Bunting enthusiasts are facing a race against time in their world record attempt after a 250-metre stretch of material went missing less than 48 hours after being erected.
Eight volunteers hung the bunting on Cragg Road, Cragg Vale, on Saturday as a trial run for plans to decorate the route for next summer’s Tour de France and break the record for a continuous stretch of bunting, which currently stands at 2.93 miles.
But by Monday morning the majority of the bunting had disappeared, with only 15 feet of material left on display.
Sharon le Corre, a member of Cragg Vale’s bunting group, said: “I cannot say how upset and disappointed we are that someone has taken it down.
“So many people gave their time and effort to make the bunting and then to put it up along a straight stretch of Cragg Road as a trial effort for next year.
“Everyone who saw it over the weekend said how lovely it looked.
“This will not deter us from completing our task of making the world record. In fact, it has made us even more determined.
“We would ask that people get behind us and ensure that these vandals don’t win.”
Last weekend’s trial run was the latest step in the plan to hang bunting along Cragg Road for next year’s Grand Depart on July 6, starting at the sign which indicates that the road is the longest single gradient in England.
It took around 90 minutes to attach the stretch of bunting to telegraph poles at around 15 feet high, using a cherry-picker provided by Chris Bingham, of Craggs Energy.
“The idea was for us to learn from this,” Sharon said.
“We wanted to discover what will be the best height, how taut the bunting needs to be, and how and when to sew different lengths together.
“Of course we had a few problems but overall it went well and we can definitely learn from it.
“The last thing we expected was for someone to take it away.”
Many local groups and individuals have already made contributions, including a visitor from South Africa who stopped off at Cragg Vale’s Robin Hood pub during a holiday and heard about the idea.
Sharon said: “At this stage we’re not saying what length of bunting we can make, but we hope to be able to break the record.”
She added that if anybody finds the missing bunting, they can leave it at the Robin Hood pub, no questions asked.
Any groups or individuals who would like to contribute bunting towards the record attempt are asked to get in touch via emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.