Episode 1 Restoration Roadshow


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Episode 1

Series devoted to saving treasured heirlooms from the scrapheap. In Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, furniture restorer Tim Akers revives some 300-year-old battle-scarred chairs.


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Hello. I'm Eric Knowles, and this is the programme where you can find out

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if those tired and broken heirlooms and treasures can be restored back to their former glory,

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and maybe make you some money at auction.

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Find out how on Restoration Roadshow.

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I'm at Stonyhurst College, a splendid Grade I listed building here in rural Lancashire.

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Originally built in the early 1500s by Sir Richard Shireburn,

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it was bequeathed to the Jesuits, and is now one of the country's top boarding schools.

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It's a perfect setting for our Restoration Roadshow,

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and our team of restorers are already attracting a lot of interest.

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Your rocking horse is just one step away from the knacker's yard, isn't it?

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And the questions on everyone's lips: just how much are they worth?

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I'm suggesting that it may be in the £4,000 bracket.

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Should they be cleaned up and restored?

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-Would you like to go ahead with that?

-I would, yes, because I really like it.

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And will they make any money at auction, or end up back at home?

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Coming up on today's programme - a mysterious Flemish woman hiding under layers of grime.

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Can painting conservator Lucia reveal her secrets?

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This dirt is really quite telling.

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What hope is there for these fabulous 300-year-old battle-scarred chairs?

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Very interesting bracket there.

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I'm a pot-aholic. I love this vase!

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Come on, Roger, we need your ceramics skills to bring it back to life.

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It's worth good money, but not like this.

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To restore Moorcroft is quite difficult.

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So can he restore it and make this vase fly at auction?

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£800? 850? I'll take 850.

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It's wonderful to be at Stonyhurst College for today's Restoration Roadshow.

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With over 400 years of scholastic history to marvel at,

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the roll-call of past pupils is a who's who of the great and the good.

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Along with seven Victoria Cross winners, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

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celebrated author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, also left his mark.

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While our restorers investigate the day's first casualties, this item's caught my eye.

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Owned by Dr Frank Rudman and his wife, Liz, and it's linked to the great author himself.

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I believe we share a literary hero in the form of...

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-Yes, Sherlock Holmes.

-Sherlock Holmes.

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The connection of Conan Doyle with Stonyhurst is quite interesting.

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I understand he was a pupil here in the 1870s, and he shared his classes

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-with two characters called Moriarty and Watson.

-Is that a fact?

-Indeed.

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And you've brought along a a couple of volumes... What are we looking at?

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We're looking at bound editions of the Strand Magazine.

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The first, 1891, possibly the most interesting.

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OK. Just looking inside here,

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it is profusely illustrated.

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I was led to believe that these originally were offered in, was it the monthly editions?

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In covered magazine form, that's right.

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This was subsequently bound so there's the edition for the whole year there, 1891.

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With anything to do with Sherlock Holmes extremely collectible,

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these bound Strand magazines are highly prized.

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They're in pretty good nick, too, so I think tampering with them would be a crime.

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But what an unexpected treat.

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It's this unpredictability that our restorers just love.

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What's going to turn up next? What secrets does each treasure hide?

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Like Edwin Grettin's mysterious oil painting.

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He's throwing down the gauntlet to our painting conservator, Lucia Scalisi,

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who spent 12 years at London's Victoria and Albert Museum working on priceless masterpieces.

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What a beautiful portrait you've brought in for us today.

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How did you come by this?

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About 50 years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I was working

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in Poland and I saw her in a junk-shop, and I liked the look of her.

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She didn't cost me very much. I paid about £25 for her at the time.

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She's beautiful. She looks Flemish to me.

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Probably late 17th century, and she's oil on panel.

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You can see she's very dirty, and the first thing that strikes me

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is that somebody's actually had a little wipe of the surface here.

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You have got this sort of streak down here.

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That's actually taken some of the discoloured varnish off.

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-We have also got some paint losses around the edges.

-Yes.

-This one here is where it would...

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-A nail's gone through there, probably when it was in its original frame, so that's nail damage.

-Yes.

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The other curiosity about the actual image itself

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is in the hands, and these two hands are painted very differently.

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This looks as if it's actually been added on at a later date, but that's not a problem.

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It adds to the history of it.

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The other thing on the condition, apart from the little paint losses,

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in the paint there, is this area here.

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It's been heat damaged, and you can see that the paint in this area is bubbled up.

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Are you thinking about selling it? Have you had an evaluation?

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No, I haven't recently, no.

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If it turns out to be very special, very valuable, I don't think I would want to hang on to it.

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I would want to sell it. If it's enough to buy me a chateau in France, I would certainly sell it!

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I don't think somehow it's going to do that.

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Well, no, our valuers here today,

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they suggested in this condition at a sale, and not knowing who it's by,

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it will probably fetch something up to £1,000.

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So what I can do today, for the painting,

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is some local consolidation of this very fine, flaking paint here, then surface clean it.

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Take all the dirt off the surface.

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Not touching the varnish that's under there, that's a different thing altogether.

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Re-varnishing it so it will look a lot better, a lot brighter,

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-you'll get a much better idea of the image, and refit it into this frame.

-The cost...

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Would be around about £200.

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Let's try it and see.

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It looks like Edwin's enigmatic lady has had a tough old life.

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Under Lucia's care, what will come to light from beneath those ancient layers of grime?

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Could this woman prove to be Edwin's lady luck?

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Restorers just love getting their hands on items largely untouched since they were first made.

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Even if that was over 300 years ago.

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These fabulous chairs were brought in by Chris and Joanne.

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Furniture restorer Tim Akers is absolutely committed to

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bringing back beauty to neglected and abused furniture.

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It's a passion he's been indulging for over 30 years.

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So, Chris, how lovely to have some early oak.

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Can you tell me anything about them?

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Yes, they've been in my family for many generations now.

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Ultimately, they were retrieved from Bolton Hall, which is my family's

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ancestral home, and have been in our family home ever since.

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I think they're fantastic, I really do. I really love them.

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There's a lot of Victorian copies around.

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These are absolutely genuine.

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-Do you know the date?

-I wouldn't like to guess.

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They're Charles II, and they date about 1680, so they are super chairs. Let's just have a look...

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Well... OK!

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Very interesting bracket there.

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That's fine. That needs to be removed.

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The joints...

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are incredibly rickety,

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but of course, these joints were never originally glued in the first place.

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They were all dry assembled, and pegged, and you can see the lovely pegs on the chairs.

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The other thing is, of course, the second chair has got replacement finials.

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They do rather let it down. These are the originals,

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so I will turn two new ones, age them down.

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But the big question is, Tim, how much will they cost to fix?

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Sounds like quite a big job to me.

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I would have thought the restoration is going to be around about £300

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to get them into that sort of condition.

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So, what are you going to do? Do you think that's worth spending the money on the restoration?

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I would say on balance that it probably would be.

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You know, you are looking at a niche market, and I think fully restored, you might get the best price.

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Hold on a minute! Who's the expert here?

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But I actually think Chris is right.

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I reckon these chairs are worth £1,000 of anyone's money.

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Tim is going to charge Chris £300 to restore them, so I think,

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and I'm putting my neck on the line here,

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at the right auction and with a fair wind, they could reach up to £1,500.

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Coming up - as Tim starts work on the chairs, he discovers a surprising feature.

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That's a piece of linen!

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That's 17th-century bodging at its best!

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And despite being hidden in the middle of the Ribble Valley, another famous name has found his way here.

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Think hobbit and orcs!

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Stonyhurst College is beginning to look like an antiques A&E department.

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Bruised and battered pieces lie everywhere, with owners waiting to see if they can be rescued.

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But is everything salvageable?

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Sue Ashcroft is hoping for a minor miracle.

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I'm really rooting for Roger, our ceramics restorer.

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If he can get this right, Sue could make pots of money.

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With over 25 years' experience under his belt, Roger is recognised as one

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of the country's leading experts in pottery and porcelain restoration.

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Tell me the history of this. Where's this been hiding all these years?

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For the last seven years, it's been hiding in my garage.

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-Oh, completely hidden.

-But it belonged to my mum's cousin, who gave it to Mum, and after she died

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and I was sorting things out, there was a little note inside that said, "Don't just throw this out, love."

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Oh, really? Is that because she knew the value of it?

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-Yeah. Well, I think she knew that...

-She had some idea it's a nice piece.

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Yes, yes and she also knew that I would just get rid of it.

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Oh, I see. And would you? Do you like it enough to keep it, or...

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It isn't... I can see that it's beautiful, but it isn't my taste.

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-It's not your sort of thing. There's no point it living in the garage, is there?

-Not really.

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You have the registration mark here, and the number 397964, and that 39

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suggests that it is after 1900, and so it's around 1905, give or take.

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What a find. And hey, can you believe it? Dumped in a garage!

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So you have no idea of what its value might have been?

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-No.

-If it had been perfect, it would certainly have been around the £1,000 mark, or even more.

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Like this, if it went into auction like this, it wouldn't fetch very much.

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It might be just a few hundred pounds.

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To restore Moorcroft is quite difficult.

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All the brushwork round here, very, very difficult for the restorer to put back.

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So the cost of restoration of something like this would certainly easily be around £350, £400.

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-What do you think about that? Do you think that's a worthwhile option for you?

-I think so, yeah.

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I thought it might have been about 300, something like that.

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So you're happy to go ahead on that basis?

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Are you getting the impression that I adore this pot?

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Despite its damage, I think Sue would have no problem getting £400 to £500 in its current state.

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Roger's cost to restore and reglaze is £400.

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That might sound steep, but it's got to be a good investment.

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After restoration, it could easily reach £1,000 at auction.

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So, Roger, love that pot. Make it whole and make Sue some money!

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It's operation SOS here at Stonyhurst.

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So many casualties needing all our restorers' skills to give them a new lease of life.

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Using a cotton swab and a chemical enzyme resembling human spit - yes, human spit -

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Lucia has been painstakingly removing a veil of grime

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shrouding Edwin's mysterious lady. But has she uncovered any secrets?

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Well, we're now looking at the beautiful portrait of this Flemish lady.

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I've been working on the surface dirt of the painting,

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and you will see when I clean this little area just how much dirt is coming off.

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This dirt is really quite telling for two reasons.

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Not only is it thick and black,

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but it also has a distinctive smell of soot,

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and that ties in with particular damage in this dark area,

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particularly here, but also across here,

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and the painting has been in a fire or actually severely damaged by heat.

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Lucia's teaching me a thing or two.

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Backs are of equal importance.

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This beautiful oak panel...

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Flat down...

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To get a panel in its original condition and to have come through from the 17th century

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to the 21st century without anybody having interfered with it,

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either having shaved it down or added a secondary support, is quite miraculous.

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The fact that it's come through in such great condition is...

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I haven't seen anything like it, to be honest.

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I rarely get panels that haven't been tampered with. It's rare.

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It's a once-in-a-career find, but is there more to the lady than meets the eye?

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And will Tim's cruel-to-be-kind approach impress the bidders,

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when those Charles II chairs go under the hammer?

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Who will start me at what for these? £2,000 for the pair?

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It's a restoration bonanza for the crowds here at Stonyhurst.

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All manner of battered and injured objects keep turning up.

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I've come across something that I reckon is worth a bob or two.

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Well, it's amazing what's coming out of the woodwork here at Stonyhurst College,

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because we've got here quite a pleasant sketch.

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It's using pencil and crayon, and it shows one of the outbuildings,

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and it also shows various flowering plants, and I'm told

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it's the bean row just around the corner from here.

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What makes it interesting is that it was drawn here in 1947

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by none other than JRR Tolkien.

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Yes, the man that gave us The Hobbit and the man who gave us Lord Of The Rings.

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This was drawn and given to the people he stayed with as a little memento.

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Now, unfortunately, it has got a few problems,

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which if you look around here, is only too evident.

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The problem's been created by using this sort of

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sticky masking tape, which has done it no favours whatsoever.

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The tape has left its gummy mark.

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It should have been framed using conservation tape,

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so I'm definitely going to have to pass it on to one of our restorers to stop it getting any worse.

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Speaking of which, hasn't Tim sorted out those Charles II chairs yet?

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One of the chairs is so rickety that unless Tim

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takes its joints apart and dismantles it, the chair's likely to collapse.

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It's held together by old and new pegs. The originals come out easily.

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The newer ones need 21st-century technology.

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What I don't want to do with drilling is go at an angle.

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If I go to an angle by mistake, I am going to make the hole much bigger.

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That will weaken the leg of the chair, so you have to be very careful to get your angles right.

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That's perfect.

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The next stage is to knock the chair apart.

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There's no glue, so in theory, it should come apart quite easily,

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so let's have a go and see what happens.

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But these chairs conceal some extraordinary secrets.

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Let's remove that rather cruddy area there.

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That's a piece of...

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That's a piece of linen.

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That has been there a long, long time.

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The cabinet maker made his joint a bit too small

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and stuffed some linen there to pack the hole.

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There you go.

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All labelled, so that I remember where each joint goes,

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and one...

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Well, I suppose it's a flat pack 17th-century piece of furniture.

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But a 17th-century flat-pack needs its own specialist assembly tools.

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Back at his workshop, Tim's ready to tackle that nasty metal bracket.

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That doesn't want to go anywhere. Let's try another one.

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The screws don't come out easily, and Tim must grapple with them,

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at the same time being aware that the wood could splinter.

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Very stubborn. Let's try something else.

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There, it's turning now.

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It's broken off. It doesn't matter as long as it's below the surface.

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I can plug those little holes.

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I won't know until I put the two together whether that's going to be a good fit.

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Actually, that's a very good fit. I couldn't have asked for better.

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That will be a very good repair.

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But carving finials is an extremely delicate operation.

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Tim's craftsmanship is now being tested.

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He has to fashion two new finials out of pieces of oak.

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Steady hands, Tim. Just one slip and it will be start all over again.

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If we have a look... That is that collar there.

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Need to dish that in there.

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It's quite a large chunk of timber to take off there, and that's very narrow.

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You are putting a lot of stress on that little bit of timber while you're turning that.

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So let's do that bigger one first.

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If you actually rest it up against... You can see if you are out in any way.

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In fact, there's a tiny piece on that edge there, that I need to do a bit more on.

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Turning the acorn part of the finial is fiendishly tricky.

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If he's to make them identical, there's no margin for error.

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-That's it.

-Looking good, so this piece is almost ready to make its debut at auction.

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Roger's also headed to his studio to tackle the restoration of the Moorcroft vase.

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Remember, Sue's pot had two pieces that had obviously been chipped off and glued back on.

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And there's that ugly crack, too.

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Roger's already reglued the pieces back in, but what's really tricky

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with Moorcroft is getting the paint finish just right.

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On with the mask.

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Roger is trying to get an even coat and hide the repair - no mean feat on this type of ceramic.

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Rather you than me, Roger.

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Moorcroft doesn't actually lend itself terribly well to conservation because of the colours.

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To do a coloured filler on Moorcroft can be quite difficult.

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I'm happy with the join and my filling.

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It's a little too light, so I can put another coat on top

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to adjust the colour and the glaze.

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Coming up - will Roger's glaze be a perfect match?

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Will Sue spot the difference?

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Back at the Restoration Roadshow,

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Lucia has finished working on Edwin's mysterious Flemish lady.

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Has she been able to give the fair maiden a much-needed facelift?

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Right, so here we go.

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The beautiful Flemish lady.

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Yes, yes, yes. Completely changed.

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I can see the detail now, quite clearly. There is much more colour.

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From the gloom of soot-stained wood,

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Lucia has managed to reveal the lady in her true colours.

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I mean, she is damaged, obviously with the fire damage there...

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I'd never noticed this crazing before, because it was all so

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dirty and obscured, but now it does show up.

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-Unfortunate, that's irreversible.

-You can't do anything?

-No, no, no.

0:20:560:20:59

The other thing that came up with taking that sooty dirt off is this lovely little fringe that she's got.

0:20:590:21:04

You can see how fine those little brush marks are, just outlining her hair. It's very delicately painted.

0:21:040:21:10

She could well have been done by a respectable artist.

0:21:100:21:12

Definitely, and I think the quality of the panel reflects that.

0:21:120:21:15

In terms of the valuation, I know it was discussed with our valuer here, it was about £1,000,

0:21:150:21:21

and having talked about it just recently with him, he thinks it may fetch £2,000 - £3,000 at auction.

0:21:210:21:27

I'll tell you what, Lucia's done a splendid job on Edwin's paramour.

0:21:270:21:32

And to think she valued the artwork at £1,000 when he first introduced her.

0:21:320:21:37

Lucia then cleaned her up for £200.

0:21:370:21:40

That means if Edwin had the heart to part with his Flemish lady, he could pocket £2,000 - £3,000.

0:21:400:21:46

She's more than doubled in value.

0:21:460:21:49

But Edwin's smitten, and as for the lovely lady, she ain't going nowhere but his living-room wall.

0:21:490:21:54

It's been a cracking day here at Stonyhurst,

0:21:580:22:00

and a successful Restoration Roadshow with plenty of satisfied customers.

0:22:000:22:05

Here's a reminder of what tired old heirlooms needed our restorers' skilful touch.

0:22:050:22:11

I'm obviously biased, but Sue's exquisite Moorcroft vase

0:22:110:22:15

is well on its way to making her at least £1,000 at auction.

0:22:150:22:19

Edwin's alluring Flemish mistress is now worth 2,000 - 3,000, but not enough for him to part with her.

0:22:190:22:26

As for the Charles II chairs, Tim has sorted out their 300-year-old bodges.

0:22:260:22:31

Will that be enough to tempt the buyers into spending £1,500 at auction?

0:22:310:22:36

A few weeks later, we have come to the special fine art sale

0:22:410:22:44

at Silverwoods auction rooms in Clitheroe near Stonyhurst.

0:22:440:22:47

The place is filling up with customers eager to investigate the gems on offer.

0:22:470:22:53

Do remember that auction houses charge fees and commission.

0:22:530:22:56

Everything that's been restored will be noted in the catalogue,

0:22:560:23:00

including Sue's Moorcroft vase.

0:23:000:23:03

But what will she make of it after Roger's expert makeover?

0:23:030:23:06

Well, shall we do the reveal?

0:23:060:23:08

-Yes.

-Are you ready? I've been practising this.

0:23:080:23:11

-Have you?

-I have.

0:23:110:23:13

Very gentle.

0:23:130:23:15

-And, voila.

-Wow, that's incredible, isn't it?

0:23:150:23:19

That's just amazing. I can't believe that.

0:23:190:23:22

Now, if you can show me exactly where that restoration's been done, I'll give you a tenner.

0:23:220:23:28

I just can't see where it is at all. It's just amazing.

0:23:300:23:33

I've no idea. You keep your tenner.

0:23:330:23:36

If we got near the £1,000, then you would be a happy bunny?

0:23:360:23:40

-I would be very happy with that, yes.

-All right. Well, so will I.

0:23:400:23:44

Before, Sue's vase had badly glued chips and a nasty crack,

0:23:460:23:50

but Roger has turned himself into the Michelangelo of ceramics

0:23:500:23:55

and produced a breathtaking paint finish.

0:23:550:23:58

Tim has also restored the 300-year-old chairs,

0:23:580:24:03

but will Chris and Joanne be bowled over by his skilful craftsmanship?

0:24:030:24:08

That's amazing. I really can't remember where the join was.

0:24:100:24:15

-Which is the new finials? You can't tell. It's this one.

-This one here.

0:24:150:24:18

-You'd never know, would you?

-Yeah.

0:24:180:24:22

-What do you think of those? They're amazing, aren't they?

-Very, very good.

0:24:220:24:26

Before Tim turned his hand to these ancient chairs,

0:24:260:24:28

one was held by a bracket and another had replacement finials,

0:24:280:24:32

and one was really unstable.

0:24:320:24:34

But now they have been beautifully restored.

0:24:340:24:37

Look too good to sell now.

0:24:370:24:40

Take them home.

0:24:400:24:42

It looks like Chris and Joanne are falling in love

0:24:420:24:44

with their chairs all over again -

0:24:440:24:47

so much so, they've decided to put a £1,500 reserve on them.

0:24:470:24:51

They're just too good to give away.

0:24:510:24:53

It's the moment of truth, as everyone takes their places for today's fine art sale.

0:24:590:25:04

-Lot 129...

-First up are the 17th-century oak chairs.

0:25:040:25:07

They were valued at £1,000 before restoration, which cost £300,

0:25:070:25:14

and could now fetch £1,500.

0:25:140:25:17

Next lot. OK?

0:25:170:25:19

Who will start me at what for these? £2,000 for the pair?

0:25:190:25:24

£2,000, any of you?

0:25:240:25:26

£1,500, then?

0:25:260:25:28

Go on, I'll take £1,000.

0:25:280:25:31

They are well worth that.

0:25:310:25:33

700, 800 this time? 800? 800.

0:25:330:25:36

And nine? At £800.

0:25:360:25:37

900 for the pair together? Come on.

0:25:370:25:39

Where are those oak buyers?

0:25:390:25:42

All finished at £800, are you all done at 800?

0:25:420:25:45

Sorry, folks, I'll have to leave them where they are. Sorry.

0:25:450:25:50

Bit of an anti-climax.

0:25:500:25:51

-It is a bit.

-It is a bit, isn't it?

0:25:510:25:55

I agree. I'm disappointed, too.

0:25:550:25:57

Think how special it is that something so old has survived so well.

0:25:570:26:01

But at least Chris and Joanne seem philosophical.

0:26:010:26:04

-They're going back in your hallway, are they?

-There's a nice gap waiting for them.

0:26:040:26:08

So they'll be welcome home.

0:26:080:26:11

-Right, Lot number 17...

-Next up, Sue's Moorcroft vase.

0:26:110:26:16

Even with the damage, I thought it was worth £500.

0:26:160:26:19

Sue paid £400 to have it restored, and I genuinely think it could make at least £1,000.

0:26:190:26:26

Here we go. Are you holding your breath?

0:26:260:26:28

I'll start this straight away at £800. 800, and 50 if you like?

0:26:280:26:32

At £800, and 850? I'll take 850.

0:26:320:26:36

850. 900? And 50? 950?

0:26:360:26:39

1,000. And 50.

0:26:390:26:41

1,050.

0:26:410:26:43

-Going the right way.

-And 50 again?

0:26:430:26:45

1,450 on the telephone.

0:26:450:26:47

At 1,450. Anybody else now? 1,500.

0:26:470:26:51

-Gentleman hiding at the back, bidding.

-Is he?

0:26:510:26:54

1,650. 1,700? And 50 again, now?

0:26:540:26:58

1,750? 1,800? And 50?

0:26:580:27:02

1,850. 1,900? And 50?

0:27:020:27:07

-2,000?

-Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!

0:27:070:27:10

Two one? Two two? Two three?

0:27:100:27:12

Two three? Two four? Two five?

0:27:120:27:17

2,500. Two six? Two seven?

0:27:170:27:21

Are you all quite sure, at 2,600? Thank you, sir.

0:27:210:27:25

-£2,600!

-Amazing!

0:27:270:27:31

Do you think that was £400 well spent?

0:27:310:27:34

I do think it was £400 well spent!

0:27:340:27:36

2,600!

0:27:360:27:38

It's incredible, isn't it? I can't believe it. It's just amazing.

0:27:380:27:42

I did say, "Wow, wow, wow,"

0:27:420:27:44

and I meant it. Now, to be honest, that's far more than I expected.

0:27:440:27:48

What a result! £1,000 over its restoration value.

0:27:480:27:51

Bring out the champagne!

0:27:510:27:55

To think it was in my garage for all that time!

0:27:550:27:58

So while Joanne prepares to take home the pristine family heirlooms,

0:28:000:28:05

Sue's fantastic windfall proves again that our Restoration Roadshow experts are worth every penny.

0:28:050:28:12

Well, as the auction draws to a close I can tell you that

0:28:120:28:15

we've had a very interesting time of it up here in Clitheroe.

0:28:150:28:18

So until the next time, it's goodbye from everybody on Restoration Roadshow.

0:28:180:28:23

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:290:28:34

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:340:28:39

Led by antiques guru Eric Knowles, a team of expert restorers form a crack squad dedicated to helping the critically wounded items brought to them by the public. But can their remarkable A&E skills save the day and bring those treasured pots, tables, paintings and more back to life?

In this instalment from Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, painting conservator Lucia attempts to resuscitate a Flemish lady buried under centuries of grime; furniture restorer Tim Akers uses every weapon in his armoury to revive some 300-year-old battle-scarred chairs; and ceramics expert Roger Hawkins tends to a badly cracked Moorcroft vase that could be worth a fortune.