Episode 14 Restoration Roadshow


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Episode 14

Series devoted to saving treasured heirlooms from the scrapheap. Eric Knowles and his team are at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.


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Hello, I'm Eric Knowles, and we've got an array of objects here.

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Some of which we'll show you how to restore and make money as well.

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It's all here on Restoration Roadshow.

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We are delighted that today's Restoration Roadshow is coming from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire,

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birthplace of one of the country's greatest prime ministers, Sir Winston Churchill.

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This majestic building, built to commemorate the first Duke of Marlborough's victory over

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the French in 1704, was an inspiration to Churchill throughout his life.

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He once said, "We shape our buildings. Thereafter, they shape us."

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The Restoration Roadshow is already attracting hundreds of people, bringing an eclectic mix of tired

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and injured family heirlooms and the questions they really want answering are, how much are they worth?

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£5,000, without any question.

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Should they be mended and cleaned up?

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I think the teapot and the coffee pot deserve to be restored.

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-35, 40.

-'And how much money will they fetch?'

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-850.

-'If they go to auction.'

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At two-six, once, twice, all done.

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Coming up, an 19th-century print of an epic boxing match, marred by ink stains.

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And there's a surprise in store for its owner.

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Charles Turner, believe it or not, was a local lad.

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Do you know where his mother worked?

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I imagine...

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Quite right. She worked at the palace.

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A well-travelled Victorian wooden trunk that has seen better days.

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But is it worth saving?

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We thought it might need chopping up.

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That would be awful. That would be terrible.

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And we get a chance to marvel at the splendours of Blenheim, and discover

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how careful restoration keeps this 300-year-old clock ticking over.

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I'll set it going for us.

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PARTS CLANG AND WHIRR

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At the heart of Restoration Roadshow, our expert restorers already

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have their hands full tending to items that, quite frankly, look just one step away from the bin.

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Among the vast array of collectibles arriving today is a fantastic

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19th-century sporting print that's managed to fight its way back home.

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It's got bruise-like ink stains, but was a fortuitous find for its owner, Brian Murray.

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So, should I deduce that you're a collector of pugilistic art from this engraving?

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Certainly not, because I am not. I've got no interest in boxing at all.

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So next question, why have you got it?

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Because I like going to the occasional auction,

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and if there something to be bought for a bargain, I might go for it.

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I paid, honestly, £5 or £6, nothing more than that.

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So, this, stands you virtually at nothing.

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Absolutely nothing, yeah.

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It's an interesting print in many respects

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but this print originally dates to the 1820s.

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And the interesting thing is, the engraver, and his name's down here,

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Charles Turner.

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Charles Turner, believe it or not, was a local lad.

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Originally from Woodstock just down the road, Charles' mother even worked at Blenheim,

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but thanks to his talent, he went on to have an illustrious career, winning commissions from the King.

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So Brian certainly seems to have picked up a bargain.

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The print immortalises an epic boxing match between Jack "The Prime Irish Lad" Randall

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and Ned "The Out-And-Outer" Turner,

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fought in 1818 at the Five Courts in London's Haymarket.

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In its day, it would have been as big a match as Ali versus Foreman.

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But what I want to know from you is how much you think it might be worth.

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I don't know, £50, 100, £150, on the right day, if the right person's about.

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Well, it does depend on it being in the right sale at the right time with the right people.

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And I'm also, I have to say, aware of the condition. It seems a bit sad.

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That is very true because it does need some work on it.

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As you can see, it's got some blue ink stains in various places.

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But the big question is, how much is it going to cost

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to get rid of these blemishes?

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But can the ink be removed without ruining the vintage print?

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Sounds like a task for our paper restorer, Louise Drover.

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Louise has treated everything from Turner and Gainsborough watercolours to priceless 15th-century books.

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But will Brian's print prove a tough opponent?

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Do you think you can get rid of those stains?

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Yes, it may be possible to reduce some of these stains, actually.

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And certainly improve it a lot.

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I would need to do some tests and see if they were able to be reduced.

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That's going to be the tricky part.

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Ink's designed to leave its mark, so her first challenge is to test out the stains

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to see whether she has got an easy or more complex ink to remove.

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The big question is, how much is it going to cost?

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Yes, probably to reduce this, it would probably cost in the region of £130-£140.

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OK. All right.

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Bearing in mind that it cost you nothing...

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Yes, I think I'd like to go along with that, Louise.

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-Louise, work your magic!

-OK, I'll do what I can.

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Even in its current state, I think this 19th-century boxing print is worth around £100.

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The restoration to tackle its unsightly ink stains will cost between £130-£140.

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It's going to be quite a battle to reverse this clumsy, inky mistake,

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so Louise needs to take the print back to her workshop.

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But will she be able to make those stains vanish? And will the print prove a knockout at auction?

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60, 70...

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Coming up - While things are ticking along at the Roadshow, we find out

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how 300 years of restoration has kept this famous Blenheim landmark running like clockwork.

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And we discover how the greenhouse effect has taken its toll on an antique Chinese wine cooler.

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It seems like it's been in a very, very hot room where the polish itself

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has bubbled up to the extent that it's actually shrunk.

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What I love about the Restoration Roadshow is that you never know what might turn up next.

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Those forgotten heirlooms that owners have stashed away in their attics and garages,

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thinking that they were worthless, can be quite surprising.

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We've got a very old trunk here.

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This weathered wooden trunk belongs to Ray and Kathleen Kinch.

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It's clearly been used on a fair few journeys, but has it reached the end of the road?

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Looks like a job for furniture restorer, Tim Akers.

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He's one of our most experienced wood wizards.

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Give him a piece of William and Mary walnut furniture and he will work wonders.

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I like it already, I have to say.

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It's got great appeal.

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Let's have a look at it.

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Can you tell me something about it?

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We inherited it from my mother.

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And we asked the family if they wanted anything at the house and my son said, he would like it,

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-so, he had it, and it's been with us in our garage for a few years now.

-Right.

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I love the lining on it.

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To have the original lining throughout the whole box is half its charm, I would say.

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The inside is as important as the outside.

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Date-wise, I would have thought it was about 1880, 1890.

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-As old as that?

-Yeah, I think so, and the lining would sort of go with that as well.

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So, definitely a late Victorian chest.

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There's water marks running down the front there and it's terribly scratched on top,

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and of course the straps are pretty tatty, but they will come up very nicely.

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I like the fact that some of them are chipped on the corners.

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It shows it's had

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a good amount of use.

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That's lovely, Tim, but what's the value of this well-travelled trunk?

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-Have you any idea what it's worth in its present condition?

-Not really.

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We were just talking when we were bringing it up to you and we thought it might need chopping up!

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That would be awful, it would be terrible.

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I think it's got great potential. We could...

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In its present condition I would say it's worth about £20.

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Because it is a bit of a state.

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But I think it will clean up well.

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We will just clean it and wax polish it and remove some of the water marks and the scuff marks

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and give it a good shine, which will cost about £40-£50.

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-Would that be OK?

-That sounds good, yes.

-You're happy with that.

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I would say, because of its size, because of the lovely lining inside,

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because of the label, between £100-£120.

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-That's pretty good, yes.

-Very good. Much better than we thought.

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-Let's go ahead and do that, then.

-OK, thank you, Jim.

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If Ray and Kathleen decide to sell it, in its current condition the trunk is worth about £20.

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Tim's scrubbed up and keen to help Ray's Victorian wooden trunk regain

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its former glory, but will he be able to give it a new lease of life?

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Coming up, those pesky ink stains are proving extremely stubborn for Louise.

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Can she defeat them and help the vintage boxing print be a big hit at auction?

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And our ceramics restorer, Roger, has some harsh words for DIY fixers.

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That's so typical

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of household repairs.

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The amount of glue that's been used. An absolute mess.

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What's great about our restorers' skill is that it encourages people

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to think differently about re-using their antiques and collectibles.

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Look at that. What a difference.

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Particularly when they see the quality and craftsmanship

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that went into creating them in the first place.

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Although many owners think their items are only fit for the bin,

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when they see what our restorers are able to do,

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they genuinely seemed thrilled to be able to give their possessions a second chance.

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Unbelievable. I could hug you.

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But imagine the incredible restoration challenges

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you have to face when you're dealing with heirlooms on a Blenheim Palace scale.

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One of the most precious treasures here is the 300-year-old tower clock.

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It's marked the passing of time for centuries and has been looked after by a succession of restorers.

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John Richards is its 21st-century custodian.

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This clock, it is locally called Big Ben.

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Actually, it's exactly twice as old as Big Ben.

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It was made in 1710.

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So that makes it 300 years old.

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It was made by Langley Bradley, who, in his time, was an extremely important clockmaker.

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He was a friend of Sir Christopher Wren's, and he made the clock for St Paul's Cathedral.

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This is indeed a very rare clock.

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This clock is actually called a birdcage movement because of the shape of it,

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if you look at it, it does look a little bit like a birdcage, if you use a bit of imagination.

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And what is so nice about it is the fact that they used to

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make things in a rather light way, and it has a nice fleur-de-lys motif on two of the bars.

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But the best of all is the turning on the steelwork, at the sides.

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If you look at that, it's absolutely magnificent.

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But after nearly 300 years of faithful timekeeping,

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this magnificent clock was showing serious wear and tear.

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I noticed at the top that the cables were becoming corroded

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and beginning to fray, which is a sure sign that they need replacing.

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When you consider that, on each one, there's a quarter of a ton weight, hanging,

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you certainly wouldn't want it to break.

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You can't use a ladder to get up there because there's no room for it,

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and there are all sorts of bits and pieces sticking out all over the place.

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The corroded cables, as well as spelling possible disaster,

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also meant the famous clock could have stopped.

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John, who's tended to the clock for over 40 years, had to shin up

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through the top of the tower and replace three cables of galvanised steel, each one 40 metres in length.

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It was an extremely difficult job to do and very dangerous indeed.

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He also added a yellow marker to the winding drum, so that when it's wound, twice a week, there's

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no chance of it being over wound, so the clock should run trouble-free for another 50 years.

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I'll set it going for us.

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MECHANISM CLANGS AND WHIRRS

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Looking after this clock and indeed the rest of the clocks at Blenheim, is something I'm immensely proud of.

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It's a lovely place to work and it's a great privilege and I don't take it lightly.

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I understand the responsibility of it as well, but I've enjoyed it immensely.

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Back at the roadshow, our restorers and already in top gear,

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putting their years of experience to good use as they treat a steady stream of rather sickly patients.

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Push it in, very, very gently, and that's nice and firm.

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I've applied a light coating of wax to this frame and it'll take out

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the tiny, little hairline scratches that are on there.

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Letty Wicks has brought in a Harvest Ware tea-set.

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Made by Royal Doulton, it was a popular range.

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But tea-sets are relatively few and far between.

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However, this particular tea-set has taken a knock

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and someone has attempted - in vain - to fix it.

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Can our ceramics restorer Roger Hawkins do anything for it?

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Roger Hawkins is a champion of ceramics and his skills have taken him to America and Hong Kong.

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He loves his pottery and porcelain and rarely turns away any piece in need of help.

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Certainly it would be around 1890 anyway, because you have...

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-180?

-About 1890.

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-Really? Oh. That's a surprise.

-How old did you think they were?

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I thought they were... I don't know.

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'40s, '50s, something like that.

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-No. No. No.

-It used to belong to my mother in-law and my husband

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had it with me for at least all my married life, 26 years.

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But because it's broken, what do you do with them?

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That's so typical of household repairs.

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The amount of glue that's been used.

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Absolute mess. It looks hideous, doesn't it?

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-Absolutely.

-We can certainly improve the restoration on that.

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We'd have to dissolve all this old glue, clean the surfaces,

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before I can glue it back on again, and do a full restoration.

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So in this sorry state, is the tea-set actually worth anything?

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As a set, like this, with the three pieces,

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our valuer put the value at around £80 to £100.

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-Yes.

-If the set were perfect, altogether,

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our expert thinks it would fetch somewhere in the £150 region.

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-Hm, well.

-But as for the restoration, you're looking at a total cost,

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just for doing these two, of something around £120.

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£120.

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And the whole set is, you say...?

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It's worth maybe 150, 180.

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-Doing this invisibly, so that you wouldn't know the handle has been restored...

-Repaired.

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That would probably be around £60.

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-Really? That much?

-Yes.

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-More than the actual worth of one of the pieces?

-Yes, sadly.

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Because the restoration cost is just labour.

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Optimistic, Roger.

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I think this-tea set is currently worth less than £60.

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But to undo the household repair and make it look new again is a big job that would cost around £120.

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And once fixed, the tea-set is unlikely to fetch

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very much more at auction.

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You might just as well sell it as it is, because there's no point spending that money on it.

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So what do you think you want to do?

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-What's your idea?

-Well, I think

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we will sell it.

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It's just a lot of money to spend on them.

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This is a classic case of when restoration simply isn't worth it.

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It's easy to get carried away and think that making everything look perfect will increase its value.

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That's why an expert opinion is vital.

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I've think to restore it's going to cost £3,000, which is somewhat like the value if you were to buy it.

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-I would suggest that it's not worth spending any money on it.

-Right.

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-It's going to eat away at the profit.

-Yeah.

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So Roger's advice to Letty is save your money and pass

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the repair on to someone who may be interested in buying it at auction.

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The roadshow's attracting hordes of people eager to have their

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broken family treasures resurrected by our team of experts.

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Our specialist furniture restorer, Rod, has been

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cornered by Roger, who wants an expert to cast an eye over his ancient hexagonal wine cooler.

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Rodrigo Titian is a master furniture guilder and lacquerer.

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His decorative handiwork has graced the hallowed halls of many of London's finest palaces and hotels.

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And he loves reviving tired old pieces with his skilful touch.

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-You know it would have had a metal liner on the inside?

-So I believe.

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Yes. And over the years that's been lost. What's the story behind this?

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Well, we don't really know anything much about the history.

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It's been in the family, as far as I know, for quite a long time.

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I thought it was Chinese, because it looks Chinese, but...

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Yes, I would say it's been made for the European market, so it's been made possibly in China,

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but for the European market.

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It seems like it's been in a very, very hot room.

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So possibly something like a type of conservatory,

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greenhouse type thing, where the actual polish itself has bitumened up.

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It's actually bubbled up to the extent that it's actually shrunk.

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Unfortunately, that's all over, so if we were to bring that back

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to a smooth finish, it would be very costly affair.

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Do you have an idea of its value?

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Seeing the condition, we thought it probably had very little value, and in fact we were thinking of taking

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it to the local antiques shop and depositing it there, if they would take it, and if they wouldn't,

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-take it to the second-hand or the charity shop.

-I see, OK.

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I would say that,

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finished, you're looking at about £800 to £1,200 in value.

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-Unfortunately, the restoration costs far outweigh that.

-Yes.

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As you can imagine, there's a lot of hours that would be spent on this to do it properly.

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In its current state, the wine cooler's worth £200 to £300.

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Full restoration would be a costly labour of love at £2,500 to £3,000.

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And once restored,

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it wouldn't make much more than £800 to £1,200.

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So Roger's decided simply to hang on to it.

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Coming up, Tim's using elbow grease and old-fashioned beeswax to give that tired Victorian

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trunk a good polish, something we should all do once a year to preserve our wooden furniture.

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But can Tim rediscover the beauty of this vintage travel piece?

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Our paper restorer Louise Drover has got a fight on her hands, too.

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Remember Brian Murray and his inky boxing print?

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Louise has retreated to her workshop to tackle the obstinate stains on the 19th century sporting picture.

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You've got these ink stains here. Looks like fairly modern ink.

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She's hoping that the ink stains will throw in the towel

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and chemically dissolve when she starts to treat them.

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Basically, we need to pull the ink staining through as quickly

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as possible without it bleeding through into the main body of the paper.

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She's using a polyester film to protect the rest of the print from the treatment.

0:21:120:21:18

I've cut a small hole, the same shape as one of the ink stains.

0:21:180:21:23

So that's lined up nicely.

0:21:230:21:26

So I just need to introduce the vacuum, and just switch the pump on.

0:21:260:21:30

The print is sitting on a special vacuum tray which is

0:21:300:21:34

constantly sucking at the print, like a high-tech vacuum cleaner.

0:21:340:21:39

I'm just painting this solution on, and it's being drawn through by this vacuum.

0:21:390:21:45

She's using water with just a tiny amount of ammonia,

0:21:450:21:48

in the hope that the solution will effectively bleach the ink.

0:21:480:21:52

Next she tries with a slightly stronger solution.

0:21:540:21:58

So I think that's the last application for a moment, so I'm going to leave it to dry out.

0:22:010:22:09

Just so that it pulls the moisture through and I can have a proper look when it's all dry.

0:22:090:22:15

If you compare it to the picture from an hour or so ago, the ink really is beginning to lighten.

0:22:160:22:22

But will Louise be able to improve it further?

0:22:220:22:27

Louise still has a lot of work on her hands to get this vintage boxing print fighting fit for auction.

0:22:290:22:36

Will all her efforts pay off, and when it comes under the hammer,

0:22:360:22:40

will it be a winner for owner Brian Murray?

0:22:400:22:42

It's been a cracking day here at Blenheim.

0:22:480:22:50

Our restorers have been reuniting owners

0:22:500:22:53

with their heirlooms and showing off their transformation skills.

0:22:530:22:57

Good gracious me.

0:22:570:23:00

Gosh. Is this really mine?

0:23:000:23:02

But what will owner Ray Kinch make of the beauty treatment to his Victorian travel trunk?

0:23:040:23:08

Has Tim sent those difficult watermarks packing?

0:23:080:23:12

There you go, Ray. That's the chest, all waxed up - cleaned and waxed up.

0:23:150:23:19

-What do you think?

-Wow, it looks marvellous.

0:23:190:23:21

Really. I mean, the grain that come out on the elm and the different part on the pine...

0:23:210:23:25

-It's fantastic.

-It's come up really well.

0:23:250:23:28

-Much better than I expected it could from when we brought it today.

-Well, that's right.

0:23:280:23:32

Before, its owners thought this trunk was only fit for firewood.

0:23:320:23:36

Now it's got its lustre back and, thanks to Tim's special polish,

0:23:360:23:41

it looks every inch the dapper Victorian traveller.

0:23:410:23:44

The hinges and that have come up really well. Everything's fine.

0:23:460:23:49

And it was right not to do anything with it because they look their age.

0:23:490:23:53

-If you painted them they would have looked terribly false.

-Yes.

0:23:530:23:57

So it matches the rest of the...

0:23:570:24:00

distressed but loved the look of the chest.

0:24:000:24:02

Yeah, it was £20 when we started, so it's worth a lot more now, I hope.

0:24:020:24:06

Yes, £50 to do it up and I'm sure you'd get £100, £120 possibly,

0:24:060:24:12

and maybe more, because it has come to life and it looks lovely. Would you consider selling it?

0:24:120:24:17

I think we're going to keep it in the family, it'll be a third generation thing.

0:24:170:24:21

It may even be longer than that.

0:24:210:24:22

-Brilliant. I'm pleased that you brought it along.

-Thank you very much, Tim. Very good, thank you.

0:24:220:24:27

Wow, what a difference.

0:24:270:24:30

The trunk looks stunning, and I'm not surprised that Ray's decided to keep it in the family.

0:24:300:24:34

So, while Ray's happy to take his trunk home, here's a reminder

0:24:370:24:40

of some of the bedraggled antiques that turned up at our Blenheim roadshow.

0:24:400:24:46

Letty Wicks and her Doulton stoneware tea-set, with its sad old milk jug.

0:24:460:24:50

She took Roger's advice not to restore, as it wouldn't make her any money.

0:24:500:24:55

And Brian Murray's collectible piece of sporting memorabilia, bought for next to nothing.

0:24:550:25:00

He's hoping that Louise can outbox the blue ink stains and make him a bit of money at auction.

0:25:000:25:06

It's auction day at the auctioneer's, a specialist seller of sporting memorabilia.

0:25:110:25:17

They have over 800 items on sale today, from champion fighters'

0:25:170:25:21

boxing gloves to signed cricket bats.

0:25:210:25:24

So Brian's print is in good company.

0:25:240:25:26

Now, do remember that auction houses charge fees and commission and that

0:25:280:25:32

everything that's being restored should be noted in the catalogue.

0:25:320:25:36

£700...

0:25:360:25:38

But first up, what will Brian make of Louise's handiwork?

0:25:380:25:42

So, here we go, on the count of three. One, two, three.

0:25:420:25:45

And let's have a see what we've got.

0:25:450:25:48

That is a transformation, isn't it?

0:25:480:25:51

It certainly is. Yeah.

0:25:510:25:54

And I don't think there is a hint of any colour, because there were four or five spots round here.

0:25:540:26:00

Yes.

0:26:000:26:03

Before, Brian's print was spattered with ink.

0:26:030:26:06

Louise ever so carefully set about removing the stains but not the print.

0:26:060:26:12

That's quite a change.

0:26:120:26:14

Do you know, I thought it had actually been remounted,

0:26:140:26:17

because it's all looking sort of nice, sort of spick-and-span, isn't it?

0:26:170:26:21

Yes. There's good definition around there. Yes.

0:26:210:26:24

So it really has been rescued from the dead, hasn't it, in many respects?

0:26:240:26:27

Oh, yes. I'm sure the blue ink spots on it would have turned off any

0:26:270:26:32

prospective buyer but hopefully now it will have greater appeal.

0:26:320:26:36

Now it's all down to whether the print finds a true boxing fan at auction.

0:26:380:26:42

In its original state, it was worth less than £100.

0:26:420:26:47

Louise has used her skills and saved it for £130.

0:26:470:26:50

And I'm told it should make

0:26:500:26:53

in excess of £250 at auction.

0:26:530:26:55

But another challenger has entered the ring.

0:26:550:26:59

There's an earlier tinted edition of the same print on offer, so will Brian's win through?

0:26:590:27:04

This is our lot.

0:27:040:27:06

Lot 454, it is the boxing print, which is showing up to my left.

0:27:060:27:12

We can start this with some interest, actually, at 60, 70, £80, 90, 100, I have.

0:27:120:27:20

A bit frustrating when you're at the back because you can't see who's doing the bidding.

0:27:200:27:24

It's my bid and I'm selling at £100.

0:27:240:27:29

-Come on, just need a few more.

-At £100, then.

-Go on, go on, go on.

0:27:290:27:33

And that's £100 to paddle 900.

0:27:330:27:37

-Ooh. Well.

-It's OK. I mean,

0:27:390:27:43

-you win some, you lose some.

-You do.

0:27:430:27:45

We're just about on the right side.

0:27:450:27:48

That's disappointing.

0:27:480:27:49

I thought it would go for more than £100, but the earlier coloured edition didn't sell at all.

0:27:490:27:56

So on the day, Brian definitely backed the winner, even if he didn't make a profit.

0:27:560:28:01

By restoring the print, he's saved a fascinating

0:28:010:28:03

piece of history for the future that can now be admired by its new owner.

0:28:030:28:08

Well, no real high-flyers today but no shortage of satisfied customers,

0:28:080:28:14

whose antiques we've saved from the scrapheap.

0:28:140:28:16

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

0:28:160:28:20

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:260:28:29

E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:28:290:28:33

Series devoted to saving treasured heirlooms from the scrapheap, restoring them to their former glory and maybe even making some money at auction.

Eric Knowles and his team are battling to save a whole host of wounded antiques from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Is it the end of the road for a lovely but very well travelled wooden chest? Has a lacquered wine cooler been damaged beyond repair by the greenhouse effect? Will the owner of a delightful Royal Doulton tea set be served up with a hefty restoration bill? And can a bruised and battered boxing print be made fighting fit for auction by paper conservator Louise Drover?