One of Britain's first artificial Christmas trees is set to go under the hammer at an Etwall auction – nearly 90 years after it was first made.

The Christmas tree was unearthed from a box in the garage of Diana Rigby's home and is around 3ft 6ins tall, has just seven sparse sets of branches and dates back to the 1930s.

Even with a bauble or two it's a modest affair, but the rare tree once took pride of place at Diana's family home when she was growing up.

Diana with her tree

"It was my parents' pride and joy," said Diana, who lives in Derby but grew up in Manchester. "It used to come out every Christmas and it was the main family tree.

"I don't remember much about those days, or how it was decorated, but my mother told me I once thrashed the tree around when I was very little because I was angry that she'd put the baubles on without me."

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Luckily, it survived to tell the tale and the tree is now approaching 90 years old. It still has all its branches intact, although a little rickety in places, and stands on a strong wooden base decorated in festive style.

"I think it was bought at Woolworths for sixpence," said retired bank clerk Mrs Rigby, from Derby, who has decided to sell the tree at Hansons Auctioneers to raise money for children's Cancer Research.

The tree’s branches are decorated with real feathers, dyed green, and berries

"I haven't used it for years, I've just kept it boxed up in the garage," said Mrs Rigby, who has two grown-up daughters and three grandchildren.

"Over the years, I've always liked to have a traditional real Christmas tree – it was probably a reaction against the artificial one."

After Woolworths started selling some of the first artificial trees in the 1920s, British-based Addis Housewares Company followed suit 10 years later and created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles. The company used the same machinery it employed to manufacture toilet brushes.

The very first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century and were made using goose feathers dyed green.

The branches on Mrs Rigby's tree are decorated with the occasional real feather, dyed a deep green.

"I hope an antique collector or someone who likes old toys may buy the tree and help me raise some money for charity," said Mrs Rigby. "I keep reading sad stories about children being ill so I want to sell the tree and put the money raised to good use."

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, will be auctioning the tree on November 23 and hopes people will dig deep for a good cause.

He said: "It's a humble tree and a humble story but now's the time, nearly a century after it was made, for this tree to shine brightly and be an evergreen charity star in our saleroom."

The artificial Christmas tree will be sold on November 23, 2017, at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, and has an estimate of £40-£60. To find out more, email service@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk or call 01283 733988.