Vandals force closure of popular graffiti zoo

2:33pm Monday 2nd June 2014

A GRAFFITI zoo on the walls of an abandoned old people’s home in Malmesbury has been shut down because of vandalism.

The giant animals sprayed by street artist Luke Hollingworth at Burnham House were a favourite with local families and brought visitors in to the town.

But security barriers have now been installed to prevent people from getting into the gardens of the Wiltshire Council-owned building, which closed six years ago when residents were moved to Athelstan House. It is due to be demolished and replaced with extra care flats for the elderly.

Sgt Martin Alvis said it was a pity, because the animals themselves were great, but the police were now receiving daily calls warning of vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

“Sadly the site has become too dangerous for visitors due to numerous insecurities and lots of broken glass from smashed windows.

“The custodians of the property have been asked to secure the site, but could I ask that in the interest of public safety and for the reduction of crime and disorder, that people keep away from the site.

“It's been great fun and put Malmesbury on the map for the right reason, but safety has to come first.”

He added: “We will be making patrols of the site from time to time.”

Luke, who is currently making his third attempt to win a national shed of the year contest with his Stencil Shed studio, said: “The zoo was so much fun to create and my heart has truly been warmed by all the chance meetings with happy people and their stories of going to the zoo.

“I’m saddened that the zoo is now off limits, but I quite like the idea of the animals all now being caged away from prying eyes.

“It’s just a shame that a minority of younger destructive rather than creative vandals have spoilt the fun for others.”

The reaction on Facebook from residents was of disappointment.

“It's been spoilt by vandals, there's broken glass everywhere, it's not safe,” wrote Julia Page.

Sarah Lewis added: “Such a shame. Lots of kids messing around there tho. Saw some in the building playing with a fire extinguisher and chucking things out the window.”

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