Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion launched af­ter col­lec­tors’ garage units go up in flames

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News -

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.

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