Delight as stolen visitors’ books signed by Queen Victoria returned to Portsmouth

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RELIEF John Alderson, general manager at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth, with the clubs two historical visitors’ books which have been returned after they were stolen. Below, the royal signatures. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Devastated members of the Royal Maritime Club in Queen Street, Portsea, told how the vanishing of the books containing Queen Victoria’s signature had left them reeling.

John Alderson general manager at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth with the club's two historical visitors' books. 
Picture: Ian Hargreaves

John Alderson general manager at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth with the club's two historical visitors' books. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

John Alderson, general manager, said he all but gave up hope of ever seeing the two books again.

But now he is delighted after receiving a phone call on Friday, June 10, from Gatwick police telling him the two books had been found.

Mr Alderson told The News: ‘They’re back where they belong.

‘They were part of the club’s history and they were stolen on my watch, which really upset me at the time.

‘It’s brilliant from the police, they need a big thank you. I thought they were long gone.’

Prince Edward had signed the books in a visit just weeks before they were taken, between Friday, October 17 and Wednesday, October 22 in 2014.

At the time, fears were raised they had been sold or offered to a collector.

But Mr Alderson, who also praised Portsmouth police, revealed they were believed to be in Turkey for much of the time.

He said: ‘The books have been out of the country for two, two and a half years. Gatwick port police have recovered the books.

‘They’re dating back to the 1800s, they’ve got Queen Victoria and King George V’s signatures in the original one and then a more up to date one, they’ve got Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew.

‘Prince Edward signed them, it was shortly after that they were stolen.’

n Martin Richardson, of Thrush Walk, in Waterlooville, has been charged with theft by employee and was bailed to Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on July 13.