VOLUNTEERS have been left “disheartened” after vandals trashed a much-loved model railway at Coate Water.

Members of the North Wilts Model Engineering Society (NWMES), who run the popular miniature railway at the country park, will have to rebuild a scale model platelayer’s hut and water hydrant after they were destroyed on Monday evening.

The chairman of the voluntary group, David Hawkins, chased a gang of teenagers from the site at around 6.30pm.

Stephen Bidwell, a NWMES committee member, said: “We have had a certain amount of damage done in the past but it’s a long time since anything significant. It was after it had closed and so it was lucky someone was still around.

“The model had only been there a matter of weeks and it’s a good day’s work to repair it. It is like a substantial garden shed in miniature form.

“The remains have been taken away so that the builder can make a new one. He has also made two others.

The miniature railway at Coate Water is five eighths of a mile long and was opened in 1963.

The damage has not affected the track and will not mean the popular attraction has to close over the Easter period.

Yesterday a police spokesman confirmed officers were looking into the incident as criminal damage.

Anyone with any information should contact Wiltshire Police on 0845 408 7000 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.