AN ANTIQUE sign on a Cowley bridge has been removed over fears it could be targeted by thieves hunting for scrap metal.
Hillingdon Council has taken down the weight restriction sign on Robbie Bell Bridge, in Pield Heath Road, and is set to replace it with a replica.
It comes after more than 250 metal drain covers were stolen from across the borough last year as well as a number of valuable lead panels from the roof of Barra Hall, the council owned listed-building in Wood End Green Road, Hayes, as the price of scrap metal continues to rise.
To combat future thefts the manhole cover replacements are heavy duty plastic rather than metal and have no scrap value, and the Barra Hall roof was replaced with lead substitute.
The weight sign on the bridge was placed there by Middlesex County Council, which was the local authority before the borough council came into existence in 1965.
The bridge was renamed in 1989 after eight-year-old Robbie Bell was hit by a car and killed in August 1987.
Council leader, Ray Puddifoot, said: “We have taken the decision to remove the sign in order to keep it safe, and at some point in the future we would like to display it along with other Hillingdon memorabilia.”
The original will be kept in the borough archive until a secure venue to display the sign has been found, he said.
The sign reads: “Take notice that this bridge (which is a county bridge) is insufficient to carry weights beyond the ordinary traffic of the district, and that owners and persons in charge of locomotive tractor engines and heavily laden carriages are warned against using the bridge for the passage of such engines and carriages.”
It is signed by Richard Nicholson, clerk of the peace.
In January 2011, a Brunel University student smashed his car through the bridge parapet in the early hours of the morning when over the drink drive limit.
He was later fined and banned. The sign had to be fished out of the River Pinn.