A POPULAR Worcestershire museum has been forced to close the day after it reopened for the first time in months following a 'heartbreaking' attack by vandals.

The Avoncroft Museum, which is run by a charity, is closed today because of the overnight attacks which left broken glass strewn across the attraction in Stoke Heath, near Bromsgrove. Yesterday was the first time the museum had opened since last November because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now it is closed again because of the attack.

The damage is expected to run into thousands of pounds but the community has rallied behind staff and volunteers at the museum, some even turning up with brooms. Their help, while very warmly welcomed, is not needed at the moment as staff are still waiting for the forensics team to carry out their investigations in the hope they can identify the culprits.

Managers of the independent charity are asking for donations to repair the damage which has been reported to West Mercia Police.

The interiors of the Toll House and Nailers Cottage have also been 'severely damaged with plates and ornaments smashed'.

The museum had only just reopened after being closed due to Covid-19.

Yesterday was the first day of reopening since last November.

Museum director Zoe Willems said on Facebook today: "Unfortunately we were subjected to a vandal attack yesterday evening - there is a lot of work to be done by police and forensics, and by our small team to clear up a lot of broken glass throughout the site, and it's just not safe to open.

"I know you'll be disappointed, and so are we - yesterday was such a lovely day, and today promised to be fine as well - we hope you'll book to visit us again in the near future.

If you have bought a ticket for today, we will be in touch shortly to reimburse you. Please don't call or e-mail - we will be in touch but we are just a very small team.

"Thank you for your understanding - and if you know of a local glazier or boarding up company who is available on a bank holiday Sunday, please message us. Any help greatly welcomed."

Speaking to the Worcester News today, Ms Willems said: "It's humbling how much support we have received through social media and lots of donations are now coming in. This is the third time we have been hit in two weeks. The damage is running into thousands of pounds. So many windows have been smashed. It's heartbreaking."

One of the windows damaged was an Edwardian shop front in the String of Horses building. However, Ms Willems said she was an optimist by nature and wished to say a huge thank you to all those who had offered help which she said had provided a 'silver lining' to the small number of staff and volunteers who look after the 19 acre site.

"Everybody has worked so hard. We have very few staff because of Covid-19. We had really pulled out all the stops to get everything ready to open. This place needs people and people want to come. People have a lot of affection for Avoncroft," she said. Staff had worked hard to get the museum open ready for the Bank Holiday weekend and it remains uncertain whether it will be ready to open again tomorrow.

Ms Willems said police had been 'extremely helpful' and had told her they would organise night patrols at the sight and that the dog unit was prepared to train there for additional security.