THE FIRST clues to the identity of the Hampshire resident who is due a delayed letter 45 years after it was posted have been uncovered.

The mystery letter addressed to a Mr R Barton living at Hedge End's Shamblehurst Lane caravan site in 1956 was found hidden behind a wall during the refit of a post office near Bury, Lancashire.

Current owners of the site - now known as Grange Park Mobile Homes Park - Eastleigh Housing Association and Royal Mail bosses are trying to track down the elusive Mr Barton, with the help of the Daily Echo.

Health bosses are also on the look-out after reader Eric Watson contacted the paper to say he thinks he knew the man in question. Fair Oak resident Eric believes Mr Barton was a Hedge End local known as Dick Barton - after the famous radio detective serial.

Sixty-one-year-old Eric says the Richard Barton he knew worked at Moorgreen Hospital, West End, either as a nurse or as a porter.

But, with no idea where his old acquaintance might be today, Eric hopes another reader will be able to fill in the blanks.

Eric, who also worked at the hospital, said: "He was a nice chap. The last time I saw him was back in 1976 and unfortunately I haven't a clue where he would be now.

"This man would have been the same age as my dad and would be in his eighties or nineties now."

The health trust which runs Moorgreen Hospital has joined the search in the hope of reuniting Mr Barton with his long-lost letter.

* Are you - or do you know - Mr Barton? If so contact the Daily Echo on 023 8061 4271.