A LOCAL historian is set to appear on BBC1’s Antiques Roadshow this Sunday after an incredible story about his late father’s 1920s toy.
Stephen Brown, his daughter Rebecca and his son Samuel, traveled to Edinburgh for the shoot in July and presented the experts with an old American Marx tank, dating from the 1920s.
The rare item belonged to Stephen’s father, Albert – and the story of how it came to be in his possession after a family tragedy turned out to be a real heartbreak.
When Stephen’s grandmother, Netta, was seven months pregnant with Stephen’s father, her husband was killed in a mining accident.
This left her penniless with three young children and she moved to Glasgow to try and find work.
Stephen explained: “My father, only a baby at that time, was in the care of Netta’s sister, Isabella, in Portencross.
“When my uncle in Canada heard about this, he sent the chariot for my father as a gift.
“After a few months my father returned to his mother in Glasgow but contracted pneumonia and was sent back to the coast to recover.
“After spending time on the coast with Isabella’s children – Willie, Rita and Tabby – it was decided that he should be officially adopted into the Brown family and that he would never be told about his biological mother in Glasgow He was originally too young to play with the tank and he was put away.
“When Isabella died in the 1970s my father found out he had been adopted and he and I went to Glasgow to meet Netta. She immediately recognized him and told us how Isabella sent her pictures and information throughout the years.
“I was born in 1963 and I was not allowed to play with the chariot either. To protect it, my father loaned it to the Edinburgh Children’s Museum where it remained until his death. in 1991 and went to pick it up. ”
Stephen, 58, said it was a moving experience to share the remarkable story with the experts at Antiques Roadshow.
The man from West Kilbride added: “The staff were incredibly friendly. As it was during the lockdown, there were no crowds.
“We met Judith Miller, the famous antiques writer, and had the opportunity to chat briefly with Fiona Bruce.”
Stephen, who runs the Being West Kilbride website, said: “The experts seemed very impressed that the toy was in good working order given that it is over 90 years old.
“I have a lot of antiques and historical artifacts from West Kilbride but have always been intrigued by this particular toy.”
You can find out what the experts have done with the toy and its potential value by tapping into this weekend.
The show is also available on BBC iPlayer.