Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Arrest after 50s car museum blaze

One of the vehicles damaged in the fire
One of the vehicles damaged in the fire

A 46-year-old man has been arrested after a suspicious fire at a museum, which is believed to have destroyed a classic car collection.

A 56-year-old man was taken to hospital by ambulance as a precaution following the fire at the Cae Dai Museum in Lawnt, Denbigh, Denbighshire.

The blaze broke out just after 2300 GMT on Tuesday.

Cae Dai houses a collection of 1950s vehicles including a Cadillac and a lorry used in the Great Train Robbery.

North Wales Police confirmed the fire was being treated as suspicious, and a man was arrested on Wednesday morning.

The museum building suffered extensive damage and a caravan nearby was completely destroyed.

"It is believed that all the vehicles were destroyed in the fire," said a spokesman for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Museum sign (library)
The museum has articles from the 1950s, as well as classic cars

A joint investigation into the cause of the fire is being conducted by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and North Wales Police.

Firefighters from Denbigh, St Asaph, Rhyl and Ruthin worked through the night to put out the fire, which they finished damping down just before 0530 GMT.

County safety officer Alun Edwards said that when crews arrived to tackle the blaze they did not realise that the vehicles inside the building were of such high quality.

"The main problem we had was that the building was in danger of collapse," he said.

The museum is the lifetime collection of the Cae Dai Trust's director Sparrow Harrison.

Most of the exhibits have been collected by him while the rest have been donated or acquired locally.

In 2003 Cae Dai hosted a talk by Bruce Reynolds, who took part in the Great Train Robbery.

He was one of a 20-strong team - including Buster Edwards and Ronnie Biggs - who stole £2.3m from a Glasgow-to-London mail train in 1963.

A car at the museum (library photo from 2005)
One of the cars at the museum, pictured in 2005

Cae Dai is described on its website as a "passage through time". Its kitchen cupboards are stock-piled with tinned food, preserved fruit, packets of tea and homeopathic remedies from the 40s and 50s.

It also has a mocked-up 50s kitchen, lounge, caravans and a repair garage.

The museum also houses a collection of cars from the 50s including a Cadillac and a pink Cresta.

Ration books, magazines and newspapers, sports items and a police car from the ITV Heartbeat series are also on display.

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