Historic bows could be hidden in Norwich

A collection of historic violin bows worth �110,000 could be hidden in Norwich after being stolen on a train from London.

Instrument restorer Pete Oxley was on the 3pm London to Norwich train last Monday, travelling to his parents' home in Bury St Edmunds.

The next day the world-renowned craftsman had planned to meet with a buyer for the rare items in Cambridge.

But after a long day travelling he fell asleep and woke up in Ipswich, where he was due to change trains. After grabbing his things and making his way to his next train he noticed his brown, metre-long bow box was missing.

At the next station he switched to a Norwich train to chase the carriage he had left, but found no sign of his box when he arrived. Mr Oxley, 49, from Oxford, said that if it was not stolen somewhere from London to Ipswich as he slept then it must have been taken by someone who got off at Diss or Norwich.

'To say it was a shock is a bit of an understatement,' he said.

'It's terrible. It's the worst thing that's happened in my career of working with bows.

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The case contained 11 bows and was taken from the overhead luggage rack.

One of the bows, made by Pierre Simon in 1870, is worth �35,000 alone and all 11 are thought to be worth �110,000.

One bow, a nickel-mounted item made by Etienne Pajeot, dates back almost two centuries to 1820.

'They're all unique. They're all bows that I can identify without any question because I've restored most of them,' said Mr Oxley.

'They're important things in the history of this craft. One of them would have a market value of �35,000 to �40,000. They are rare and much sought after by top soloists,' he added.

Because of the huge value and rarity of the bows he is offering a �5,000 reward for their safe return.

Mr Oxley said his worst fear is that they would end up 'thrown in a ditch' by someone who did not know their true value.

Det Con Alan Reed, of the British Transport Police, said: 'While these are extremely valuable items, it would be extremely difficult to sell them on to a third party.'

'Anyone who works in the antiques trade or musical instrument business is asked to contact us if they are approached by anyone selling items that match the bows' description.'

A spokesman from National Express said: 'This matter has been reported to the British Transport Police who are continuing with their investigations.'

t Do you know the whereabouts of the bows? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439 or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk