South West Wales

Stolen statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in Neyland is replaced

Statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Image caption The bronze statue is a replica of another thought to have been stolen for metal

A statue of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel has been unveiled in Pembrokeshire to replace one thought to have been stolen by metal thieves.

The original 8ft (2.4m) bronze sculpture went missing from its plinth in Neyland in August 2010.

Now a replica of the statue - recast using the original mould used by sculptor Robert Thomas of Barry - has been erected in its place.

It honours the man who brought the Great Western Railway to Pembrokeshire.

Residents of Neyland spent seven years raising £30,000 towards the original statue.

It was unveiled by the Prince of Wales in July 1999 - just six weeks after its sculptor died.

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Media captionSarah Moore reports on preparations for the unveiling

Two men were arrested after the statue was stolen but were released without charge.

The new bronze Brunel statue was unveiled on Saturday in the Neyland Hotel Gardens, Brunel Quay.

Swansea-based artist Ceri Thomas, the son of the sculptor, was among those at the unveiling.

Security measures

The cost has been covered by the insurance taken out on the previous statue by its owners Neyland Town Council.

Paul Miller, a Pembrokeshire county councillor for Neyland West, said it was important to replace the monument.

Image caption The original Brunel statue was stolen in August 2010

"A lot of work went into raising the money for the original statue," he said.

"For us to have it stolen and accept that it's gone would have been a disaster.

"It's really important for community spirit to have it replaced."

Maureen Molyneux, mayor of Neyland, who unveiled the new statue, added: "It is a great achievement and delight to regain Isambard Kingdom Brunel's presence back as a Neyland landmark."

Additional security measures including bollards and CCTV have been put in place to thwart would-be thieves in future.

The Brunel statue was one of many items to have gone missing across Wales as rising commodity prices make metal objects in public places attractive to thieves.

Litter bins, manhole covers, copper cables and memorial plaques have previously been targeted, as well as sculptures.

This month the theft of metal wire forced the closure of the landmark Puddlers Bridge in Merthyr Tydfil opened just over a year ago.

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