Jay Blades and the team repair a broken pipe, a dilapidated gramophone and a huge blue ceramic pitcher that is missing several pieces.
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Welcome to The Repair Shop,
where cherished family heirlooms are brought back to life...
This is the workshop of dreams.
..home to furniture restorer Jay Blades.
Nowadays, everybody spends a fortune on stuff that, once it's broken,
they just bin it. But everybody has something that means too much to be
thrown away, and that's where we come in.
Working alongside Jay will be some of the country's leading
-Every piece has its own story.
It's amazing to think that some of my work becomes part of that story.
I've always played with things. I've always repaired things.
-And I just love it.
-There is a real pleasure in bringing people's pieces
back to life again.
..each with their own unique set of skills.
The right tool for the right job.
They will resurrect...
-I'm warm, man!
treasured possessions and irreplaceable pieces of family
-Wow, she's fantastic!
..bringing both the objects...
-This is what I remember!
-..and the memories that they hold...
-..back to life.
Oh, my God!
In The Repair Shop today, clockmaker Steve is set a unique challenge...
Do you know what, I've never seen a pipe like this.
-I've never repaired a pipe.
I've repaired a lot of things, but not a pipe.
..while Kirsten pieces together a historical artefact with a dark
story to tell.
Three legions of Roman soldiers were actually massacred.
It was a turning point in history.
But first, Corrie Evans has turned to The Repair Shop for help with a
faded relic from her childhood.
She's hoping that Jay and gramophone guru Tim Weeks can
-jump-start it back to life.
-Hello. You must be Corrie.
-You all right?
-Hi, Corrie. I'm Tim. Pleased to meet you.
-So this is your baby, yeah?
-Can I have a look?
-So, what is it, then?
-It's a Dalek.
-It's a Dalek?
-It's a Dalek and a record player.
-A Dalek in a record player.
-And a broken old radio.
-So, hold on, why do you call it a Dalek?
-Well, it looked like a Dalek when I was little.
-I wanted a Dalek, and I couldn't have one.
-It had records in here, but they've gone.
-Ah, yes. Yeah.
I had The Laughing Policeman and fairy tales.
-The Laughing Policeman!
-It was the only one I liked.
OK. How long have you had this?
I bought it when I was five, in an auction.
-Five years old, in an auction?
-Yeah, yeah. Well, I bought it, but my dad paid for it.
-At five years old?!
-I was in the auction, I was having it.
What you've got here, actually, it's quite interesting,
it's the changeover period between the wind-up gramophone,
that you had to put needles in, and
-the beginning of electronic reproduction.
This sort of thing only lasted for a short time, because,
quite soon afterwards, of course, they went over to 33s and 45s.
It's a curious historical anomaly, this.
-Which will need mending.
-Yeah, it's a bit battered.
This, by the way, I've just found inside there, I know what that is.
-That is... It's actually what they call the cursor.
It's the thing that's supposed to be inside there, sliding up and down,
to tell you what station it's on.
So, when was the last time this was working, then?
I think it was just before I left home, so when I was about 15 or 16.
And I love it. My sister and me, just lying on the floor,
listening to The Laughing Policeman, over and over and over again.
She's not with us any more, so just to have this,
-with my kids laughing at it, would be great.
Well, we can definitely get it going, can't we, Tim?
Talk to me.
-We can do it, yeah.
-Thank you. The simpleness of it!
We're going to get it working, so thank you for bringing it.
-Short answer is, we're going to get it working.
-Nice to meet you.
-Thank you, and you.
-You take care.
-Let's get this over to your bench, then.
Tim will need to draw on all of his 50 years of gramophone experience to
get this one up and running again.
I think what we need to do first here is get the electric motor
running, and the electric motor is, of course, this bit here.
What I'll have to do first is
take the main winding out of there,
see if we can get it to turn smoothly,
re-lubricate it, and then, bit of luck and a following wind,
we'll have the thing spinning.
The Repair Shop has seen some
unusual items pass through its doors,
and the next arrival is no exception.
It's been brought here by 85-year-old Lisken Jellings
and her granddaughter, Katie.
Hello, ladies. How are we doing?
-So what have we got here, then?
-My great-grandfather's pipe.
OK. Well, this looks like a job for Steve.
Steve, if you don't mind joining me?
-Hi. Do you know what?
I've never seen a pipe like this. I've never repaired a pipe.
-I've repaired a lot of things, but not a pipe.
So how long has it been in the family, then?
Oh, it's been in the family since...
-Well, we estimated something like 140 years.
It depends when he bought it, we don't know when he bought the pipe.
-The meerschaum pipe, it is blocked. I can't blow through it.
-Ornate pipes like this first came into use in the 18th century.
The bowl is carved from a porous white mineral called meerschaum,
or sepiolite, found in abundance in the Black Sea region.
The more they are smoked, the more the white bowls are stained a golden
brown by the tobacco.
-Have you ever seen this pipe being used?
-No, I haven't.
But my mother says, when she was five,
she used to be with her grandfather a lot,
she told me that he used to sit in his rocking chair...
..this bowl was resting on a stool by his feet,
and he just sat and the smoke coiled around him.
He had been a very busy businessman,
he'd been mayor of the town,
he had done a lot of good work.
And I would like to do it, in his honour, too,
-that it isn't just a wreck in a drawer.
If we got this fully working and unblocked again, down there,
-what would it mean?
-What would we do? We'd have a party!
-We'd have a party.
-A meerschaum pipe party.
-I'll get it over to my bench, then.
This is a really nice pipe.
Some lovely, lovely silver mounts to it.
These are beautiful.
It is really well blocked.
I'm not sure how I'm going to get to the blockage, actually,
because I can see down both ends.
So the blockage is in the part I can't see.
I mean, this is the real difficult part.
There's a spring that's in pretty poor condition here.
I'll probably have to make a new spring.
The leather-work on the pipe is also in a sorry state...
-What are you doing?
..so Steve's roped in his sister and master saddle maker Suzie
-for some assistance.
-That's connected to that.
-Like that. Yeah?
And then, at this top end,
it's got this flexible piece that goes in there,
-And then that goes in there like that.
The part connecting the mouthpiece to the stem is a flexible hose,
constructed from a leather-bound spring.
The spring goes in the middle.
-And then there's three layers of leather. That is leather,
This spring is so old and rusty, and the leather so worn,
that the only solution is to build a new section from scratch.
-Leather's a lovely material to show...
-..and we can certainly
stain it to this colour.
I think the leather on the outside would look very pretty,
-cos it'll be pigskin that I'll use.
-Oh, right, OK.
So it has a grain to it. So, there's your texture, and you can do the
spring, you can remake the spring.
Yeah, I've got some piano wire on the way,
-then it shouldn't be too difficult, should it?
-No, piece of cake.
-Oh, really? Oh, good.
Next into The Repair Shop, Brenda and Norman Jenner have
brought a much-loved family heirloom
which has met with an unfortunate accident.
-That's a big pot in there.
-It is a big pot, it is a big pot.
Oh, right, OK.
Absolutely fabulous, isn't it?
-How long have you had it? Where did it come from?
My earliest memory of it was that I'm probably about three years old.
-And it was...
it sat in my Nana Norfolk's house.
It took pride of place in her house. When Nana died,
Mum inherited the vase, and that's sat in various rooms in her house.
So this has been with you all your life?
-It... Yes, I've known it all my life.
-And it made, obviously, a big
impression when you were very, very young.
It was one of those things, it's... I don't have any photos of it,
and unfortunately we don't have any photos of Nana,
so the memories that this jug brings back is of us as children,
-and, you know, just...
It brings back lots and lots of happy memories.
What have we got here? Presumably the...
These are the broken bits.
-How did it break?
Unfortunately, one Christmas, we were taking down the
-Christmas decorations, and poor Norman stepped off the ladder...
..knocked the speaker, which knocked into the vase, which went...
-..on the floor.
-That's just... Yeah, I feel for you.
-How long ago was that? How many Christmases?
-Oh, it must be going on for about 15-odd years ago.
-I think it's a really lovely, interesting piece,
and I would certainly
love to restore it, if you're happy to leave it with us,
-and I'll get on with it.
-Thank you very much.
I think my initial concern, really, is whether all the pieces are here.
And I'm just trying to sort of, like a jigsaw,
just get a rough sort of outline of what's actually here,
and what I'm going to have to make up.
For me, the worst-case scenario is if there's going to be an area
missing with a lot of detail in it,
that I'm then going to have to model up. As you can see,
it's absolutely covered in decoration, so I'm hoping
that everything's here, but if it's not, I'll just have to
-deal with it!
Meanwhile, Tim's fixed the turntable on the gramophone.
You beauty! You beauty!
Next, he's turning his attention to the radio.
What's interesting is that it gives one of the stations here
as "BBC Light Programme". What that tells us is that this is, in fact,
made after the War, rather than before it.
I'd assumed this was prewar, about 1937, '38. I would say now
this must be post-war, and I'll tell you how we know that,
because the Light Programme didn't come into being until 1946,
I think it was.
Pre- or post-war, reattaching the
straight tuning cursor is going to be a bit of a battle.
Fortunately Tim's armed with a secret weapon.
I've been able to find the instructions,
and the diagram for how it's done, on this particular set.
This was published in a trade magazine in 1949.
And the instructions, in case you want to try this yourselves,
go like this... "Pass one end into the drive wheels through the hole K.
"Make a small loop into it,
"wind it clockwise around the fixing boss inside and fix the loop to
"the screw D. Drop pulley N, and with the free wire, wind three and
"three quarters turns anticlockwise into the large outer channel,
"winding towards the rear of the channel, running off at T
"to the pulley M." Following that, are we?
It's great fun!
Absolutely great fun.
Any suggestion that one might use bad language at a time like this is
totally not the case...!
Steve and Suzie are steaming ahead with the restoration of the elderly
-I'm just about to make a new spring for the pipe.
I'm not sure how much length I need,
but I've got three metres of
hard wire. It's always surprising how much wire you need to make a
And that's the spring.
Right. Here we go.
-Made the spring.
-Oh, look at that!
-That's very impressive.
-Thank you very much.
-OK, I look forward to seeing it.
All right, thanks so much.
Suzie's first job is to wrap and glue layers of leather around the
spring, ready to be stitched.
I've got three layers of pigskin on here.
So I'm sewing the seam to lock all the leathers together.
Next, some staining.
I've just done a test spot on a leftover piece of pigskin,
just to see how it's going to come out.
It looks really nice.
Suzie's leather-work is done.
Now it's back over to Steve to reassemble the pipe.
-Oh, that looks fantastic!
-Yeah, that's great.
We'll have to get it all together then,
-and then get you to smoke it!
-All right, thanks.
Over in the ceramics section of the workshop, Kirsten is discovering
some more hidden secrets within the 19th-century German pitcher.
-So, how is my ceramic queen doing?
-You all right?
-Yeah, good, actually, thank you.
-What's...what's happening there?
-Look at that!
-Oh, yeah, OK, that's quite interesting.
I think it's probably a crack that appeared, a firing crack.
So it's actually in the manufacture of the piece.
It's a really big piece, and it's got so much stuff sort of added to
-it, that it probably happened in the manufacturing.
And you can hear, when you tap it, it sounds good.
It's got a really nice sort of ring to it, and that means that,
-It's not busted?
-So what are you going to do with this now, then?
-You're going to...
-So I'm taking off the old restoration,
and I'm going to give this a really good clean using the steam cleaner
that I've got there. Actually, that's the sort of thing you quite like doing, isn't it?
-I would love to do that, actually...
-Yeah, I know.
-..but I know you won't let me.
-No, no, I won't.
It's really satisfying, this.
-I know, it would be.
-So I'm just going to try and remove any...
-It's great for getting in all these sort of nooks and crannies and detail.
-It's lifting the dirt, you can see it, compared to there.
-Yeah, it's great, isn't it?
Tim has his hands full with a dilapidated gramophone.
He's reattached the cursor for the radio,
now it's time to find out if the whole system will come back to life.
We've now got all the major component parts sorted, I think,
and ready to go. Now for the really interesting bit.
We plug it in,
and see if it all goes.
So, they're both plugged in, like so.
Well, that wasn't supposed to happen! Not quite sure what's wrong
-there. I'll just check...
-Are you all right?
Um, I seem to have plunged the place into darkness.
-I think you have.
-Sorry about that.
-So, what have you done? You've just plugged that in?
Well, I've plugged the radio, plugged the tuner amplifier part of
-it in, that was fine. Plugged the deck in...
-..and suddenly all the lights went out.
So is it unplugged? Everything's unplugged?
-Everything's unplugged now.
-So if we can reset the fuses...
..there's a reasonable chance we could work out what's actually gone wrong.
I think maybe there's a little short-out going on inside here.
And they're staying on. That's a good sign.
-That is a good sign.
-That is a good sign.
Yeah. I don't quite know what's happening there.
I'll just take this apart and see if we've got a short in there,
before we risk it again.
-We've taken the turntable off.
-I've had the cover off of there.
-The wiring in there seems to be OK.
-It's only two wires, just come to a couple of terminals.
So I can't, for the life of me, see anything, wiring-wise, wrong with it.
-So, are you ready for this?
Yeah, I am.
-That's the bit I'd just plugged in when all the lights went
Now, the other bit, of course, is to turn the tuner on and see if it all...
..see what happens when we do that.
-There we are.
-And the valve's lighting up.
-We've got it all going.
-So you've got it all sorted, you blew the
fuse, but I'm happy.
-Yeah. I'm never going to forget about blowing that fuse.
-Neither am I, all right?
Here we go.
Power restored, the workshop is back in full swing.
Steve's managed to remove the blockage from the meerschaum pipe,
and after a thorough polish, he
can put the ancient puffer back together.
There we are. All finished.
Ugh! To smoke. Yeah, it's a bit dusty.
Lisken and Kate are back at The Repair Shop,
ready to be reunited with their precious family heirloom.
-How are you?
Come and have a seat. Look, Nanny.
-Thank you. Now, then...
-Are you looking forward to this moment?
-Yes. Very much.
-I didn't sleep last night!
-Oh, really? OK.
-Take this off...
-Oh, my gosh!
-Oh, my gosh, that's amazing!
Look at that!
-Look how shiny it is.
It hasn't been like that for years!
-Now, wait a minute, I'm going to blow.
AIR RUSHES THROUGH PIPE
Oh, you can hear it!
That's marvellous. Marvellous.
-It's so good, you've done an amazing job.
-You said that this piece had fallen off of this main wooden pipe...
-Now, it's actually meant to come off.
-So it pushes on really tight,
-and stays on.
-That's so you can clean it out.
-Oh, that's interesting.
-When do you think it
-was last in this condition?
I reckon over 100 years it probably hasn't looked like this.
-Mmm, that's true, yes. When it was brand-new, I should think!
-Better than new, this is.
-I can't believe it.
-You have been marvellous, thank you.
-Thank you very much.
-I was quite moved, actually, but I'm good at hiding it.
It is better than I ever thought it could be.
He's done a wonderful job, really wonderful.
-It looks amazing.
The whole family, they've got strict instructions that I'll haunt
-them if they sell it.
Ceramics expert Kirsten has cleaned the 19th-century German pitcher,
and removed all the old glue from the broken pieces.
Now she can focus on putting it all back together again.
But several smaller pieces were lost when the pitcher was knocked over.
Fortunately, Kirsten is a dab hand with modelling clays.
-So, how are you doing, Kirst? Oh, you've come along, haven't you?
Thank you. I'm glad you can see the difference.
Do you know what, I'm actually really, really pleased with this.
I was just working on it a few moments ago and thinking, you know,
this was just in pieces, and actually, it's stable, it's solid,
-I'm really delighted with the way it's come back together.
-You sound happy.
We've done a little bit of research on this, and in fact,
it is depicting a massacre in the Teutoburg Forest,
-So this piece is from north-west Germany.
The massacre itself is actually quite interesting.
It was a point in history where the Romans were actually sort of
-coming up through Europe...
..and they had a leader, who was called Herman the German.
-You're not joking?
-No, I'm not joking.
-Herman the German.
-Herman the German!
-And the Romans thought that he was, you
know, loyal to them, and they were coming
up through Germany, and he led the
Roman legions into a massacre in the Teutoburg Forest.
It was actually sort of a turning point in history, because
up until that point, the Romans had been, you know,
-everyone thought that they were invincible.
And at this point, where three legions of Roman soldiers were
actually massacred, you know, it's sort of...
-Because of what Herman the German did?
-Herman the German!
Now she's successfully reassembled all of the broken pieces,
Kirsten can start the delicate
process of repairing the firing crack.
I'm going to make up a coloured fill, just out of a two-parts
adhesive, adding some pigment,
and I'm just going to run that in here to actually try
and mimic the glaze that's there.
It's quite handy, really, this is so incredibly busy,
that the eye isn't naturally drawn to this crack at all.
But I think the colour filling is blending in quite nicely,
and supporting and hiding
the firing crack.
With the firing crack fixed,
Kirsten can put the finishing touches to the paintwork.
And just in the nick of time,
as Brenda and Norman have returned
to see what magic she's been able to work.
-Hi, lovely to see you.
-Lovely to see you.
Right, well, I won't keep you waiting any longer.
I shall reveal your piece.
-That is just how I remember it.
It's brought back my childhood, I'm three years old again.
-Yeah. Seeing it...
Oh, gosh, that is so good.
And the handle's all in one piece, too.
We never saw that like that, did we, because that was in two pieces,
and there was a bit missing, wasn't there?
There was, yes, I made up a part of that.
Was that always missing, then, that bit?
No, I don't think so. I think that probably...
-Went up the Hoover!
Quite a few bits went up the Hoover, but we kept the biggest bits, yeah.
Oh, just feeling over the moon.
It's just beyond how I would have imagined that it would be.
It's a lot of history that's just come back to life, isn't it?
It's a nice piece of the family, coming back home, basically.
Yes, it is, yes.
Tim's huge undertaking with the antique gramophone is almost over.
All of the separate parts are back in working order.
Time to put this piece of audio history back together again.
And there we are.
The last time Corrie saw her dear
old gramophone it was in a sorry state,
without a record to its name.
It's accompanied her throughout most of her life,
and for over 30 of those years, it's been silent.
-Hello. How are you? You all right?
-Yes, thank you. How are you?
Good to see you again.
-Are you ready, Tim?
-Yeah, let's do...do the thing.
Oh, it's shiny! There we are.
-Oh, it looks so much better.
-It does, doesn't it?
-Oh, look, it's lit up and everything.
-It's never lit up!
-Oh, it's got the thing.
-And what's more, it goes up and down...
-Oh, my gosh!
-..like it's supposed to.
So, seeing it in this state, does it bring back any childhood memories?
Oh, yeah, this is how it was. It was shiny, and I don't think I've
-listened to it since I was about ten.
-Well, we can rectify that.
-Sounds to me like a cue to put a record on.
And here's one I prepared earlier.
And for Corrie and her late sister,
there was one track that was always a firm favourite.
MUSIC: The Laughing Policeman by Charles Jolly
That's it now. I'm just going to laugh forever.
Oh, it's lovely. He's done such a lovely job.
It just took me straight back to when my sister and I were on the
floor, laughing, and it's so lovely
to have those memories of when we were kids.
We had an amazing childhood,
and just to be taken back there was so special.
And that record is so funny, I think it's going to be worn out!
Join us next time as more treasured possessions are revived,
and their precious memories restored in...
..The Repair Shop.
Clockmaker Steve Fletcher turns his talents to restoring an ornate antique pipe, carved from a mineral called meerschaum. Steve also calls on the help of his sister, and master saddle maker, Suzie to replace the lacklustre leather parts of the pipe. Gramophone guru Tim Weeks takes on the restoration of an early twentieth-century record player and radio that was bought at an auction by owner Corrie when she was just five but hasn't produced any music for years. And ceramics restorer Kirsten Ramsay tackles one of the largest pieces she's ever worked on, a huge blue pitcher from Germany decorated with images from an infamous event in Roman history.