Make a bid for treasured toys today

It was the sort of magical Christmas present that children could only gaze at in shop windows and dream about. But today, those forlorn children of 40 years ago will be making up for past disappointments.

It was the sort of magical Christmas present that children could only gaze at in shop windows and dream about.

But today, those forlorn children of 40 years ago will be making up for past disappointments. And the clockwork train sets that were far beyond the limits of their pocket money are now must-haves for the middle-aged men who will drive to Beccles from across the country.

The toy auction at Durrants features 120 lots from a single seller, aeronautics professor John E Allen, who filled his Blythburgh house with train sets. Now 86, his collection started when he was just 18 months old and while many of his toys are much-loved, others have spent their whole lives in boxes. It is those that are most valuable, and the star attraction today is a 1950s 0-gauge clockwork Bassett-Lowke Ltd model of a British Railways 4-4-0 with tender, which has never been used. It is expected to fetch into four figures because of the rare combination of its age and mint condition.

The oldest item is a Bing 0-gauge Great Western locomotive, dating back to 1922, which was Prof Allen's first ever train, bought by his father.


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He said: "I have had my use from them. I have had them for 85 years and they haven't done me any harm, which is not bad going. I am moving to somewhere smaller, my sons are 55 and don't need that sort of thing and my grandchildren have other interests."

Miles Lamdin, general manager at Durrants, said that the buyers were making up for lost time.

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"They are having the toys they couldn't afford as children.

"I remember as a boy I would go down to the shop with my pocket money and I would look through the shop window and I wouldn't be able to afford a train so I would buy a set of buffers or something instead.

"My brother collects trains but when he was a child he would have to wait for Christmas and birthdays, and even then he would only get one train. Now he can get one every week.

"These are men in their 50s and their children have left home, they have paid off the mortgage, they have money to spend."

Today's sale is full of names that will bring back memories - a Hornby Dublo gauge Venice Orient Express, unused and still in its box, a Triang Railways R855 Flying Scotsman, and a Hornby 00-gauge Mallard locomotive and tender.

People from as far afield as Glasgow and Surrey are expected to bid for the toys, most of which will never leave their boxes.

For those not interested in trains, there is a 1960 Coronation Street jigsaw, 1950s Dinky toys and a Corgi 007 Aston Martin.

The auction takes place at the Peddars Lane auction rooms starting at 10.30am and items can be viewed from 8am.

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