The famous Cottingley Fairies photographs are coming home to Bradford - in spite of a higher bid from film star Mel Gibson.

The star, whose company made Fairytale - A True Story based on the Cottingley legend - offered £20,000-plus for the collection of photographs and cameras used in the famous hoax.

But Geoffrey Crawley, the Southend collector selling the items, refused the bid because he had already agreed to sell them to the T&A-backed appeal.

Gibson was unavailable for comment, but Mr Crawley said he turned down the bid because he wanted the collection to return to Bradford.

Mr Crawley, who withdrew them from auction after the T&A stepped in to help launch an appeal, said his loyalty to the project was never in question.

He said: "I am very pleased and have no regrets about turning down the offer by Mel Gibson.

"Dash it all, this is Britain! I bought them originally to prevent them going to the US so wasn't about to risk them going abroad again. I expect I will come up and see them when it is all ready."

The appeal, launched by the T&A in conjunction with Amateur Photographer magazine, was launched on the eve of the premiere of the film in February.

It has reached £14,000, thanks to T&A readers and the support of three national photographic companies, Canon, Jessops Group and Olympus Optical, who contributed £11,499 between them.

The collection comprises six photographs, supposedly of fairies; watercolours of fairies by Elsie, a gifted artist; the two cameras used in the hoax; a First Edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Coming of the Fairies (1922) where he argued that they were real; and a nine-page letter from Elsie confessing the hoax; and Mr Crawley's complete Cottingley Fairies archives.

They will be housed in the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television.

Today, its head, Amanda Neville, said: "We are delighted that they are coming home, it is where they belong. It is only right that they are on display at the museum where everybody who has been inspired by the story of the 'fairy' photographs can see them.

"The plan is that they will go on temporary display at the Treadwell Gallery in Little Germany until the main museum reopens."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.