Historic Doncaster stone arch created by Queen Victoria’s sculptor reclaimed from drug dealer suspect

The unveiling of the Glassby Arch at the Almshouses site, Church Street, Mexborough. Giles Brearley, trustee of Mexborough Charity Trust
The unveiling of the Glassby Arch at the Almshouses site, Church Street, Mexborough. Giles Brearley, trustee of Mexborough Charity Trust

A grade two listed monument in Mexborough has been restored to its original glory after it was seized from an on-the-run suspected drug dealer.

The National Crime Agency said it found the five metre high Glassby Arch when it seized a house belonging to Maurice Turrall, who is evading British investigators and believed to be in Spain.

The Gothic arch was created in 1860 by Queen Victoria’s sculptor Robert Glassby, and was discovered in Turrall’s garden in 2013 when the NCA seized his house as part of a civil recovery order.

The NCA said Glassby built the arch for a local businessman, John Reed, and it remained in his garden for more than a century until the house ended up in the path of a new ring road.

A local councillor bought the arch and it was taken piece by piece to the house on Church Street, Mexborough, which would eventually become Turrall’s.

Andy Lewis, of the NCA, said: “The arch has had a dramatic history and that carried on even after we seized it as part of our civil recovery investigation.”

An NCA spokesman said the wanted man tried to sell it on eBay, with a starting price of £1, 100, but Doncaster Council granted a preservation order.

Last year two men tried to dismantle the arch but police tracked them down and the missing pieces were returned.

The men were each given a police caution.

Mr Lewis added: “While we were in the process of sorting out where it would be moved to, someone Turrall owed money to tried to steal it and hold it for ransom.

“Turrall lost his personal wealth because we were able to prove that his property was linked to criminal activity.

“The NCA will use all its powers to pursue the assets of criminals, but we are usually talking about cars, houses, jewellery and bank accounts. We don’t often take possession of something which is so clearly meaningful to a community and we are glad to have had the opportunity to help return it.”

The arch was gifted to the people of Mexborough by the NCA and its restoration was secured by the Mexborough Charitable Trust. It has now been restored by local stonework specialists GL Beale Contractors Ltd.

Heritage enthusiasts unveiled the arch on Friday at its new home close to the former almshouses in Church Street - the site where Robert Glassby was born in 1835.