COMMUNITY representatives are hoping to return a historic visitors’ book featuring the signatures of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to Helensburgh after it appeared for auction in the south of England.

The artefact was spotted by Phil Worms, who founded the Helensburgh Heroes project and was alerted to its listing among an online sale hosted by Chaucer Auctions in Folkestone, Kent.

With a starting price of £800 the item was set to go under the hammer on Thursday evening (May 27) - but after Phil notified members of Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) and the Helensburgh Heritage Trust, the groups managed to persuade the auctioneer to withdraw the book.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Helensburgh Town Council visitors' bookHelensburgh Town Council visitors' book

It is hoped that an agreement can now be reached in order to keep it in safe local hands.

The visitors’ book dates from the post-war period of Helensburgh Town Council, which was dissolved in 1975 with the town becoming part of Dumbarton District Council, which in turn was later superseded in part by the current West Dunbartonshire Council - and in Helensburgh’s case by Argyll and Bute Council.

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Local historian and HCC member Stewart Noble, who is also treasurer of the Heritage Trust, noted several key names and dates from the now removed online listing, including the Queen and her late husband Prince Philip, the Queen’s late sister Princess Margaret, and Sir Anthony Eden, who succeeded Winston Churchill as UK Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh signed the bookThe Queen and Duke of Edinburgh signed the book

Stewart told a meeting of the community council: “We suggested we might be interested in buying [the book], so I sent some emails firstly to thank the auction house for acceding to our request and secondly to say that in four weeks’ time I’m going down to visit my daughter in Sevenoaks in Kent and I may just jump on a train there and go down to Folkestone to have a look at the thing myself.

“The auctioneer did say that there had been quite a lot of interest in it and he was quite hopeful that it would’ve sold for £1,500.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Other notable names are included tooOther notable names are included too

“He acquired it as part of a job lot from a collector; the collector in turn had got it from someone called Angie Harper who was resident in Spain. Who Angie Harper was I have not a clue, how she got it I do not know, but the collector sold it to the auction house.

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“The collector who sold it to the auction house had believed that it had perhaps been the property of the last mayor of Helensburgh, although in Scotland we don’t have mayors.

“The last provost of Helensburgh was Norman Glen, who I knew very well, and he would never have parted with an item like this and almost certainly would’ve told his family not to.”

In an article on the Helensburgh Heritage Trust’s website Norman Glen, who died in 2002 and was honorary president of the group at the time, is quoted as saying: “I am terribly sad that the town council is ceasing to exist. I really feel that the Burgh is losing something which is not being replaced in the way I would like to see it.”

Provost Glen had described the break-up of the town council as a “moment of sadness” but also “a moment of pride” in its achievements over the 173 years since its creation in 1802.