Episode 2 Restoration Roadshow


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Episode 2

Series devoted to saving heirlooms from the scrapheap. Eric Knowles and his restoring team travel to Blenheim Palace to deal with a rare 1930s tobacco jar and a grandfather clock.


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It's a beautiful day and people have been turning up in their droves

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to see if our experts can restore their antiques and collectibles.

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What's more, some of the items are proving quite a challenge

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to our team of experts here on Restoration Roadshow.

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Welcome to one of my favourite counties, Oxfordshire,

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where the sun is shining on this beautiful palace.

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A splendid example of English baroque architecture.

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It's rich with history and ready to hold court

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as our restorers prepare to help your broken and distressed antiques.

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Everyone's keen to know if they're worth anything.

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This is a £400 or £500 tray.

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There's no hesitation.

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Will they be staying in the family?

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-A little piece of Winston Churchill's artwork.

-Absolutely. I might hang on to it!

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Should they be cleaned up and restored?

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That is one very mucky picture.

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-140.

-And if they go to auction, will they make a pretty penny?

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At £2,600...

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Coming up, on the outside this grandfather clock has

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seen better days, but is it hiding something even worse?

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What we don't know is what we're going to find underneath this molding at the bottom.

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A rare Royal Doulton tobacco jar is in a bad way.

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Yes, that is distressed.

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In fact, that's very distressed.

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And we go behind the scenes to discover how one little boy played a trick on this beautiful organ.

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He took three of the small pipes out of the organ.

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So it's another sunny day as we wait to see what you've found

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under the bed, up in the attic or at the back of the garage.

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Our restorers are ready and the excitement is about to begin.

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First up today is a fantastic 300-year-old grandfather clock.

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He's been in the family for years and Kate Norman is keen to help him.

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I don't want to be unkind, but I think your grandfather clock,

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or to give it its proper term, your long case clock,

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has had a bit of a hard life, yes?

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Well, from what I know of it, according to family legend,

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my great-great-grandfather's brother found the clock on a dump.

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So I think the case has been...

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probably not treated perhaps quite as it should have been, ideally.

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The nice thing about your long case is its date, because

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the vast majority of clocks that we see tend to be 18th or 19th century.

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This one's actually late 17th century. Do you know what it's worth?

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I'd go for maybe even £1,000.

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Maybe. On a good day.

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You're very good. You are very good.

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I'm feeling redundant here.

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Well, I think in its present state,

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it may be up to that figure. I think you're looking at maybe about £800.

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I mean, the problem is, it's not going, OK.

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The other problem is that it just does need that cosmetic touch, doesn't it?

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Time to call in our furniture and clock expert Malcolm Green.

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He's got over 30 years' experience and we're in desperate need of his expertise.

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It's a rather...

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sad-looking clock at the moment, but at one time it was looking rather good.

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This plinth at the bottom is not original.

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That was put there by somebody when they were doing their flooring in the Victorian period.

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It should have two little bun feet, that would really bring it out,

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but that would be silver.

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These hands, actually, are pretty good.

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That one's not original, but I wouldn't worry about that too much, cos they're often not.

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So what's the plan of action, Malcolm?

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The most basic is to take this plinth off,

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and turn four lovely little bun feet that look right.

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I think what we don't know is what we're going to find

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underneath this molding at the bottom.

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It could be rotten. A lot of these cases just stood on the floor and the floors

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were fairly horrid stone floors, wet, damp,

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so there might be a lot of bacterial damage, and when we turn it over,

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we could see that, but quite simply, four bun feet need to be done.

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The woodworm needs to be killed and hardened to make it right.

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That's the most basic and I suppose to do that - £350, thereabouts.

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To undertake the restoration of the whole thing, it's going to be around £1,000-ish.

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The decision is, on that basis,

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is it something that you would consider putting to auction?

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What would be good is to just do the very basic.

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He's not properly looked after, and it'd be lovely for him

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to go to somebody who can really appreciate him.

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This grand old chap didn't cost Kate a penny,

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and I think in its current sorry state, it's worth about £800,

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but given its poor condition, it'll have a tough time finding a buyer.

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Malcolm's charging £350 to restore it.

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That should help it reach the top end of its price,

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which I reckon could be up to about £900.

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So, Malcolm, you've got a challenge on your hands.

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This clock needs serious detective work, but who knows what secrets

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lie concealed in that plinth and can you do enough to help reach its price at auction?

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Can I start the bidding at £800. I'll take £20 anywhere.

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Come on, where's £20?

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The antiques and collectibles arriving today are coming in all shapes and sizes.

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You stand a very good chance of getting close to £1,000 for it.

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But we don't mind looking through your bags and inside your cars to discover those hidden gems.

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It's what brings the fun to Restoration Roadshow.

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If you keep that, when you're grown up, that might be worth some money.

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Later on, we'll investigate some local history that's showing its age.

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Gosh, that's a hefty volume, isn't it?

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Well, it dates from 1888, and it's really very much a social history.

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Next, we have a rare Edwardian Royal Doulton tobacco jar,

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brought in by Brian Murray.

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It was my father's and he used it.

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He was a pipe smoker and he bought this at Caledonian Road Market

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and that would have been in the second half of the 1930s.

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But it's been in the wars.

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So our ceramics expert Roger Hawkins is urgently needed.

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With over 30 years' experience, he knows a pretty pot when he sees one,

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but can he help Brian put the beauty back into his precious jar?

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Can you remember when your father broke it at all?

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No, I can't recall and I'm sure that it was my father who broke it

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rather than my sister.

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And it was known that she broke a couple of his other treasured pieces from the same Caledonian Road.

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Yes, that is distressed.

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In fact, that's very distressed because it has a replacement silver

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finial to it.

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When it was dropped, I assume it just hit the floor,

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perhaps the knob...

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was perhaps lost or damaged beyond repair and that knob has been fashioned out of a piece of silver.

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So it's interesting to see a repair like that.

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I mean in this condition, it would probably fetch somewhere around the £60 mark.

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Restored, if it were absolutely perfect, probably around £150-£180,

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because it's an interesting, rarer tobacco jar

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than one would normally see.

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The cost of restoration would be around between £80 and £100.

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It would put it back to its former glory, you see.

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Yeah.

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I'm not going to sell it, so...

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but I would quite like to see it restored.

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Yes.

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I'll...

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..I'll bite the financial bullet. There.

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So the little jar is currently worth around £60

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and the restoration will cost £80.

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Roger thinks it could be worth £150 to £180 once it's fully repaired,

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assuming Roger can reset the break without shattering the stoneware further.

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Coming up, Malcolm's had to pack up that grandfather clock and transport it back to his warehouse.

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We'll be seeing how things are ticking along there later.

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And I really can't wait to go inside Blenheim Palace and discover

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how this magnificent organ has been restored.

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Tony Simmons, from a local historical society,

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has arrived with a ledger dating back to the late 1800s.

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It's from an old sawmill and contains a record of the workers' wages.

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Gosh, that's a hefty volume, isn't it?

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Well, it dates from 1888,

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and it's really...inside there is very much a social history.

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Combe Mill was a local working sawmill.

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It closed in 1969, and now operates as a museum.

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Paper conservator Louise Drover has worked for the V & A and the National Trust.

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With other 20 years' experience, she knows about bringing historical documents back to life.

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-If you look at each of the sections there, you've got lists of names of people in the mill.

-Yes.

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How many days they worked on a particular job,

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and then, of course, how much to charge for it.

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My goodness.

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-So have you ever had this piece valued at all?

-No, we've never put a price to them.

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It's more of a museum piece, really.

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Restoration-wise, what we could probably do is give it a good surface clean, really.

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It's got lots of loose dust and ingrained dirt on it,

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particularly on the leather and in this cloth.

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I'm going to reattach this cloth with a wheat starch paste,

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and often the corners get very knocked and delaminated,

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particularly on large volumes.

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This one has become terribly detached.

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One of the main areas of damage with old books,

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particularly very heavy volumes like this, is that the boards can become detached

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and they really ought not be opened more than about 45 degrees.

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I think this could probably be repaired for around £150.

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That sounds very reasonable.

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Eminently reasonable! The society would be very pleased.

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Combe Mill would be very pleased to have it put right.

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But after suffering years of hard labour, can that crumbling cover be saved by Louise?

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No, it's not me playing. I'm just inside the palace taking a look at this incredible organ.

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The man who built it was responsible for some of the UK's most famous organs,

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like those in the Royal Albert Hall and St Paul's Cathedral, to name just two.

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It was installed really by, I suppose, the greatest organ builder

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that the country has ever had, Henry Willis.

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This was built and installed in 1891 when he was at the height of his powers.

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Not only does it reflect Willis' own organ building skills,

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but the quality of materials and the techniques used really were outstanding.

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This is the largest privately-owned organ in Europe

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and one of the biggest challenges is how to restore over 2,300 pipes.

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Well, the organ is over 100 years old and that's the main problem, really.

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We are repairing and we are restoring.

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One of the major problems, however,

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is the organ is like an intricate jigsaw puzzle, and to get to something quite simple

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would mean dismantling about half of the organ.

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In the last 20 years, 60% of the organ has been restored

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including the bellows and the sound boards, at a cost of £100,000.

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It's money well spent as it's an irreplaceable part of Blenheim's history.

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Andrew Patterson has been organist here for 20 years.

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This is a wonderful instrument to play.

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It gives you a tremendous feeling of power, of pleasure

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and it also has tremendous scope so there's no piece of organ music that you can't play well on this organ.

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It's not everyone's taste, but I think if you like organ music, you'll like this organ.

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It's truly the king of instruments, it has many orchestral stops, or pipes, spread across four manuals.

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The skill of the organist is to combine those stops into

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interesting sounds and different dynamics for the pieces he plays.

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The Willis organ needs constant maintenance, but sometimes,

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little acts of restoration can occur when you least expect them.

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We had a letter from an elderly lady.

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She wrote and said, "My husband, who has just died, in his will asked me to write to you about this.

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"He was evacuated here as a schoolboy during the war and as a souvenir

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"he took three of the small pipes out of the organ and he kept them all these years, nearly 70 years."

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It got on his conscience towards the end of his life

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and here they are, and there they were in a little package.

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More than that, we actually replaced them in the organ and they still played.

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Slightly out of tune, but amazing, isn't it?

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Outside, our restorers are putting in virtuoso performances, too.

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We've seen a real collection today, but not everything is worth repairing.

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Roger's tip of the day:

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That's so typical of household repairs.

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

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So forget that glue-it-yourself, let the experts do it properly.

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And speaking of Roger, I wonder how he's coping

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with that handsome Royal Doulton tobacco jar,

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the one with the deluxe addition of a silver top.

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What I have to try and do now is break it apart.

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So I thought I'd try near-boiling water, poured over it

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to see whether that will

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affect the glue.

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Every now and again I think, "Will it end up in 100 pieces?"

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But I think he'll do it all right.

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I'm fairly confident. A professional man. It'll work.

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I hope!

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So far, so good.

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Well, I'm glad you're confident, Roger.

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Actually, the lid has come apart, leaving its original break intact.

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Now it's in bits, Roger has spotted something else.

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It wasn't until I broke it apart that I realised that the original

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ceramic finial is still inside the silver casing.

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What that tells me is that in fact it was obviously made in the factory

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and they put the silver over the stoneware finial

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to match the silver rim around the tobacco jar and around its base.

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It's a great discovery. The silver around the top of the jar is so tarnished,

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it's easy to see why Roger thought the knob was an addition.

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He'll need specialist tools in order to complete the next stage, so he's taken the jar back to his workshop.

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We're never quite sure what's going to turn up.

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The treats you bring us can be big, small, broken and grubby.

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It's a restoration revolution.

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And sometimes our restorers just don't have all the kit to do the right job here on site.

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That was the case when Malcolm diagnosed a fairly major illness with this lovely grandfather clock.

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So he took it away, opened it up and found something wriggling inside.

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I can see on closer inspection that there is quite a lot of woodworm.

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This woodworm here has at some stage rotted the bottom part,

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so this molding section has been added to a piece of wood under here.

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That newer piece of molding is holding the base together, so Malcolm will keep it in place.

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After treating the woodworm, Malcolm sets to work on the feet.

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But what's with the less than delicate technique?

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Now we're going to cut these areas off here, and you have a nice round piece already turned,

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ready to cut the bun feet.

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Oh, I see, recycling, antique-style.

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In the late 1600s, bun feet were all the rage on grandfather clocks - so as well as protecting the base,

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this will help the clock look more in keeping with its age.

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Here, we're looking at the initial stage of turning this bun foot,

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so this area here is starting to be the collar.

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This collar will go up underneath the foot and this obviously will be where the floor area would be

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when it's turned. This needs to be turned rather more, but you can see the shape coming there gradually.

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Coming up, will Malcolm's efforts be enough to turn heads at auction?

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We'll find out how Roger's fared with that wheezy old tobacco jar,

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and will owner Brian be smiling again?

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Tony Simmons brought a ledger for Louise to look at. Dating from the late 1800s,

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it was ripped and in a crumbling mess.

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So Louise has cleaned her brushes, scrubbed up and is ready for action.

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I'm just pasting out this...

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this piece of textile that forms part of the boards, and I'm going to

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gradually unroll it and pitch it back into position.

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It's very precise work and there's only one chance to get it right.

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What I have to do now is actually tease out all the fibres along this edge

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so that they're unrolled and tend to tuck themselves underneath. They've been like that for years.

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Even the seemingly harmless wheat gluten paste that Louise is using

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can present risks at this stage.

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I just have a few more bits to do.

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The two lower corners to do,

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and reattaching this leather, taking great care really not to get the

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paste on to the surface, because it can actually blacken it.

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I have to be careful, because it can stain, which you don't want to happen.

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Louise is being ultra-delicate, so will Tony and his historical

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society be lost for words when they see the results?

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I have to say that my favourite moment is when we hand back the lovely collectibles

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that we've painstakingly restored. It's always a surprise and a delight.

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My goodness me!

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-Wow!

-Goodness, that's lovely, isn't it?

-Crikey.

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Roger got to grips with this attractive Royal Doulton tobacco jar.

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First, he had to break it apart to remove the old glue.

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Then he took it on a journey back to his workshop,

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where he stuck it back together and carefully filled all the holes.

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What I have to do now is start painting this surface to render that join completely invisible.

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Then I'm going to stick the finial back on and the job will be done.

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So take a deep breath everyone, it's time to deliver it back to Brian.

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So, Brian, is it fair to say that your tobacco jar and cover

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is a real family heirloom as far as you're concerned?

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Oh yes, I remember it throughout my life, standing on the shelf beside my father's preferred armchair.

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For the past eight years or so it's been at my home on a shelf.

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So, yes, it's an heirloom.

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Gosh. That really is good because I was expecting, of course,

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the top to be restored, but clearly the pot itself has been cleaned

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and the silver has been cleaned as well.

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It really does look absolutely superb.

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Before, the lid looked like a pipe smoker's nightmare, but now it's positively glowing.

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For me, pots are touchy-feely, so feel free just to pick it up.

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It was the top that was given all the attention...

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-Yes, it was.

-..wasn't it?

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Yes.

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That is absolutely outstanding.

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I would never have guessed that that was in so many different pieces.

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Amazing not to be able to see any hint of restoration.

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There's no sign of a break there, that it's undergone any work.

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I can only say, I'm really, really pleased with it.

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I'm going to put it down because I'd hate it to slip through my fingers!

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So, another satisfied customer and the Restoration Roadshow has a great result.

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It's the moment of reckoning for Louise.

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She's been working hard on that late 19th century piece of local history,

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gently pasting and repairing.

0:21:340:21:37

Toni Simmons has really put her skills to the test,

0:21:370:21:41

so what's the verdict?

0:21:410:21:43

I say! Oh that's smashing!

0:21:430:21:47

Thank you for doing that.

0:21:470:21:48

No, you're very welcome.

0:21:480:21:51

Remember how tattered and frayed the book cover was,

0:21:510:21:53

and the leather corners that were perished and split?

0:21:530:21:57

It's been totally transformed.

0:21:570:22:00

Managed to relay that cloth that was sort of folded back to here. The corners have been reconsolidated.

0:22:000:22:07

-Oh, and the edges too. Look, all the way along.

-That's right.

0:22:070:22:11

The leather is reattached where it had been lifting.

0:22:110:22:14

How did you get this sort of finish on this lovely piece of leather?

0:22:140:22:18

That's just been waxed. It's a renaissance wax.

0:22:180:22:21

Wow, wow, wow. Aren't we lucky?

0:22:210:22:24

Aren't we lucky? Combe Mill members will be surprised when they see that.

0:22:240:22:27

-Jolly good.

-I hope delighted too.

0:22:270:22:29

-Thank you very much.

-You're welcome.

-Much appreciated.

0:22:290:22:32

The ledger will now make a short journey across the Blenheim estate

0:22:320:22:37

to the museum where it'll make fascinating reading for years to come.

0:22:370:22:41

It's been hot work here in the sun-drenched grounds of Blenheim Palace.

0:22:420:22:47

We've been privileged to see what many of you have been hiding inside your homes, sometimes for decades.

0:22:470:22:53

Some heirlooms are going home, like Brian's unusual little tobacco jar.

0:22:530:22:58

Ah, I say!

0:23:010:23:02

And the ledger that really has been through the mill,

0:23:020:23:06

but that impressive 300-year-old clock, which has been in Kate's family for years,

0:23:060:23:11

has had Malcolm really turning on the style. Now it's crunch time.

0:23:110:23:15

Will Kate be happy with the finished look and will it tick all the right boxes for the bidders at auction?

0:23:150:23:22

Remember, it was found on a Victorian rubbish heap and has limped on for generations.

0:23:220:23:27

Kate grew up with him, and this will be the first time she's ever seen him in good health.

0:23:270:23:31

Now this is the big reveal. This is the bit I like.

0:23:310:23:34

I'm quite emotional, actually!

0:23:340:23:37

There we go. Is it looking a bit better than it was?

0:23:380:23:40

Oh, he's lovely.

0:23:400:23:42

It's quite emotional, actually.

0:23:440:23:46

I can remember my mother hiding things in it at Christmas, so yeah, lots of memories around him.

0:23:460:23:52

This old man was really tattered around the edges.

0:23:540:23:56

Malcolm has polished him up and given him a healthy glow.

0:23:560:24:00

But it was the rotten woodworm-addled base that really needed work.

0:24:030:24:07

Malcolm has transformed it.

0:24:070:24:09

So what do you think of that base?

0:24:090:24:12

It's just lifted him in more ways than one - physically, obviously.

0:24:120:24:16

It just gives it another dimension, really. It's fabulous.

0:24:160:24:20

Now you've seen it, I want to know what you intend to do.

0:24:200:24:23

Put him to auction for someone who can really look after him and finish the restoration off.

0:24:250:24:33

The bottom looks fantastic.

0:24:330:24:35

It would be great for the top to look that good, wouldn't it, really?

0:24:350:24:39

That's true.

0:24:390:24:40

So we gently packed up Kate's grandfather clock

0:24:400:24:43

and headed to Sworder's Fine Art Auctioneers and their country house sale.

0:24:430:24:47

There are over 800 items on offer attracting a lot of interest.

0:24:490:24:53

If you're interested in buying or selling at auction, you will have commission

0:24:530:24:57

and other charges to pay, so be sure to check with the auction house.

0:24:570:25:02

Everything that's been restored should be noted in the catalogue.

0:25:020:25:06

It's buzzing here, and we're almost ready to see Kate's clock go under the hammer.

0:25:060:25:12

In its original state, it would have been difficult to find a buyer at auction.

0:25:120:25:16

But with Malcolm's fantastic restoration job,

0:25:160:25:19

I reckon the clock could go today for up to £900.

0:25:190:25:24

Sadly, Kate couldn't be here today so I'm going to call her after the sale to report back the news.

0:25:260:25:33

Lot 1,806.

0:25:330:25:35

Fingers crossed. Here goes.

0:25:350:25:37

I'll start the bidding at £800.

0:25:370:25:39

-A good start.

-20 anywhere?

0:25:390:25:41

820, 850, 880, 900.

0:25:410:25:47

£900, top end of estimate. £900.

0:25:470:25:50

I'll take 20 anywhere.

0:25:500:25:52

920, 950, 980, 1,000.

0:25:520:25:57

With me at £1,000.

0:25:570:25:59

Do we have telephones?

0:25:590:26:00

We've got a telephone problem. We have a bidder coming through on the telephone and he can't get through,

0:26:000:26:07

or can he?

0:26:070:26:09

Just wait and see if the telephones can be resurrected.

0:26:090:26:13

Nothing like cutting it fine. £1,150 to bid.

0:26:170:26:21

Yes. There's a telephone bid!

0:26:240:26:27

We've got two telephone bids.

0:26:270:26:30

1,300 to bid.

0:26:300:26:32

1,300 on John's phone.

0:26:350:26:38

1,350 to bid, Tony.

0:26:380:26:40

1,300, I'm going to sell it to John's phone.

0:26:420:26:46

£1,350, £1,400, John?

0:26:470:26:51

£1,400.

0:26:540:26:56

I'm going to sell it to John's phone for £1,400.

0:26:590:27:02

£1,400!

0:27:020:27:04

£1,400!

0:27:040:27:08

That's a result with a capital R!

0:27:080:27:11

So, as Kate paid £350 to have it restored and with a selling price

0:27:120:27:17

of £1,400, even taking off commission, she's made quite a profit.

0:27:170:27:22

Now I'm going to sneak out and give her the good news.

0:27:220:27:26

-'Hello.'

-Hello. Is that Kate?

0:27:280:27:30

-'It is.'

-Kate, hello. Yes, it's Eric Knowles from Restoration Roadshow.

0:27:300:27:35

'And how did it go?'

0:27:350:27:36

How did it go?

0:27:360:27:38

Well, I think it went all right.

0:27:380:27:40

-Your reserve was £800, wasn't it?

-'Yes.

0:27:400:27:44

'So did we have to keep the clock?'

0:27:440:27:47

Well, no because somebody wanted it and paid £1,400 for it.

0:27:470:27:53

'Goodness me!

0:27:530:27:54

'That's...way over.

0:27:550:27:57

'Oh, wow!'

0:27:580:28:00

You can give me another "wow" if you want, I do like listening to "wows" on the telephone.

0:28:010:28:06

SHE LAUGHS

0:28:060:28:07

'That's amazing.'

0:28:070:28:09

Well, it's been a tense, yet exciting day here, and thanks to our restorers,

0:28:090:28:13

we've managed to put some smiles back on our owners' faces.

0:28:130:28:17

So join me again for another transforming slice of Restoration Roadshow.

0:28:170:28:23

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:270:28:30

E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:28:300:28:33

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 intrepid team of expert restorers travel to Blenheim Palace, where they attempt to save a host of damaged heirlooms and battered antiques brought to them by members of the public.

Ceramics maestro Roger Hawkins gets to grips with a rare 1930s tobacco jar that's in such a bad way it should come with a health warning. While furniture restorer Malcolm Green battles to save a grandfather clock that's running out of time, paper conservator Louise Drover tends to a 19th-century ledger that has experienced far too many years of hard labour.

But will the experts be able to weave their magic? Can every item be saved from the scrapheap? And will any of them make it to auction and earn their owners a pretty penny?