More than 100 protesters from the Frinton Gates Preservation Society arrived at the site of the historic Frinton level crossing gates on Saturday morning to demonstrate against their planned removal. But on arrival they found Network Rail had already dismantled the gates at 2am that morning. The group has been fighting the plans to replace the manually operated barriers with an automated system for the past three years.
Why the protest?
The group believes the gates, on the town council's official crest, are part of the town's heritage and have protected it from turning into a 'madhouse' seaside resort - arcades, amusements and ice cream stalls are still banned from the seafront. It also believes replacing the gates will make the crossing dangerous.
How did Network Rail respond?
Network Rail said the change, part of a £100m upgrade of the line, would improve safety. It said it 'appreciated the importance of the gates' and would donate them to the local community.
How did the media cover it?
The Sunday Telegraph was sympathetic to the residents' group. It focused on Network Rail's decision to remove the gates 'in the dead of the night'. Likewise, the Daily Mail wrote: 'A piece of railway history disappears overnight.' The Ipswich Evening Star also talked of the 'fury' over the removal of the gates.