There was a surprise recently for builders renovating The Boathouse at Instow when a rare toy truck was discovered in the debris

An antique clockwork toy car has been discovered by builders renovating The Boathouse at Instow.

The pub’s new owners Jan and Phil Hills were fascinated with the discovery of the 1920s car and now hope to learn more about the history of their new property.

The Hills also own The Seagate at Appledore and happened to have experts from the BBC show Antiques Road Trip staying with them.

They asked their opinion and were told it was a 1920s Moko German-made tin litho.

A close up of the toy truck found at The Boathouse at Instow and thought to date from the 1920s. Picture: Tony GussinA close up of the toy truck found at The Boathouse at Instow and thought to date from the 1920s. Picture: Tony Gussin

Jan said: “They said it was very rare and would have belonged to a wealthy family and would have been worth about $900 in perfect condition.

“It would be interesting to hear from anyone who knows about the history of the building and who lived there.”

The little truck was found by Barnstaple builders Riley & Guy, who are completely renovating The Boathouse for the Hills.

It is expected to reopen sometime in May as a pub-restaurant and intends to follow The Seagate’s dog-friendly motto of ‘muddy boots, dirty paws welcome’.

The layout inside will be changed, it will be fully accessible and they also plan to install an outside terrace on the top for people to sit and watch the world go by.

The toy vehicle was found in an alcove at the back that was used as a wine store.

Phil added: “What we will probably do is make a nice glass case and put it back in The Boathouse alongside a bit of the history with it.

“It was only by chance that people from the Antiques Road Trip were staying with us.”

Jan said: “It would be quite nice to put a bit of story with it when we put it in the box.

“We don’t know how old The Boathouse is. It must have been a house at some stage – I remember it as a shop about 40 years ago.”

If you know who the child was who might have played with the toy truck, or anything about The Boathouse and the family who lived there in the 1920s, you can email Jan and Phil via or call the Gazette on 01271 345056 and we’ll put you in touch.

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