EDEN Camp Museum in Malton received a festive gift last week in the form of sections of an old second world war barrage balloon.

The pieces were given to the museum by Andrew Donovan, who lives in Hunmanby.

Nick Hill at the museum said: "We don’t have anything else like this on site, and whilst barrage balloons were a fairly common sight during the war, it makes you wonder how many have survived, and/or how much of the surplus material sold after the war is still around."

Mr Donovan's father bought the material as ex-war material surplus at the end of the war, with the intention of using it to waterproof a coracle that he was building which would allow him to go salmon fishing on the River Wye.

In the end he used some aluminium panels which he also acquired.

The balloon is in several sections, with the largest panel being approximately 6m by 3m, and has various ID numbers and markings printed on the reverse side, including ‘MK VIII’, indicating it is part of a Mark 8 type balloon.

Barrage balloons were used in the second world war to deter enemy aircraft. They hung in the sky over cities, tethered to the ground - and often each other - by steel cables which could slice through an aircraft's wing.

Floating at an altitude of 1500 metres, they also forced enemy aircraft to fly higher which made them an easier target for anti-aircraft guns.

Mr Hill added: "We are always delighted to be offered items that relate to World War Two, it never ceases to amaze what people acquired, kept and then rediscover.

"This time of year can often prove fruitful to us in that folks go rummaging in sheds, garages, attics and cellars in the hunt for Christmas decorations, and in the process unearth items that have lain undisturbed for many years."