MEMORABILIA celebrating former prime minister William Gladstone is to go under the hammer.

An oak wheelbarrow and a silver portrait bust of the Hawarden politician are expected to fetch more than £25,000 when they go to auction.

The rare items are being sold by private owners through prestigious London auction house, Bonhams, later this month.

The one-of-a-kind wheelbarrow, made by Walker and Hall Silversmiths in Sheffield has silver handle grips and engraved silver covers on the feet.

It also comes with a silver shovel which was used to cut the first sod of the Wirral Railway from Hawarden Bridge to Birkenhead in 1892.

Michael Moorcroft, head of silver at Bonhams auction house, said: “This is really quite interesting in the silver world because the shovel is still bent where it went into the earth.

“The event was covered by The Gentleman's Magazine which contains a drawing of Gladstone cutting the earth.

“It’s not often you get to see a drawing or a photograph of the antique being used so its makes this all the more special.

“It was presented to Gladstone and later sold by him or his heirs.”

A 10-cm silver portrait bust of Gladstone is also up for sale and is expected to raise around £900.

Mr Moorcroft added: “The bust would have been produced in large numbers so it is not as valuable as the wheelbarrow.

“It was a Victorian tradition to collect busts and a lot were made of Queen Victoria.

“It was a way of people buying into the government.

“This was brought in at the last minute by a man who thought it was Benjamin Disraeli but I knew straight away it was Gladstone.”

Hawarden councillor Clive Carver is hoping the antiques can be brought back and exhibited in the village.

He said: “These are things that should be collected and retained, especially considering that Gladstone spent much of his life in Hawarden.

“The newly renamed Gladstone Library would be the perfect home for them.

“Let’s hope somebody local makes a bid.”

- The Gentleman’s Library Sale takes place at Bonhams on New Bond Street, London, on January 19.

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