Widow amazed to discover husband's 'secret' vintage model railway collection which could be worth up to £30,000

A widow was taken aback to discover after her husband's death that he had accumulated a gigantic collection of vintage Hornby Dublo, worth an estimated £20,000 to £30,000.

Adrian Batty who had amassed an incredible model railway collection

Unbeknown to Jane Batty, former pest control chief at Hull Council Adrian Batty had amassed a huge collection over 30 years, leaving a room so packed it was difficult to get more than a few steps inside.

But Mr Batty, who died last April, probably never ran a train around a loop of track, because although he had the boards, he never did a layout, she said.

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Over 130 locomotives, thousands of items of rolling stock and an extraordinary range of rare trackside accessories are going under the hammer on Thursday at Scarborough auctioneers David Duggleby.

Auctioneer Graham Paddison cataloguing one of the later sets of Hornby Dublo, collected by the late Adrian Batty

"I knew a bit but I didn't know how much he had collected. His sister was shocked by the volume as well. I think he did it when I wasn't in," said Mrs Batty.

"He had lots of boxes that were in plastic boxes, so you couldn't see what was in them and they lined the walls. It was one of those rooms where everything got dumped."

A catalogue - found by Mrs Batty and her relatives after going through box after box - revealed exactly where they had been bought, their condition and for how much.

She thinks he bought them to relive his childhood - and have a collection that his mother wouldn't let him have.

In virtually mint condition the Hornby Dublo - three-rail Castle Class 4-6-0 locomotive 'Ludlow Castle' No.5002 could fetch £250 to £350

She said: "He had an amazing train set when he was a kid - his dad worked at British Aerospace as an engineer. He set it up so it had electric lights and it was really beautiful. Then his mum got cross as he left it out for too long and she sold it while he wasn't there - I don't think he ever forgave her."

Specialist Graham Paddison aid the collection, which spans the entire 25-year Hornby Dublo period, from its launch in 1938 through to the early 1960s, was “just one gem after another”.

He said: “It is an extraordinary story and it is by a country mile, the most extraordinary private collection we’ve ever seen.

“Mr. Batty was dedicated and knowledgeable. He hunted down the rarest items, in the finest condition, meticulously recording the details in his inventory – including whether he had bagged a bargain or paid over the odds.”

One of more than 200 lots going up for auction - Hornby Dublo - four coaches in Export boxes comprising 4070 (4220) Restaurant Car Estimate £150 - £250

The collection includes no fewer than eight versions of the world steam record holder Mallard, five versions of Sir Nigel Gresley, six Silver Kings, two Golden Fleeces and a Golden Eagle.

There's also Castle Class, Duchess Class, West Country Class and even Canadian Railways locomotives, as well as Deltic and Diesel Electric models and fifty tank locomotives of various ages and types. Rarities include a Southern Railway 0-6-2 tank locomotive set in a malachite green colour, rather than the usual olive, with two wagons, a guards van, a quantity of track and a controller estimated at £350-£450.

The catalogue is available on the Internet (davidduggleby.com). Viewing at the Vine Street Salerooms in Scarborough is Wednesday 10am-6pm and Thursday from 9am until the start of the auction at 11am. The sale is to be webcast, with online bidding through DD Live and thesaleroom.com.