A HISTORIAN has unearthed the first unseen Sherlock Holmes story in more than 80 years.
Walter Elliot, 80, found the 1339-word tale by Edinburgh-born Arthur Conan Doyle starring the famous sleuth in a collection of short stories written for a community bazaar.
The wooden bridge in the Borders town of Selkirk was destroyed by the great flood of 1902 and locals organised a three-day event to raise funds for a new one in 1904.
They sold a collection of short stories by locals called The Book o’ the Brig.
Conan Doyle, who loved visiting Selkirk and the surrounding area, contributed a tale before opening the final day of the event.
Mr Elliot has now unearthed a copy of the book and spotted the story – Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar.
He was given the 48-page pamphlet more than 50 years ago by a friend but forgot about it until recently.
He was prompted to dig out the rare manuscript and put it on display as part of an upcoming local pop-up museum.
It is believed the story, about Holmes deducing Watson is going on a trip to Selkirk, is the first unseen Holmes story by Conan Doyle since the last was published over 80 years ago.
Great-grandfather Mr Elliot said: “It is written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about Holmes and Watson. In Selkirk there was a wooden bridge that was put up some time before it was flooded in 1902. The town didn’t have the money to replace it so they decided to have a bazaar to replace the bridge in 1904.
“The Saturday was opened by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He had written a wee story about Sherlock Holmes and Watson and this was in the book.”
The tale starts with a newspaper editor dispatching a journalist to London to find “a word from Sherlock Holmes” and Watson. The writer finds the pair and watches them as Holmes declares he’s going to Edinburgh to solve the “mysteries of the secret cabinet”.
He asks Watson if he’d like to go with him and when Watson says he can’t go Holmes says he thought he was “going to the Border country”.
Watson then asks him how he knows that and Holmes, using his usual powers, says it is a “matter of deduction”.
Ann Treherne, chairman of the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre in Palmerston Place, said the find was “remarkable”.
She added: “We run talks on this great man during the Festival Fringe and would be delighted to put this latest discovery on show to the public during that event.”