A LOCOMOTIVE discovered in a cottage that backed on to the original Stockton to Darlington railway could be the oldest toy engine in the world.

Experts were stumped for a value when Tom Robson took the model engine to the Antiques Roadshow valuation day at Seaton Delaval, Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, in July.

Antiques expert Paul Atterbury, who could barely contain his excitement, said the train, which may have been made by a father for his son in the 1820s or 1830s, was worth anything from £20 to £5,000.

Mr Robson said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took it to the Antiques Roadshow.

It is such a naive and crude toy and was just something I liked the look off.

“I’m not in any hurry to sell it. My son loved playing with it when he was a bairn and I’m now looking forward to my grandson, who is 18 months old, enjoying it. I’m not sure how much it’s worth – I suppose the person who wants to buy it is the one who places a true value on it.

“I love local history and the history of the railways. I think a father has knocked it together for his child. I reckon he has looked over his fence and made this after seeing one of the very first engines chugging by.”

Among the engines to run by the cottage in Shildon was Locomotion No 1, built by George and Robert Stephenson’s company in 1825. Four years later, the Stephensons created the pioneering Rocket.

The model remained in the County Durham family until Mr Robson, a teacher from Sunderland, bought it in the Sixties.

Mr Atterbury said: “It’s incredibly crude and made of reused components. A part of it looks like it was from a leg of a chair and another piece could be a stair banister.

“It’s old bits and pieces knocked together and it looks like a locomotive of the 1820- 30 period. I’m so excited – we are right at the birth of railways with this.

“The Stockton and Darlington Railway was opened in 1825. It’s not quite The Rocket, but it looks like it. It’s certainly based on a locomotive of that period. So, if this is recording those very early years of railway history, it’s an extraordinary document.”

The toy engine will feature in Sunday’s broadcast of the Antiques Roadshow, at 8pm on BBC1.