Thieves struck at dead of night to steal flagstones from outside a grade II listed building.

The flagstones were dug up outside 112 Market Street, Westhoughton, which is better known as Sunny Bank, on Thursday morning.

The building, along with adjoining South View, was built in 1853 for local cotton manufacturer Peter Ditchfield. 

Now used by businesses, they are owned by James Industrial Limited, whose director is Bolton Wanderers board member Michael James. 

The Bolton News: The gap left by the missing flagsThe gap left by the missing flags (Image: Public)

Mark Groves, a property manager at the company, said: "A tenant came in yesterday morning and alerted us, as they were in before me and Reece. 

"They asked if we were having building work done! We have CCTV footage of it, the activity started at 3.15am yesterday. 

"It is weird, he takes one section of stone off and disappears up Church Street with it. 

"He doesn't come back until 4.10am, having been missing for almost an hour... comes back and starts taking more through Ditchfield Gardens." 

The Bolton News: Grade II listed Sunny Bank and South ViewGrade II listed Sunny Bank and South View (Image: Newsquest)

He added: "It's just annoying, because we think they are the original flags from the late 1800s when the properties were built, it just detracts from the authenticity. 

"Our boss has done his best to maintain the originality of the building going back to the low walls, the coping and the old steel railings, and then you get someone who does that." 

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Fellow property manager, Reece Cullen, said: "He was involved in the heritage sign outside the building. He is proud of the building and of Westhoughton." 

Mark added: "When we changed the walls, we did a lot of work with reclamation companies around the North West, trying to find copings. 

The Bolton News: Heritage plaque outside the buildingsHeritage plaque outside the buildings (Image: Newsquest)

"I imagine we will go to some of those now, trying to find older flags.

"Reece had to make it safe for people to walk in and out of the offices, I was dealing with the police, downloading footage, time that we could have been dealing with other business." 

Ward councillor, David Chadwick, said: "Someone has rocked up and pinched four flagstones from the garden of the property. 

"The owner has done a brilliant job and spent money on the buildings. 

"You don't expect somebody to just turn up and pinch it, but it is a sign of the times." 

The Bolton News: Works to bridge the gapWorks to bridge the gap (Image: Newsquest)

Cllr Chadwick added that there have been similar attempts to steal flagstones in the town, but not for a few years. 

This comes after police warned residents in Halliwell to be vigilant following Yorkstone thefts last summer

Thefts occurred on Astley Street, Norton Street, St Augustine Street, Cloister Street and Wilmot Street. 

No arrests have yet been made in relation to this incident, according to Greater Manchester Police.