A model rail enthusiast has been left devastated after metal thieves stole the train he had been building for six months.

Retired engineer Gerald Smith is now offering a reward for the return of his pride and joy.

Mr Smith, 70, had spent hundreds of hours recreating a five-foot-long model of a Great Western Dean goods engine. He had almost completed it when raiders forced their way into his garage and stole the miniature steam locomotive for its copper and brass parts.

The raid happened overnight on Wednesday or Thursday.

Mr Smith, of Bray Close, Horton Bank Top, Bradford, said: “I started building it last August and must have put 700 or 800 hours work into it. I was only about a fortnight away from finishing it.

“I kept the model on a stand in the garage next to the house. When I got up this morning I found the locks to the garage had been forced and the train had gone. All that was left was the chassis and wheels.

“It had a copper boiler and copper and brass parts. It must have been taken by metal thieves. The copper boiler itself is worth £4,000 to £4,500, but no doubt they will take it to a scrapyard and get not very much for it. I am just devastated.”

Mr Smith says he is prepared to offer a reward of £200 to £300 for the safe return of the model.

Police said inquiries were ongoing to trace those responsible. Witnesses, or anyone with information, should contact Bradford South Police on 101, or Crimestoppers, in confidence on 0800 555 111.

A spokesman said: “This incident highlights the inconvenience and heartache attached to such offences, and we are working hard to prevent and detect it. Officers continue to target individuals involved in the illegal trade of scrap metal. It remains a priority for our local communities and we will be maintaining proactive operations alongside our partners.”