since this delightful property became a local museum only after an earlier, and more rational, council recognised that a decaying 17th century Grade II* listed structure lacked any significant value in the commercial world and so would be better used for the benefit of the community. Although council tax payers no longer have access to the museum’s quirky permanent displays and its varied and fascinating temporary exhibitions, they still have to pay a fortune for security measures — which are clearly inadequate if this news item is anything to go by. In the meantime, the council is apparently allowing the condition of the building to continue to deteriorate while it searches in vain for a sucker willing to take it on. My understanding is that, in an attempt to save face at the current election, the council tried to tempt Middlesex University with a dirt-cheap short-term lease. However, I was pleased to read that the university has not yet signed a formal lease. Edgar de Jarnac
  • Score: 12

10:36am Wed 21 May 14

marccohen53 says...

I am surprised Mr Dismore you are so concerned about the Barnet tax payers - the cost to the taxpayer of your expenses when you were in parliament didn't seem to concern you too much then.

http://www.telegraph
.co.uk/news/newstopi
cs/mps-expenses/6637
033/MPs-expenses-And
rew-Dismore-claimed-
for-equivalent-of-th
ree-car-journeys-to-
Commons-a-day.html
I am surprised Mr Dismore you are so concerned about the Barnet tax payers - the cost to the taxpayer of your expenses when you were in parliament didn't seem to concern you too much then. http://www.telegraph .co.uk/news/newstopi cs/mps-expenses/6637 033/MPs-expenses-And rew-Dismore-claimed- for-equivalent-of-th ree-car-journeys-to- Commons-a-day.html marccohen53
  • Score: -6

1:46pm Wed 21 May 14

Mike NW7 says...

marccohen53 is a like that mad nutter on the back of a bus that shouts the same thing over and over again. It would be nice to hear what marc thinks about the forced closure of the museum and the theft of the flagstones.
marccohen53 is a like that mad nutter on the back of a bus that shouts the same thing over and over again. It would be nice to hear what marc thinks about the forced closure of the museum and the theft of the flagstones. Mike NW7
  • Score: 11

4:06pm Wed 21 May 14

marccohen53 says...

The only madness is to listen to a Labour parliamentary candidate who has had his hand in the till. "The council should be shamed of itself" - Dismore should be ashamed of himself. I see he is still claiming for travel at the GLA. How can we trust this man and anything he has to say. Perhaps if we stop funding Dismore's travel expenses, we may have more public funds to spend on flagstones.

http://www.london.go
v.uk/mayor-assembly/
london-assembly/memb
ers/andrew-dismore/e
xpenses
The only madness is to listen to a Labour parliamentary candidate who has had his hand in the till. "The council should be shamed of itself" - Dismore should be ashamed of himself. I see he is still claiming for travel at the GLA. How can we trust this man and anything he has to say. Perhaps if we stop funding Dismore's travel expenses, we may have more public funds to spend on flagstones. http://www.london.go v.uk/mayor-assembly/ london-assembly/memb ers/andrew-dismore/e xpenses marccohen53
  • Score: -9

5:01pm Wed 21 May 14

Richard Logue says...

We used to take our children to the Church Farm museum when they were little. It was a fascinating place and a real asset to Barnet. Really shameful to see that thieves have taken those flagstones.
We used to take our children to the Church Farm museum when they were little. It was a fascinating place and a real asset to Barnet. Really shameful to see that thieves have taken those flagstones. Richard Logue
  • Score: 10

7:22am Sat 24 May 14

Barnet Parker says...

Now that the architect of the Church Farm House Museum closure, Robert Rams, has been ejected from the council chamber by the electorate - can we have our museum back please?
Now that the architect of the Church Farm House Museum closure, Robert Rams, has been ejected from the council chamber by the electorate - can we have our museum back please? Barnet Parker
  • Score: 4

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