Hunt is on near Preston for missing blue plaque unscrewed from wall of village pub

As whodunits go the disappearance of a blue plaque from the wall of an old pub is hardly a Sherlock Holmes mystery.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 3:45 pm

But the case of the vanishing nameplate commemorating England' s oldest surviving charitable society is still puzzling the villagers of Broughton three years after it went missing.

The historic pub, best-known as the Golden Ball, but later the Touch of Spice Indian restaurant, has now bitten the dust - flattened to make way for two blocks of retirement homes.

Yet the blue plaque, marking it out as the birthplace of the Broughton Catholic Charitable Society (BCCS), is long gone too, unscrewed from the building before the bulldozers arrived.

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The missing blue plaque which vanished almost three years ago.

"It just vanished into thin air," said Peter Van Parys, secretary of the 235-year-old charity. "Since then no-one has been able to shed any light on where it went or who has got it.

"It's a real mystery and one we would like to solve if we can. The plaque is hugely important to us and is something we would love to get back."

The society was founded in 1787 for the relief of poverty after a smallpox epidemic ravaged the area. Following the outbreak many people were left destitute and were helped by donations of food and money.

The first meeting of society members and priests was in the Golden Ball pub on May 6, 1787.

The Golden Ball pub before it was converted to an India restaurant.

The blue plaque was put up on the external wall of the building in 2005. It read: "Broughton Catholic Charitable Society, founded in this building (then the Golden Ball Hotel) for the relief of local poverty, on May 6th 1787."

Coun Pat Hastings, chair of the Broughton Parish Council, appealed for the public's help to find the missing plaque.

She said the nameplate was "saved by an unknown person" when the former pub was demolished.

She added that the owners of the site had "agreed to take it down and store it and put it up o the new building. But it was removed before they could do that.

The building's last use was as an Indian restaurant before it was knocked down to make way for retirement homes.

"They are still happy to put it up on the new building. But, before the parish council buys a new one, could we see if anyone knows where it is?"