Jay Blades and the team repair a water-damaged rosewood table, an antique French steamboat and a much-loved but threadbare panda bear that holds many cherished memories.
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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 spend 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 craftspeople.
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...
Right tool for the right job.
..they will resurrect,
-Come on, man.
and irreplaceable pieces of family history.
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,
Will has his work cut out with an antique table.
There are some jobs that you think are a really good idea
and then halfway through you just think, "Oh, my gosh!"
While Julie and Amanda attempt to breathe new life into a precious
50-year-old cuddly toy.
We've been waiting for this for a long time.
But first, The Repair Shop is taking delivery of a real collector's item,
belonging to Betty Raymond and her son, Michael.
-I'm Steve, hi.
-Hello. I know you can't shake my hand.
-Pop it on the table here...
-..whatever it is.
-What have we got here?
-OK, this is an antique steam gunboat
-that my parents found some years ago.
-Oh, my word.
This is fantastic.
Part of the rudder. That's good.
We've got a cannon and another cannon.
I found it on the beach at Goring-by-Sea in 1952.
-It was just that part, protruding from the sand.
My husband said, "Don't touch it, don't touch it, it will go bang."
But I stayed with it
and eventually that was what came out from the sand.
It was absolutely buried.
-Have you researched the history?
My husband wrote to the address that is on the stern of the boat
but we never got a reply.
And have you ever had it working?
Yes, in the boating lake in Poole Park.
Michael was two at the time and we took it down and had it going.
Would you like to see it running?
I'd love to see it running, yes.
After my husband died, I'd had it for a few years
and I passed it over to Michael to look after.
And then take it to his son, to keep it in the family.
-Because it's such an unusual piece of history.
Absolutely. So I'm going to really enjoy this project.
Wonderful. That would be great.
-Thank you very much for coming in.
-Thank you very much.
-Thanks very much.
Built by French toymakers Radigue & Mathieu,
this steam-powered battleship is at least 125 years old.
But the years of being buried under a Sussex beach
have clearly taken their toll.
The first thing Steve needs to do is strip off all the components
and find out if the boat is seaworthy.
Steve. I heard you need a bucket?
-Full of water.
-I do. Yeah.
I just fill it with water to see if it's watertight and basically
-what I need you to do is put your finger over that hole there.
-Have you got your finger in the right...
-I've got it in the...
Look, I'm going to show you.
-It's there, right?
-That's the right one, yeah.
-Fill her up.
Right, I think that's enough. How's that looking?
That's all right, actually. There's no water in the bucket, is there?
Lift that up.
-That's absolutely brilliant.
If you can stay there for about half an hour and just...
The Repair Shop takes in all manner of artefacts
steeped in family history.
But not many of them span four generations.
Mark and Carol Bentley have brought along a much-loved
which they hope the team can restore to its former glory.
Will, we've got a table.
-Looks like it's standing up on all three legs, so...
If we leave it too much longer, I think we'd have pieces rather
-than a complete table.
-Where did you get it from?
-It came from my mother.
Before her, her grandmother
and, before her, my great-great-grandmother.
So this looks like a triangular top but I presume these...
Yeah, these come up.
Looks like rosewood to me.
The thing with the rosewood is it's quite a dark wood,
but, as time goes on, it really lightens
and it goes this really nice blonde colour,
which looks lovely but it's really tricky to then patch certain areas.
And it looks like we're missing a massive patch of veneer
from the inside.
-That's the most serious problem.
-If you leave that with us,
we will let you know when it's ready to be picked up.
-Thank you very much for coming in.
To get a clear view of the beautiful veneered top,
Will first deep cleans the table, which reveals a challenging issue.
You can actually see where everything is quite light
but there are areas where it's quite dark,
and the only way to make that light again is to bleach it out.
Bleaching isn't really my favourite task.
It's something I've used sort of as a last resort.
To get the table back to its best,
Will has to colour match some rosewood veneer.
So right now, I'm putting on the first bleach.
What that does is it soaks into the wood
and actually makes it look a lot darker.
And once that's dried in about 20 minutes, half an hour,
then you put on bleach B and then that turns it lighter.
So I'm really pleased with this.
I know that this looks really bleached out and a lot lighter
than the table, for now.
However, once I neutralise this
with a bit of water and white vinegar,
you'll see it's not actually too far off, is it?
That looks pretty good. I've actually surprised myself in a way.
But with a 200-year-old wooden piece like this,
even a seemingly straightforward job has hidden problems.
I'm not sure what to do.
Instead of patching it there...
-I am considering on
patching it there,
so taking it right up to that line of inlay.
-Seems like quite a big, big job to me. I don't know.
There are some jobs that you think are a really good idea
-and then halfway through you just think...
-"Why did I start this?"
.."Oh, my gosh!"
The possessions we treasure most
are often those that represent a connection to loved ones.
Next to arrive at the repair shop is Jill Padmore,
with an adored childhood friend in need of some serious TLC
from soft toy restorers Julie and Amanda.
This is Panda.
I had Panda when I was one.
My father bought me Panda.
As you can see,
he's been well-loved and well-cherished over the years.
-Sadly, my father died when I was nine.
He's very precious to you for that reason.
Yeah, he's very precious because I didn't really come to terms with my
father's death for probably about 20 years.
But Panda, throughout that time, when I couldn't talk about him,
he was always there.
We didn't have to have a conversation. He was my connection.
I knew that my father, who loved me, had bought me the panda.
So he knows everything?
He knows everything and there's a lot of tears shed on him.
He's a very special panda. Deserves to be looking beautiful again.
-Did he have a little red tongue?
-He had a little red tongue, yeah.
We had tea parties, you see,
so I think obviously during a tea party he must have lost his tongue.
-Enough that he can sit up?
-Well, he never did sit up by himself.
-He always had to be propped up.
I just want to be able to, you know, cuddle and love him again...
Absolutely, we understand.
..and pass him on to my son as well.
I just want to reassure you that we won't change his look
or his character.
He will still be the panda that you remember.
-We'll look after him.
-He'll be fine.
-Don't worry, we will look after him.
Come on, Panda. You're with us now for a little while.
-Thank you very much.
-No, you're more than welcome.
I feel as though I'm, sort of, honouring Dad's memory, really.
And being able to pass him onto my own son is...
..you know, is very special.
The first step for Julie and Amanda is to carefully unpick this
distinguished old friend and remove all of his stuffing.
No going back, as they say.
-It has to be done, though, doesn't it?
That's the thing. I always think it's lovely when you first
-undo seams that you see the fur as it would have been...
..cos that's the bit tucked inside.
-How cute is that?
Just that last little bit.
-Yeah. There we go.
There he is in two pieces.
Well, there you go.
-You wouldn't believe that all came out of him, would you?
-Good job. Back to the unpicking, then?
Back at his bench, Will has made a bold decision
about the rosewood table.
So, I'm going to take a giant leap
and remove the veneer on the inside.
Veneer of this age can be especially stubborn to remove,
but Will's got a trick up his sleeve.
So the iron is melting and softening the glue underneath the veneer.
You can sort of just roll it up like that.
But there's a risk of me damaging the surrounding area,
which is what I don't want to do
because I might end up having to replace the entire top.
HE EXHALES AND LAUGHS
Right, I am happy to see the back of that process.
Now, Will can begin to apply the rosewood veneers
he bleached earlier.
This is the point where, almost the point of no return.
Measured 50 times and cut once.
It's going to pay off, it's going to pay off.
It's really tricky because if I cut everything symmetrically,
it definitely wouldn't fit.
So I'm actually having to partly use my imagination
and partly just go with the feel of the table top.
What I'll do now is put some glue on the back and then clamp it down
because I don't want any air pockets or pockets of loose glue.
Steve is painstakingly reviving the 19th-century toy battleship that was
discovered on a beach 65 years ago.
I've already cleaned up one cannon.
That's what it looked like before.
It's come up quite nice.
I've got to repair the propeller.
It doesn't feel smooth.
So I think the whole thing might need stripping out and cleaning.
So how are you getting on with the other bits, then?
Yeah, good. This is the actual main burner.
So you put methylated spirits in there and you've got three flames
coming up, which sits under here
and heats up the tank.
-This is the piston.
So the steam drives this piston,
which goes up and down like that and actually turns this flywheel,
which is attached to the propeller.
..is the really important piece.
That was full of sand,
but now I've cleaned it all out and it's as smooth as anything.
So it's a matter of just putting everything back on now
and firing it up.
As Jay overseas repairs across the workshop,
he's keen to find out if Will's big gamble on the rosewood table veneer
has paid off.
-This is like Christmas. Come on.
-You do that side, I'll do this side.
-I'll let you do the last one.
-Oh, that looks nice.
-And it's flat.
The only thing is, that goes in like that, doesn't it?
But we're still going to have that bit missing in the middle.
-I can patch that.
If I can do that, I can patch that.
-All right, I'll leave you to it, then.
Before the precious toy battleship is relaunched,
Steve needs to be confident that its steam engine still works.
After all, it's been out of action for almost 70 years.
-So you're going to wait for it to get a pressure...
..and then the steam should go through?
I've got Dom's welding mask here, so once it gets to a certain heat,
I'm going to put on the...
-Actually, I'm going to do it now!
-Did you see that?
-Yeah, yeah, I saw it.
-You can see it's got some energy there.
-What's stopping it, do you reckon, then, Steve?
-I'm not sure.
Because, obviously, it should go, shouldn't it?
It's almost there, it's almost going.
-Back to the drawing board?
What I'm going to do, I'm going to loosen up the propeller end
because that might be causing too much friction.
-Right, come on, then.
Over on Julie and Amanda's workbench,
emergency surgery is being carried out
on the threadbare 50-year-old panda.
We have now lined all the body and the arms and legs.
I will put some stuffing into this head.
Julie will get his tummy panel into place
and finish putting his paw pads in.
We see pandas right back from early, early bear-making.
I'd say as early as the '20s.
This one came from the 1960s
and I would say around the '60s, I think they had pandas at London Zoo,
and, of course, all the children wanted a panda.
So it's quite nice to see one that's survived.
The fact that he's been played with so much and, you know,
he's still in reasonable condition.
Now that I've got more stuffing behind there,
there's a bit more substance to his muzzle.
I'm going to be able to stitch his little nose into place
and his tongue will be going there.
This is how he would have originally looked,
so I'm really pleased with how that's looking.
He'll be ready to pop it back onto his body when Julie's finished.
-That's if she catches up.
-And stops faffing.
Yeah, she's good at faffing!
We've reached a tricky stage now.
We have this area here around the edge of the fabric which,
quite delightfully, is as his fur would have been.
However, if we don't match this properly,
that's going to show and it's not going to look right if it shows.
White fluffy armpits are not a good look.
No, it won't be quite right.
Once I have stitched all the way to the top here,
that will be, effectively, the stitching complete.
And then I'll be able to turn it through
and check that I did actually get it lined up.
It's kind of a bit exciting.
She's got her smug-mode look on.
She's definitely confident.
I'm a bit scared to look now, you're making such a thing. Oh!
Look at that!
Look, look. Well done.
Will has made good headway
on a much-loved 200-year-old rosewood table,
handed down through four generations.
But his work isn't done quite yet.
Whilst I was dismantling this table top,
I realised that one of the panels
sat prouder than the actual triangular surface.
I thought that it was actually warped and curved,
but instead I realised some of these hinges are actually bent.
So I thought, why not take them off,
get them into a clamp and see if I can clamp them flat?
That's almost perfect.
If I compare that to a hinge I haven't actually flattened out yet,
you can see the massive difference there.
Hopefully, they should all be just as easy to flatten out.
Once the hinges are back in place and the table reassembled,
Will and Jay have just enough time to add some finishing touches before
Mark and Carol return to collect it.
-Hello, Will. Nice to see you.
-Nice to see you.
-Would you like to have a look?
-You have done a brilliant job, Will.
I just wish my mother was still around to see that,
and my grandmother as well.
Like me, they'd be lost for words.
I just didn't believe it would be...
Well, look that good.
-It was a pleasure to work on.
I really, really owe you for that.
If you're ever down our way, you're welcome for a coffee any time.
I might hold you to that!
I'm stunned by what Will's done with the table.
When he took that blanket off and we looked at the inlay...
-..I got very emotional.
-It's just brought it back to life.
It's as though it's just come out of the showroom.
And it just brings back so many memories of my mother and my grandmother.
The story doesn't finish here.
-It's four generations and counting.
Clockwork expert Steve has been engaged in an epic struggle
with a vintage toy battleship.
He's painstakingly cleaned up all of the components,
and although the boat's steam engine works,
it has so far refused to actually turn the propeller.
So, it's going to work this time?
Do you know what? I'm confident this time.
So do you know why it didn't work?
Yeah, the whole hull was slightly bent,
which meant that the actual propeller shaft
wasn't quite in line and it was binding.
I do trust you.
You ready? There we go.
It's coming out. That's a good sign.
Come on, man!
Wow, that's fast, isn't it?
-Feel the air.
Oh, wow. So in the water, that would just go like that, wouldn't it?
-It would go like a rocket.
-That's a point, yeah.
-It might go really fast.
-Go too fast! I like that.
-I'm chuffed to bits.
-You should be, man. Well done. That's a good job.
-Michael's going to be well-chuffed with that.
-No, well done.
The conditions on the local duck pond are perfect for a vintage toy
steamboat's relaunching ceremony.
Betty and Michael are back to see how Steve has got on with the
restoration of their much-loved family heirloom.
-How are you doing, Michael?
-Good to see you.
-You all right?
-You all right?
I'm really excited to see this.
I don't know if you've been as excited as Steve.
He was like a little boy in a sweet shop and a toy shop.
I've never seen him this excited.
So we're going to show them?
Look at that.
I haven't polished it all up. I didn't want it gleaming.
This is just how I'd like it if it was mine.
It's amazing, it's brilliant.
It's really brought it back to life.
So what would your husband think of it now?
He would be absolutely thrilled to bits and beside himself.
He would have been absolutely out of this world.
Well, I'm going to fire it up now.
Once it's heated up, I'll launch it.
You're going to launch it? You're not going to let Michael launch it?
-Oh, come on!
-I don't want you to fall in.
Oh, you don't want him falling in? All right.
Take the last bit of pleasure away from you.
Yes, it would, actually!
There we go.
Right, I'm going to put it in the water now.
That's fantastic. I was just blown away.
To see it just chug off from his hands, it really was amazing.
Look at them, they're like two little schoolboys, aren't they?
It took me back
to the time when it was first put on the water
and I could see my husband and Michael,
and that's one of the most precious things there is, remembering.
Back in the workshop,
the repair of the old toy panda is almost finished.
There's just one thing missing.
So it's my job now to marry up head with said body.
This can be a little tricky at times.
Vintage fabrics do stretch over a period of time.
Now, we have stabilised this by lining it,
but we still have to make sure that, as we put it on,
we're not going to get any, you know, head to one side
or not fitting him properly,
otherwise he's going to have a crick in his neck forever.
-How are you doing?
-Just the last couple.
-There he is, all ready for his bow.
-Yeah, it's really good.
-I love doing this.
-Get the bow on him.
-It's our finishing touch, isn't it?
The final test to see if he's done.
The one thing Jill said was he never was able to sit up on his own.
We know we've got it right if he falls over.
-OK, are you ready?
With her son, Edward, Jill is back at the repair shop
ready to be reunited with the precious bear
that her late father gave her 50 years ago.
-How are you feeling?
So you must be Edward, who's going to eventually own panda bear?
-So, are we ready?
You've been waiting for this for a long time.
Go on, then. Ready?
There you go.
Oh, my goodness me.
He looks just...
-Thank you so much.
You're more than welcome. It's a pleasure.
He looks better than I remember.
He looks better than I remembered.
-So now he looks like that, does it take you back?
Just lovely that the connection you have with him and your father,
it's just like that link that you're always going to have
all the time you've got Panda.
It is because you go through a process when you're grieving and,
as I said, it feels like
he's the last jigsaw in the healing process...
-..after all these years. I'm so grateful to you.
-The Repair Shop of dreams. Thank you.
Come on, you. Come on.
They've just given me a piece of my childhood back
and a link to my dad that I've got, hopefully, for the rest of my life.
-It's the last piece of the jigsaw.
-Yeah, last piece of the jigsaw!
I knew they were the people to do it for me and I'm so very grateful.
Join us next time, as more treasured possessions are revived,
and their precious memories restored.
Furniture restorer Will Kirk takes on a rickety, water-damaged rosewood table, but the extent of the damage leaves him with a tough decision to make.
Resident clockmaker Steve Fletcher turns his hand to getting an antique French steamboat shipshape again after it was found buried on a beach over fifty years ago.
And after many hours of stitching and sewing, soft toy restorers Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell reunite a much-loved but threadbare panda bear with its owner Jill, for whom the bear holds many cherished memories of her late father.