Hundreds of vintage bikes destroyed in museum fire

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Irreplaceable vintage motorcycles were destroyed last night when fire swept through the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, Birmingham.

More than 650 bikes worth an estimated £8m were lost in the blaze, which broke out shortly before 5pm while as many as 100 people were attending a function at the museum. Staff and guests attempted to remove the 900-strong collection from the heritage site building, but they were able to save only 250 bikes because of the severity of the blaze, which spread rapidly and could be seen from 15 miles away.

Staff at the museum were said to be "absolutely devastated" at the loss of the bikes, which were among the fastest and most expensive in the world.

A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: ""They are all old bikes and they are completely irreplaceable. It is dreadful. Part of our heritage has been destroyed."

The National Motorcycle Museum chronicled the history of the motorcycle industry with collections of vintage bikes ranging from the 1935 Ariel Square Four to the 1970s Triumph Racers.

Fire service investigators and police were at the scene to identify the cause of the blaze.