A LETTER written by one half of a legendary comedy duo, who went to school in Bishop Auckland, will go under the hammer next week.

The signed and dated note from Stan Laurel was sent to the family of childhood friend Margaret Miller in 1960, 70 years after the star went to school with her husband Arthur, in Tynemouth, when they were both young boys.

The letter, on letterhead paper from Mr Laurel’s address at 849 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, California, is dated March 24 and thanks Mrs Miller for her belated Christmas card calendar.

The letter is being sold at Anderson & Garland’s Fine Art & Antiques sale on Tuesday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 17 by Mrs Miller’s daughter, also called Margaret, who is now 88 and lives in Hexham.

She said: “My father and Stan Laurel were at school together in Tynemouth in the 1890s. Stan’s family lived in North Shields and my father’s family knew them quite well.

“My father and Stan used to travel on the train together to King’s School, which was known as Tynemouth School back then.”

Stan Laurel, who was born in Ulverston, in Cumbria, in 1890, attended school in Bishop Auckland, before moving to Tyneside and eventually finishing his education in Glasgow.

He travelled to the US with a music hall troupe that also included Charlie Chaplin, where he performed during the First World War, before teaming up with comedy partner Oliver Hardy in the 1920s.

The pair went on to make more than 100 films together over the next 30 years.

Laurel was known for his friendliness; his phone number was listed in the telephone directory and he was happy to speak to fans who called.

Miss Miller said: “My parents were going to the States on holiday and hoped to meet up with him. I don’t think they did, and I imagine that’s why my mother sent the calendar to him because he didn’t get to see it.

“I’ve only had it since my brother died, and it turned up when I moved house,” said Miss Miller.

The letter, which comes with its original airmail envelope, will be sold on the first day of the auction for between £300 and £500.

Anderson & Garland auctioneer Fred Wyrley-Birch said: “We expect people interested in Stan Laurel’s North-East connections, as well as autograph collectors, to be among the bidders. It may well create a bit of a frenzy.”