Jay Blades and the team repair a unique toy replica of a Dennis fire engine, a Japanese Imari bowl that has been smashed to bits, and a weathered piece of Dorset history.
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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 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,
-On water, 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,
Steve gets to grips with a favourite childhood toy.
There we go. Sounds a bit like a fire engine!
Or a doorbell.
It's quite a magical peace, really.
And Kirstin takes on an Oriental artefact with an unusual history.
It can be used for blood-letting,
as a sort of medical practice
for treating all sorts of various illnesses.
First to arrive at the repair shop, a very special delivery,
all the way from deepest Dorset.
-How we doing, sir?
-John Felsted and Kevin Oakley have brought a little
piece of local history that's seen better days.
-This looks heavy.
-That's it, boys, that's it, boys, come on!
Here, I've got it, I've got it.
So, now I've got my breath back, what is it we've got here?
You've got the village sign,
from a little village in Dorset called Winterborne Stickland.
This was crafted by the whole village.
Reg, who was a baker...
-He was a baker.
-So he designed it in Plasticine
and then they decided amongst themselves who would carve what.
We have a local engineering works that made the ironwork.
We've got a man that makes ceramics.
-So he made that.
Loads of people have come together to make this sign?
-Yeah. And it depicts various parts of the village.
I was about to say, it's quite interesting
how you got different things going on there.
With the gloves and the clock.
That's the mill house.
-And there's a church.
-This is the church, yeah.
Now, this side looks in a lot better condition.
-One faces north, one faces south.
I think you'll find this faces south.
And you've got a date down here, what's this?
1988, that's the date it was unveiled.
Oh, this is quality. Oh, I get it. That's why we've got the post.
So, this would sit right on top of that,
so it needs a good support because this is very heavy.
-It is heavy.
The main problem with the post
is the crack all down through the middle.
-It would be very nice
-to see it put back to its original condition.
We can do that, can't we?
I think this is going to be much like how it was
put together in the beginning, a big team effort by the repair shop.
Yeah. Gentlemen, it's been a pleasure.
-It's a pleasure. Absolute pleasure.
-Thank you very much.
You guys take care now.
First port of call is metal worker Don.
-Cor, this is heavy!
-OK, be careful because that's ceramic.
-What is this?
-It is the top of a village sign
but I need your help to take this apart.
It's so much easier
for me to clean all the individual panels separately,
rather than having this humongous sign on my bench.
I can take the metal part out and leave you with just the wood.
Fantastic, top man. Thanks, Don.
Many of the items that arrive in the repair shop are faded old toys
that stir happy memories.
Mervyn Granshaw is hoping
that the team can rescue his favourite boyhood possession.
-How we doing?
-Very well indeed, thank you.
-Nice to meet you.
-What is it we've got here?
This is a Dennis fire engine.
They made most of the world's fire engines for, probably, 100 years.
-And during the Second World War, my father,
who was a cabinet maker,
he knew this gentleman who worked in a factory,
who was a skilled metal worker.
He made this model during his spare time, as a hobby.
He gave it to my father. My father's name was Dennis.
You look on the side of the bonnet, either side you'll see,
it's not only a Dennis fire engine
from the Dennis fire engine factory,
-Made for Dennis.
-Made for Dennis, my father.
So, he came home with it one day and gave it to me as a toy.
-And you used to play with this?
-Oh, yeah. It was my favourite toy.
So what did it used to do, then? Like, you say you played with it,
you just pushed it up and down, or does it do stuff?
No, no, no, how it works is this.
If you operate this one on the side, they can go up, as far as you want.
And then this one, here, will rotate it anywhere you want it to go.
-When it's working and all the strings are functional,
there's another little lever here and when you rotate it,
the ladders will extend all the way up,
so you have a triple length ladder.
It also had its headlights at the front, operated by this switch,
a little interior light for the driver.
And also underneath there is a bell.
So this is a one-off, isn't it?
There's no other vehicle like this anywhere in the world, is there?
No, not at all. This is the only one.
I think this is all going to clean up beautifully, actually,
and look absolutely cracking
when we've got it all up together, working,
lights on, ladder working and everything as it should be.
Steve, you should be able to fix this.
You used to be a fireman, didn't you?
I did, yeah, I was a fireman for 30 years, retained fireman.
Just waiting for a call, when I was working on clocks.
And, yeah, I'd learned to drive fire engines on a Dennis.
So you know how to work this, then?
I've now got a granddaughter and it would just be lovely
if it was as it was when I was little.
Well, thank you for bringing it in.
-Not at all.
-And we'll let you know as soon as we're done.
-Thank you very much.
-Nice to meet you.
-You take care.
There's quite a lot to be done on this, actually,
apart from cleaning it up.
I've got to work out how the ladders extended with all the ropes
And, also, the electrics inside I need to sort out, as well,
because the two lights,
there's the one there that I've got to re-fix in there,
I'd like all that to work as well.
The bell is in quite a state and I'm not sure yet how that rings.
At the back of the workshop,
Will's getting to grips with the Dorset village sign,
built by the residents themselves 30 years ago.
I am beginning to clean off the old varnish,
so I'm using this dental tool.
It's really fine and really small.
There's something actually really satisfying about this.
Peeling back the years,
you can actually see some areas where whoever had carved this before
had left tiny imperfections and scratches and things.
If I went over this with sandpaper I might have lost that,
so it's quite nice to see a bit of the maker's mark.
Kirsten is running her eye over the once colourful
ceramic country landscape,
which has been growing greener with every passing season.
This side has obviously borne the brunt of the weather
and it's got quite a lot of algae and stuff growing on it,
so I'm just going to give it a little bit of a clean,
and I'm just going to try some water on a cotton wool swab
and see how that does.
Actually, that's coming off really, really well.
The team in the workshop is accustomed to working with
prized pieces from all over the globe and, this morning,
Jane Martin has arrived with precious cargo...
Hello, what a beautiful place this is.
There we go, thank you.
..an ancient artefact from the Far East.
So, what do we have here?
Here we are. Well, we've got a ceramic plate
and it felt off a shelf
and now it's in these pieces, and I feel shattered.
Did I hear ceramic?
Yes, I was about to call you over.
Hello, I'm Kirsten.
I hope you can help because
it was bought by my grandfather in the 1880s.
He was a very cultivated man.
It was already broken at the bottom here.
You will perhaps find the ancient glue and the tragedy,
it fell off a shelf to the ground and I was shattered.
And I want to hand it on to the next generation.
-And that's why it means a lot, you know,
to have it made good again.
I would love to know if you, you know,
what was it for and is it Japanese or Chinese?
Actually, I think it is Japanese.
Why would you say more Japanese than Chinese?
Well, just the Imari ware is quite typically Japanese.
Do you happen to know if all the pieces are here?
-I was about to ask the same question.
-Yes, that's all I have.
Do you know, it is really... Aesthetics mean a lot to me,
and I just love things that are beautiful
and as William Morris said,
and I'm sure you all know,
"Keep only those things in your house
"which are either beautiful or useful."
Well, I know Kirsten will do a fantastic job.
Yes, thank you very much indeed.
-Lovely, thank you.
Imari porcelain was first produced in Japan in the 17th century.
The hand-painted depictions of flora and fauna in blues, reds and golds
are highly sought-after -
when they're in one piece.
I've just realised that I think I've got a whole corner missing here.
So I think I'm going to have to make up this piece here.
So that's going to be interesting.
OK, that's a shame actually.
I was really hoping that most of it was there but, anyway,
I'm sure I'll tackle it.
Outside, the village sign's metalwork
is getting some special attention from Don.
But one piece of the sign is beyond rescue,
the old oak post,
leaving Will with the task of carving a new one from scratch.
Although the huge lump of new timber is putting up some stiff resistance.
This oak is so solid and the grain is going in so many
different directions that carving down the edge here,
it's been really hard not to split up the wood.
When you're chiselling there's always a chance
that the blade finds the grain of the wood and it follows it,
so you have bits of wood splitting off.
Once you've split it, you can't really go back.
So I've had to sort of carve it from different directions.
After overcoming his carving issues with the village sign,
Will's discovered another problem with the new wood
that's left him a little stumped.
So the post is made out of oak, which is naturally quite light,
but everything else has been carved in mahogany, which is quite dark.
So I'm going to use this stain here
to give it an overall colour to match the original mahogany.
The only problem with that is there's so much wood here
that needs staining and polishing,
and I could really do with another pair of hands.
Luckily Don's on hand to help save the day.
So I was thinking I need an apprentice.
Right, OK. Yeah. Happy to help.
-Bring it on. Yeah, no worries.
So what I'm doing is I'm applying it to the surface,
then using the tissue to, sort of, blend it in,
because if you go on too heavy
then it almost looks like it's just been painted.
Yeah, you don't want to lose all this nice grain.
Then if you rub it in,
you can still see that it's the mahogany
and you can still see the grain.
I think I can do that. Shall I start on this bit?
You sure can.
Can I stipple this, or what do you want to do?
-How am I doing?
Yeah, good. You've got the job.
I don't know what all the fuss is about.
Across the workshop,
Steve is rebooting a one-of-a-kind fire engine.
It was made during the Second World War and was a fully functioning
replica of the real thing.
I've got the turntable ladder device there.
That's obviously coming from
some device from the Dennis factory.
I've got this switch unit there that goes on top.
That looks a lot, lot better now.
And I've got to paint the railings of this ladder section
before I polish it up,
because I don't want any polish to get onto the railings
before I polish it, because the paint won't take.
The three extending ladders have been out of action for decades.
All Steve's technical expertise is required here.
I'm repairing the ladder at the moment
and there is an issue with it,
because this hole here where the string goes through
has actually cut a little slot just in the hole,
and that is actually making the string that goes through it bind.
So it was no wonder that the ladder wouldn't raise.
So I've actually made a bush that I'm going to put in there,
and I've rounded either end
so that the string will slide through it nicely,
and that should rectify the problem forever.
Although there's been a slight hitch.
I wanted to put the original bell back on,
so I put a screw in there and the screw came through
and actually broke a coil, one of the wires on the coil, there.
So what I've had to do is take a lot of the coil off...
..solder it up and then put it back again and it should...
There we go, sounds a bit like a fire engine.
Or a doorbell.
Kirsten is preparing to put together all of the broken pieces
of the antique Japanese porcelain.
I just want to...
..see if I can get this animal glue off, this old adhesive.
Yeah, that's coming off quite nicely, actually.
It's quite satisfying.
It's really important to make sure that all the exposed break edges,
erm, are really, really clean.
Any old adhesive is removed
and, if you just have one of them that's out of alignment,
it actually can put the whole piece out of alignment.
So one join's wrong,
it then, sort of, goes on to the next join
and actually you just don't get a very good bond.
With the Victorian glue removed,
this porcelain jigsaw puzzle
can begin to be pieced back together.
So I think I'm going to try and make it into, sort of,
two large sections, and then join the two pieces together.
So it needs really, really thorough mixing, this adhesive.
You basically have to mix it
for as long as you can bear to mix it and then mix it a bit more.
I'm just going to put the tape on now. There we go.
And, hopefully, that way I'll get a really good, tight stick.
I'm quite pleased with the way that's gone together, actually.
But this puzzle is missing a piece,
which Kirsten is going to have to rebuild using a ceramic resin.
As it's such a large area,
I'm going to support the area with some dental wax
and then actually fill on top of that.
Kirsten must draw on all her years of experience
to replicate the centuries-old porcelain.
I'm just hoping that I can actually get the translucency
and the colour right.
It's always quite difficult with something like this.
I start off with some white pigment...
..a cerulean blue, and just take a few tiny grains of pigment.
Pop them to the side there.
So hopefully that's the sort of blue colour.
So I'm going to add in some yellow ochre,
and immediately you can see
that that gives it the sort of, the warmth.
Try it out on a small area.
It's quite difficult when you do a fill that's this big and this deep,
but it's just a case of trial and error, actually.
Now Kirsten has got the Japanese porcelain bowl
back in one piece again,
including the missing part that she's lovingly recreated.
The prominent cut-out section on the rim is a clue
to the bowl's original purpose.
Now, what is that anyway?
It's actually primarily, I think, probably a barber's bowl.
But, equally, it can be used for blood-letting.
Which is what? What's a blood-letting bowl?
In ancient times, they would basically bleed you.
It's actually used as a sort of medical practice
for treating all sorts of various illnesses.
-But you offer it up to the neck
and presumably do whatever you're going to do.
Sounds a bit Sweeney Todd to me.
Yeah. I was going to demonstrate, but I don't know if it's bad luck.
I don't want to put a curse on myself. But...
Can you hold it with two hands?
-I'm going to hold it with two hands.
-If you're having a shave...
And then if you're letting, then it's more like something like that.
Back outside, all that remains is to carefully piece
the jigsaw back together
before the sign can be to pride of place on the village green.
-Are we there?
We're almost there, yeah. We just need to attach this last piece
which is the ceramic bit, which is very fragile.
-Then just pop it on the post and then it's done.
OK, cool. So you don't need my help. I should go.
Well... Well, do you know what?
-You're such a strapping, strong, young man...
We thought we could do with some of that strength.
Got the supervision we need.
-You sure this is the right way round?
-Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
-Pop it on that now.
Yeah, if you just bring it over for us.
He's sweating, look at his face!
Trying to pretend it's not heavy! It's easy, mate.
Go on, go on. Twist it. There we are.
-Whack it in.
-You want a hammer?
-Oh, look. Look at that.
-One, two, three.
-What are you doing?
Put your back into it, man!
-Look at it. It looks amazing.
What do you think, Jay, you happy?
-You've done a brilliant job.
-Thank you very much.
Now all that's left to do is return the sign to Dorset,
and the two villagers who brought it to the repair shop, John and Kevin.
It was in a bit of a sorry state.
All green and mildew on the top.
I don't think they'll ever get it back as good as the original sign.
I don't think that's possible.
So I'm anxious to see it now, to see really what they have done.
John, Kevin, and some of the other locals
are gathering for the sign's grand unveiling,
back on the village green where it was first erected 30 years ago.
Without further ado,
I'd like to invite Kevin and John to unveil the sign.
Five, four, three, two, one...
This is actually wonderful because, you know,
the sign is part of the history of the village,
and you can see the results of what's been going on.
They've done a top job. It's almost like it was new.
But aged beautifully.
I thought the bottom post was the original post,
but I understand that it's been replaced.
It's just wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.
I'm really, really pleased that it's turned out great.
So, thank you.
Back at the repair shop,
Kirsten has been slowly but surely piecing together
the much-loved Japanese bowl.
This, for me, is the most enjoyable part.
I've done all the coloured fills
and it's now just putting on this decoration.
It's quite nerve-racking.
I do have to keep a very, very steady hand,
and I generally don't breathe when I do it, so...
Now owner Jane is back to see if the bowl
that holds so many memories
can be returned to pride of place at home.
It does mean a lot, this plate, cos I've lived with it all my life.
So this is the moment of great excitement,
and I can't wait to see it.
-How are you doing? Are you all right?
-OK, thank you, yes.
Come on. Let's go and meet Kirsten.
Lovely to see you again.
-You too. The moment I've been waiting for!
So, the last time you saw it, it was in about 12 pieces, wasn't it?
It was. It was awful and ghastly and a tale of woe as ever there was.
There you are.
I am blown over, completely.
I'm so delighted.
I can't... I'm not normally lost for words but I am!
Do you know what, Kirsten? I tried to mend an egg cup,
and I made a complete mess of it, so I am just amazed at this!
It's better than it was before!
-Oh, I can't believe that.
-It sparkles, it really does.
A ruin has been made good again to enjoy, a much treasured,
-Oh, bless. Look at that.
-You're very, very kind.
-She's good, isn't she?
She's just the very best.
Kirsten, I'm so pleased in every way.
So, thank you every ever so much.
You're welcome. It's been an absolute pleasure.
Steve is giving a treasured toy fire engine a complete overhaul
to bring it back into service.
I'm really pleased with it all.
So, I've just got to put the turntable on...
That's working well, I think.
Yep. And it's just a matter of putting the ladder on there.
Final bits. It's all strung.
I think I'll...
tie the rope on once it's in situ.
I think that might be easier.
It's at this stage I'm really hoping that the ladder extends all right.
If it doesn't, then back to the drawing board.
This is great.
I'm relieved, absolutely relieved.
Good. All done.
The engine's very proud owner, Mervyn,
is back to collect his favourite old toy.
I am feeling a little bit anxious today,
because I remember just how fine it was when I was young.
It's been like a little bit of conscience on the shelf
for about 30 years,
you know, slowly getting dustier.
And I hope he's been able to wind the clock back.
-How are you?
Like going to the doctor, isn't it?
I'm a bit anxious, Doctor.
I hope you're going to treat me well.
What are you expecting?
It needed a lot of love and care and attention.
And my fingers... Everything's crossed.
..let me unveil it.
Oh, my gosh!
Oh, my... Gosh!
I don't even... Wow!
Steve, that is amazing. I think it's better than it was.
That fire extinguisher was never that brassy, either.
Can I play with it?
-We'll do the lights first,
cos I think you should put the lights on first.
Astonishing. They haven't glowed...
Oh, there's one... Do you know, I don't even remember...
We didn't talk about that one!
I don't remember that one at all!
Yup, it was there.
Amazing. Can I go for the bell now?
Yes, you can.
That's so nice.
-Can I do the ladder?
-Of course you can.
Now, what we have to do here...
Well, you will know this now, I knew it...
And you've done all of the wires as well!
Oh, just amazing.
Isn't it amazing? Oh, God, I've got to do this.
This is winding the clock back considerably.
-It's lovely to have memories like that.
Yeah. And you've brought them back to life.
It's beautiful. Steven, thank you.
That is amazing.
You're very, very welcome.
It's quite interesting, memory, isn't it?
You have these things tucked away, some things you can remember,
words of a song, or something,
and suddenly somebody shows you something
and it just seems to unlock a room of memories.
So it's fantastic, it's great.
Join us next time, as more treasured items are brought back to life.
Clockmaker and former retained firefighter Steve Fletcher gets the chance to work on a toy replica of an early Dennis fire engine. But this is not an ordinary child's toy; this one-off piece was built by one of the mechanics at the real Dennis fire engine factory.
Ceramics restoration expert Kirsten Ramsay pieces together a beautiful Japanese Imari bowl that has been smashed to bits, and reveals the gruesome purpose behind its design.
And the whole Repair Shop team comes together to save a weathered piece of Dorset history - a unique village sign, made up of metal, wood and ceramic parts all originally created by craftspeople who lived in the village.