FIVE teenagers have been arrested by police investigating damage to a piece of North-East railway heritage.

Shildon councillors threatened to cancel a £7m museum development after vandalism in the town square, which is dedicated to railway pioneer Timothy Hackworth.

Stone slabs were thrown into the Hackworth fountain, lampposts were buckled and bus shelter windows were smashed.

After studying closed-circuit television (CCTV) tapes from cameras in the square, police arrested four young people at their homes on Sunday and a fifth on Monday. All are aged between 14 and 18 and have been bailed to report to Newton Aycliffe police station in mid-January.

PC Mark Hall said more arrests could follow in the near future.

He said: "We made the arrests after studying CCTV tapes and after receiving calls from members of the public which confirmed our previous intelligence."

A spokesman for Sedgefield Borough Council, which is leading a project to bring the first offshoot of York's National Railway Museum to Shildon, in 2003, said: "We are delighted that the police have been able to study CCTV footage from Shildon that has helped in the arrest of several teenagers.

"The fact that the police have been able to act after viewing this footage only emphasises the importance that CCTV monitors can play in these issues."

Brian Stoker, chairman of Shildon Chamber of Trade, said: "I am very pleased that the cameras appear to be doing their job.

"Let's hope that this doesn't happen again after all the money that has been spent to rejuvenate the town."