Valuable artefacts telling the history of a Pembrokeshire town have been put under threat after lead thieves targeted the roof of a local museum.

Haverfordwest Town Museum was hit by lead thieves on Wednesday, November 8, in what has been called a ‘disaster’ for the two-hundred-year-old building and its precious collection.

The thieved stripped metres of lead from the roof of the museum housed in the Grade Two listed Prison Governor's House at Haverfordwest Castle.

In doing so they have smashed the slate tiles on the roof and left wooden beams exposed.

November’s wet weather has meant that water has started to come in through the damaged roof, leaving precious historic artefacts vulnerable to damage.

Milford Mercury: Water damage to the top floor of the building has threatened valuable artefacts.

“There has been considerable water ingress into the three rooms on the upper floor,” said the museum’s curator, Dr Simon Hancock. “This has been disastrous for the museum. It has caused serious damage to this fine historic eighteenth- century building and potentially harmed our precious collection.”

Dr Hancock confirmed that an audit of the museum's contents has revealed that none of them have been directly damaged by the water. However the environmental conditions in the museum mean that they now have to be stored elsewhere.

The water damage has however caused significant structural damage to the building.

The museum has been closed since Spring this year as the whole castle area is being redeveloped by Pembrokeshire County Council as part of the Heart of Pembrokeshire project. It is expected to reopen at Castle House in 2025/26. In the meantime a pop up museum will open at Haverfordwest's Riverside.

The museum’s team of volunteers has worked hard to remove exhibits from the upper floors, where the water is coming in, with many artefacts being removed to Scolton Manor.

Dr Hancock said that the matter has been reported to the police and efforts to make the building watertight are ongoing.

Milford Mercury: Water damage to the top floor of the building mean that the ceilings will probably have to come

“Lead has been stripped wholesale from the roof of the Prison Governor's House and slates smashed leaving the wooden roof exposed,” said Dr Hancock.

“It has been imperative to remove all the artefacts so they are not damaged. The roof is still not watertight so efforts are ongoing to ensure this.”

Dr Hancock said that the extent of the damage to the structure of the building meant that some of the ceilings may need to come down before repairs can begin.

He thanked all those who had come to the museum’s aid during this disaster.

“We are so grateful to a number of people who have assisted during this emergency,” he said.

“These include the archaeologists from Dyfed Archaeological Trust who are currently excavating at the Castle and Darren Pearce and Daniel Evans from Pembrokeshire County Council.

“Mark Thomas and Cait Hilditch from Scolton Manor have been amazing in taking items for safe storage there.

“The building maintenance department of the council and Pembrokeshire County Council as a whole, who responded very swiftly to the incident “I am also extremely grateful to Morag Evans from the museum for her unfailing assistance.”

Dr Hancock said that the damage has been reported to the police. The Western Telegraph has contacted Dyfed-Powys Police for a comment.