Hunt for two men after Bo'ness model railway torched in deliberate fire

22 May 2024, 08:44 | Updated: 22 May 2024, 11:56

Members of a model railway group have been left devastated after vandals trashed and torched train carriages at a much-loved tourist attraction.

The break-in at Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway occurred during the early hours of Sunday morning, with Police Scotland on the hunt for two men they want to track down in connection with the incident at the Falkirk yard.

Bo'ness Gauge 'O' Group, which has spent three decades building and maintaining a model railway at the visitor hot spot, has been left saddened over the raid.

One of the carriages - where the models, publications and maintenance equipment are stored - was "extensively damaged", while the public exhibition coach suffered "severe smoke damage" and will need to be refurbished before reopening.

Chris McDonald, chairman of the group, said the carriages damaged date back to 1923 and 1937.

Mr McDonald told Sky News that members are "all still reeling from what has happened" and most of the model railway had been "handmade from scratch".

He added: "We are trying to rally together to get our beautiful model railway back to working order for the joy of thousands of our visitors."

A JustGiving page has been set up, with almost £10,000 raised so far.

One of the backers, who donated £100, wrote: "Buildings can be replaced with cash, but the dedication of the modellers is priceless. I hope this small donation helps."

Another couple added: "Our sincere thoughts are with all of you who put so much time, love and tender care into building the model railway.

"We look forward to when it will be brought back to life again."

Mr McDonald said some of the comments on the fundraising page were "very touching".

He added: "Ironically, this has restored my faith in the kindness of strangers.

"Compared to the senselessness of the vandalism, the generosity that has been shown since, particularly just this last 24 hours since we set up the JustGiving page, has been incredibly heartening."

Read more from Sky News:
Two men arrested in connection with fatal stabbing in Glasgow
'Roof ninja' woman found living inside shop sign said it was an 'old safe spot'

Police Scotland said fire crews extinguished the small blaze at around 7am on Sunday.

The force added that two men had been seen "acting suspiciously" in the area at around 2am.

Both men were described as being in their late-20s to early-40s, around 5ft 8in to 6ft tall, and clean shaven.

One man, who was said to have a large build, was wearing dark glasses, a baseball cap, a dark top and bottoms, dark New Balance trainers, and was carrying a shoulder bag that was worn across his body.

The second man, who was said to have a slim build, was wearing a dark jacket, dark shoulder bag on one shoulder, dark hat with white writing, dark joggers and grey trainers.

Inspector David Black said "enquiries are ongoing to trace those responsible" and urged those with information, private CCTV or dashcam footage that could help the investigation to come forward.