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Chapel blaze being treated as arson

One of the Lawrence family graves with the cemetery chapel, as it was before, in the background. By Sally Hewes, of Sally Hewes Photography

One of the Lawrence family graves with the cemetery chapel, as it was before, in the background. By Sally Hewes, of Sally Hewes Photography

The ferocious blaze which destroyed Eastwood’s historic cemetery chapel is now officially being investigated as arson.

In the early hours of last Wednesday morning (April 9), firefighters were called to the landmark building off Chewton Street.

Flames had engulfed the structure and it took 25 firefighters more than six hours to bring the fire under control.

The building was left as a charred shell with just exterior stone walls and blackened rafters remaining.

A file has been passed to the police by the fire service and officers have confirmed that the case is being investigated as arson.

It is thought that someone had got into the building before the fire started just before 2 am.

A sniffer dog has been used to check for signs of the use of an accelerant.

Anyone saw anyone acting suspiciously around the chapel before the blaze is asked to get in touch with police on 101 or call the free and confidential Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

After the fire, the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, Cllr Milan Radulovic (Lab). said: “There will be a full investigation into the cause of the fire but until that investigation is complete we cannot speculate on what started the blaze.

“Sadly, the building is seriously affected but fortunately, no individuals were involved and the surrounding site and graves are intact.

“I am extremely upset to see this historic building so badly damaged and the council will look very carefully into the possibility of saving the building or whether it will be forced to demolish the chapel.”

Cllr Radulovic added that if the fire was started deliberately, especially by local people, he hopes they are caught and dealt with quickly as this sort of behaviour is “totally unacceptable”.

Family members of Eastwood’s most famous son, the author DH Lawrence, are in the cemetery where the chapel is situated.

These include the writer’s mother, Lydia, his father Arthur and brother William.

Calls have been made for the building to be saved as it is part of the town’s history and survived two World Wars.

Eastwood fire crew manager Jonathon Booth, in last week’s paper, said that if it was arson ‘some little ratbag had got rid of the building’ in ten minutes.

 

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