A £5,000 reward for the recovery of Marlborough’s precious, 18 carat gold Mayoral chain, stolen by thieves from the Town Hall on Sunday, was revealed on BBC TV’s Points West programme last night (Tuesday).
The generous offer has come from two of Marlborough’s own town councillors, former mayor Councillor Stewart Dobson and mayor elect Councillor Marian Hannaford-Dobson, who stress they are doing it as private citizens.
And it follows the fact that the town council has no powers itself to issue a reward and the council’s insurers too were unable to help in what is becoming known as the Great Chain Robbery.
The reward will undoubtedly boost the efforts of the police trying to trace the professional criminals, who, as depicted on pictures given exclusively to TV, smashed open the door of the Mayor’s Parlour to steal the historic mayoral chain.
It is insured for an unknown sum – various reported estimates are incorrect – and is normally only worn by Marlborough’s mayors when they appear in public fully robed in red civic insignia, a daytime chain being used when they attend events and meetings.
However, Councillor Guy Loosmore, Marlborough’s 518th Mayor, has dispensed with the daytime chain and worn the full Mayoral multi-chain since taking office, in particular taking delight in showing it to children.
Marian Hannaford-Dobson, currently the deputy Mayor, is due to “inherit” the chain next May, her promotion to first citizen part of tradition, who will take over the Mayor’s role next week when Councillor Loosmore is abroad.
In a statement to Marlborough News Online, Stewart Dobson declared:
“Marian and I in common with all the council were shocked and horrified to learn on Monday that there had been a burglary resulting in the loss of the Mayoral chain.
“We felt that if a reward could be offered as soon as possible there was a chance that the chain might be recovered. On learning that at this stage the council were not in a position to offer a reward, we decided that we as private individuals would offer a reward of £5,000 for information regarding the burglary and, most importantly, for the safe return of the Mayoral chain.
“We believe the chain to be an irreplaceable item of the town’s insignia with great historical value.
“He added: Having had the honour to wear the Mayoral chain on two occasions as Mayor myself, I hope very much that Marian and future town Mayors will also be able to wear such a historic Mayoral chain with equal pride in the future”.
Councillor Loosmore, in his second TV interview of the day, told viewers: “The loss isn’t about the value but about the historical importance. It’s about the town’s heritage. And that’s the important issue here.”
The commentator said one theory was that the thieves, who entered the town hall through a trap door in what used to be the town cells in the basement, knew what they were after.
Caretaker Alan Brown revealed: “The parlour doors were all smashed in. They used stripper to paint finger-prints off the doors and the polish off the door locks. It was senseless what they did.”
Precious metals antique expert Duncan Campbell, also interviewed, said it was only the historical value of the Mayoral chain that is priceless.
“If something like that gets stolen, unfortunately there is no real second-hand market for it,” he explained. “So it is most likely to be recycled, in other words the gold melted down and the gem stones taken out and used for something else.”
Now it is hoped that the reward – and the distinctive town shield crests on the chain – will help it to be recovered and returned to Marlborough, added the commentator.