CLASSICS WORTH £100K DESTROYED IN AIRFIELD FIRE –ARSON SUSPECTED
Police investigation launched after collectors’ garage units go up in flames
M ore than £100,000 worth of classics have been destroyed in a fire in Scotland. It is thought that at least 15 cars were lost in the suspected arson attack, which also burnt out a car restoration and storage business.
The rows of garages affected are on a former World War II airfield located in Drem, near North Berwick, East Lothian. Mechanics and collectors who rented their units from the company, DC Watson, are now desperately seeking alternative premises – although 95% of tools left in the units are now useless.
The owner of the units at Fenton Barns, a major agricultural site,
‘ We plan to rebuild the units, but the costs will run into many thousands’ SITE OWNER DC WATSON
Keith Chalmers-Watson says: ‘ We plan to rebuild the units, but the costs will be huge – many thousands.’
A Citroën CX Familiale, various Volkswagens including a Beetle, BMWs, a Ford Thames van, a Mazda MX-5 and an early FX4 Fairway black taxicab in mint condition were all wrecked beyond repair.
Owner of the cab, Robin Farrer, is an enthusiast who is also an Edinburgh cabbie. He says he had brought the FX4 to near concours condition with luxury additions.
Farrer also attended rallies with it regularly, as a member of LVTA (London Vintage Taxi Association). He says: ‘It’s devastating. The cab is totally destroyed – but LVTA members are rallying round to try to find me a replacement.’
Mechanic Ryan Bathgate was a tenant in one of the eight units, and used the premises for repair, restoration and storage. He says: ‘I estimate the total loss of eight cars in my unit at more than £30,000. I live near the site in East Linton, and I now badly need to find another location to run my business from.’
Firefighters worked all day on 5 December to control the blaze, and the adjacent B-road remained closed until the following day. The fire is subject to a police investigation. DC Morrison of Dalkeith CID says: ‘Due to the suspicious nature of this incident, investigations are proceeding.’ Gregor Robertson
The Beetle in the foreground is one of several VWs on-site. The fire took out several adjoining workshops.
The charred remains of a Mazda MX-5 in one of the burnt-out units.