Jay Blades and the team repair a World War I plane propeller, a rusted shoe-stretching machine and two badly damaged windows rescued from a Victorian variety theatre.
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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 some of my work becomes a 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,
revive and rejuvenate
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 is stumped by a precious wartime clock.
I'm just too nervous that it's going to actually end in tears.
And Dom comes unstuck with some heavy metal.
I've come so far, we're so close now to getting it completely apart.
I can't leave it. I've got to try and get it off.
But first in the Repair Shop,
actress Anne Marriott has brought a fragile reminder of her late husband.
-All right? I'll take that for you.
-Thank you very much.
The man for this job is resident stained-glass craftsman Matt Nickels.
-Hi, there, I'm Matt.
Let's have a look at this, then.
What are we opening here?
These are pieces of glass
that my husband rescued from an old music hall theatre, the Old Bedford,
when it was being sort of finally demolished.
These pieces, I guess, must have come perhaps from
in-between the auditorium and, say, the bar at the back.
-To indicate to people where their seats were.
-Oh, that goes in there.
-Yeah, the orchestra.
-I think this...
-This one's boxes.
-The posh seats, I guess.
The posh seats? OK.
The Bedford Theatre opened in Camden, North London, in 1899,
and was a much-loved variety venue until it closed 60 years later.
It lay derelict before it was finally demolished.
-Your husband rescued them?
I have a vision in my mind of him sort of stumbling over fallen masonry,
discovering these dusty objects,
fishing them out and realising the treasures they are.
Must have fallen in love with them, really.
Sadly, after his death,
they spent years wrapped in newspaper and up in an attic.
What do you reckon, can you do something with these?
I can, I can indeed.
It's nice when you look at this one that there's no broken glass.
This one is obviously part of a bigger window,
so you can see all of the lead has been cut at the joints there.
So from a kind of restoration point of view,
I think this one is going to be the easiest one.
So if you leave them with us,
Matt is definitely going to work his magic
and restore them back to their former glory.
That will be absolutely wonderful.
-Thanks a bunch.
-Yeah. Thanks very much.
-Take care now.
To have them looking the way they are supposed to look,
well, it would have been wonderful if that could have happened while Sean was alive
because if we would go to the theatre together,
then we'd be admiring the same sorts of things
in these sorts of buildings, actually.
-Now, that's a nice story, isn't it?
-That's a really nice story.
It's kind of taken from the theatre.
-Her husband was in the theatre.
-She's in the theatre.
-And now the theatre is going to be in her house.
-So you're going to bring them right back up to date...
-Spruce them up.
-And make them look good, yeah?
-Yeah, I am indeed, yeah.
What I need to do is take them over to your bench.
-Yeah, all right.
-Come on, then.
Family heirlooms are special for many reasons,
and some of them have extraordinary stories to tell.
Tom Ridgeway and his brother Tony
have brought along a particularly treasured possession
that is steeped in history.
-Hi, I'm Steve.
They are hoping that horologist Steve can lend his expertise.
Here we are. Right, what have we got?
-A propeller clock.
I think there's a little bit of woodwork that needs doing on this, as well.
Will? Have a look at this.
That's really cool.
The propeller means a lot to us as a family,
because it was the propeller from my father's aeroplane,
which he crash-landed after being shot down in the First World War.
Yeah. He was in the Leicestershire Regiment to start with
and when the Flying Corps started,
he volunteered immediately for the Flying Corps.
Not a lot of people would have survived
crash-landing an aircraft in those days.
No. I mean, he was quite badly injured, apparently.
And did he talk much of the days of flying?
Now, tell me about the clock. What's wrong with it?
It doesn't work.
Well, we're going to make it into a working clock again.
And we'll fix the base so that it's tight and will work well again.
-Yeah, that'll be great, yeah.
-Brilliant. Thank you very much.
-Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
A great bit of history behind that.
-I know. It's a pretty cool clock, isn't it?
I mean, you think if Tony's father had been killed...
-..then all of the generations wouldn't be here.
It's such an important piece to them.
To know what that's been through, it's quite nice if we manage to salvage that.
Steve's first job is to remove the outdated electrical mechanism
from the clock and replace it with a quartz one.
Battery-powered, a piece of crystal quartz
produces a regular electric pulse that keeps the time.
I'm just going to pop the movement out now.
I just need to snip the wire off. That's the easy bit.
And this should just push out.
It's a bit tight.
It's completely bunged up and, er...I think that's quite dangerous.
It's mains electric. It's been soldered badly here and here,
so that could be shock danger or a fire danger,
so it's a good job we're taking it out
and putting a quartz movement in it.
I'm actually thinking now that the dial is plastic.
Now that I've taken that part out,
I can give the case to Will.
Stained-glass restorer Matt is in the midst of repairing
two treasured windows rescued from a demolished Victorian theatre.
So we've got the drawing here.
I'm just taking the outside lead off and just teasing this out.
There we go.
When you're taking apart the window, putting it onto here,
it's very important to make sure that they go on immediately.
You don't want to mix anything up at all.
You could have what seems to be two symmetrical triangles,
one on each side,
but when it comes to actually making the window,
chances are they might be slightly off,
the angles might be slightly different.
The difficulty will come in building a replica of the original window.
-What are you up to now?
-Hi there, Steve.
-It looks like you're wrecking a piece of glass.
-It does, doesn't it?
Well, these are the original pieces that came in.
One of them was fully intact.
-Whereas the other one, you can see here
that there was just the central section and none of the outer part to it.
So these, I actually salvaged about five or six years ago,
so this is all original Victorian glass.
-And it's going to be the best match I can get
for the tints for this piece.
Do you have loads and loads of bits of old glass like this?
I've probably got too much, maybe,
but, you know, at some point, yeah, you might use them.
-So all of that's missing?
-All of that is missing, yeah.
-So I've set myself quite a big job.
Many of the items that pass through the doors of the Repair Shop
are reminders not just of family history, but of working life.
Right, OK, cool.
-If you follow me in.
-I will do.
Dom, I've got one for you, mate.
Maggie Collis has brought in a highly unusual piece of equipment
that's been in her family for over 100 years.
And there it is.
All right. So I've gathered it's heavy and it's metal.
Yes, and it's very rusty.
It sounds perfect for me, this.
So, please tell me, what is this?
-It's a shoe stretcher.
-A shoe stretcher?
If you've got a pair of shoes you really like
and your feet are just not quite right for the shoes,
-you can stretch the shoes and then you can wear them.
The shoe goes on there and that turns and that alters this and these...
-Push these in and out.
-It's a clever thing.
-It is a clever thing. It's very clever.
It was my father's and his father's before him.
They had a shoe-repairing shop.
So, where was this shop, then?
It was in a place called Southall in Middlesex.
OK. And why do you want to get this restored, then?
Why do you want it done up now?
It's such a reminder of my childhood.
Because I used to work in the shop from the age of about six
and I used to do all the change and the money and what for people.
-And it's the only thing I've got left, really,
of my father's whole lifestyle.
Well, don't worry, we'll...
-You'll look after it.
-We'll look after it, exactly.
So, Dom, what do you reckon?
30-odd years in the shed has taken its toll, but...
-That's a very kind way of putting it.
But it's all there. It just depends how far you want to go, really,
with the paint, things like that.
Do you want to preserve some of the history of this old, flaky paint?
If it was painted red, it would be fantastic,
-because it would just be as it was.
-As it was.
-As you remember it.
-Just as I remember it for all those years.
If you leave it with us, Dom is going to work his magic on it
and as soon as he's done it and got it looking red again, we'll get back to you.
-That will be wonderful.
-That all right?
-Thanks for coming.
-Nice to meet you.
Metal-worker Dom is used to dealing with seized-up machinery,
but this shoemaker's gadget has been rusting for over 30 years
and could really test his mettle.
This is not strawberry smoothie in here.
It's actually a mix of automatic gearbox fluid
and acetone. Mixed 50/50.
It's a bit of an old sort of farmer's trick from back in the day.
Just working it in with a brush, a stiff brush,
working it into all the little areas.
There's lots of small bolts and bits we need to free up.
I'm going to leave it in overnight,
come back in the morning and see what the results are.
The Repair Shop team is also working on a much-loved clock
embedded in an aircraft propeller.
Woodwork expert Will has taken on
the job of reviving the mahogany case.
In this jar, I have a secret concoction
that I've made up to clean off waxy surfaces and dirty surfaces.
Look at that. Decades of dirt on there.
You can see already it's a lot clearer.
You can actually see the lettering a lot better.
Once I've done that, I can give it a bit of polish
with a natural shellac polish,
which is what you use for French-polishing furniture.
While Will continues his clean-up operation,
Steve has a rather grimy dial on his hands.
He's hoping Kirsten might be able to help get it sparkling again.
Right, a bit of advice.
It's a one-piece plastic dial. Um...
It's had some pretty dirty oil in the back there, on the mechanism,
and it's just stained that.
I'd love to just dip it in some detergent and wash it off,
but I can't because I'm concerned that I'll take the numerals off.
Yeah. Have you tried anything on it yet?
-No, I haven't.
Shall we just have a go with some acetone first of all,
-just to try and remove some of this grease?
-I don't think it's made any difference at all.
I did wonder about putting some bleach,
but I don't know what'll happen to the rest of the plastic.
The trouble is, it's quite difficult to control it, really, isn't it?
I'm a bit nervous.
Do you know what, I think, actually, we're going to leave it.
-I'm just too nervous that it's going to actually end in tears.
With glass harvested from his own salvaged pieces,
Matt can begin rebuilding the windows
of the stained-glass theatre panels.
First, he's creating the surround
for the smaller panel completely from scratch.
At this stage here, you can see these are just
pieces of glass that don't have any housing on them yet.
So here, you've got your lead knife to cut your lead, like this.
Then you're going to use a horseshoe nail.
And these horseshoe nails are basically keeping it
Once all the glass is encased in new lead,
the entire piece can be secured with solder.
It's looking really good.
Outside, metal-worker Dom is tackling a cast-iron device
that's riddled with rust.
The shoe stretcher's had its bath overnight in the pink solution.
That's penetrated in as much as it can.
First job I'm going to try and do is just try and free up this heel part
because it's still...impossible to turn.
I'm going to warm up the block, so as it gets hot,
it will expand ever so slightly. A tiny, tiny amount.
Just expand a little bit to try and break that rust joint.
OK. That should be enough.
Let's have a look.
This dial here will turn that, so that should start moving.
I've heated up in there. I'm just going to give it a little tap.
I don't really want to be hitting it with a hammer too much.
It's obviously as fragile as anything.
Sometimes the shock of hitting it just frees up.
Just starting to move now.
A little bit of oil.
There we go.
I'm really pleased. It just shows that red potion did its job.
It looked like it was almost ready for the scrap pile, it was so rusty,
but it's well on the way now.
Good place to get the rest of it freed up, as well.
Meanwhile, Steve's managed to give the plastic dial
on the propeller clock a gentle polish.
Now he's got to get it ticking again.
I'm now just going to pop the new movement in,
so this is just a simple quartz movement.
So all I need to do now is to make these hands fit onto the movement.
The brass centre of this hand, which is called a collet,
I need to modify that so that it fits the new movement.
That means I've got to make the hole slightly bigger
so it just fits onto the movement friction tight.
It's almost there, not quite.
So I need to just take the tiniest, tiniest fraction off,
and then it will be ready to go into the clock case.
But Will and Jay are still deciding on the best way to iron out
the imperfections in the 100-year-old mahogany propeller.
That's brought that right out.
So, I think you can see here, there's a chip on the base.
-Oh, yeah. Yeah.
-So what I intend to do
is fill that out and use a really thin layer of polish
so I can use some pigments in that layer of polish to disguise that fill.
-OK. Cool. You're doing good, mate.
Once the chip is filled,
Will carefully blends in his repair
until the damage is completely camouflaged.
Matt is putting his all into restoring
two cherished stained-glass windows.
Now assembled, he makes sure lead and glass
are bonded together for years to come.
So this is the part I really enjoy.
I put the cement over the window
and then it sets and creates a watertight seal
and also makes the window very rigid and strong.
A big dollop around the edge.
It does feel a bit naughty, when you put all these on.
You've got this nice kind of crisp, clean-lined window
and you're just putting all of this
kind of like cake mix on top of it.
I wouldn't eat this cake mix, though.
And what you're looking to do is make sure that
it goes underneath the lead.
So a good way to do this -
I was taught by a guy called Trev the Lead -
and he said, you go up like this,
then you turn the piece 90 degrees
and you do it again.
And then just do it until you're back at the beginning again.
Just got to wait a little bit and that's going to set.
Meanwhile, Dom's dismantling the cast-iron shoe stretcher
so that he can clean every individual component.
But there's one stubborn bolt holding up the whole operation.
I've come so far, we are so close to just getting it completely apart.
I can't...I can't leave it. I've got to try and get it off.
It seems like it's moving.
There we go.
That's really good.
The pieces are finally ready for a long overdue deep clean.
You can see some of the old, really old bits of pitting, just from use,
wear and tear. I think it would be a shame to get rid of all of that
history and patina there,
so I'm just going to polish the surface and leave some of that.
Obviously an old piece, so it's nice to keep some of the...
some of the character in there.
Now Dom must paint all the pieces just as Maggie remembers them.
The Repair Shop has also been breathing life back into
another important piece of family history.
Tom has returned to collect what he hopes will be a constant ticking
reminder of his late grandfather's service and bravery.
-How are you?
-Good to see you.
You, too. Excited to be here.
Yeah, I'm sure you are. I'll get your clock.
-There we go.
-Wow, that looks amazing!
-And it's saying about the right time as well.
-It is. That was lucky!
So I've taken the old mechanism out.
-I've exchanged it for a battery quartz mechanism.
-So it's a lot safer now.
-The old mechanism was really quite dangerous.
-The dial is actually a plastic dial.
-Is it? Oh, right, I didn't realise that.
-So there's not a lot we could do...
-Do with it.
-Apart from just clean it the way we have.
And Will has polished the case up beautifully.
Yeah, it looks amazing. My dad will be very, very pleased.
Thank you very much for bringing it in. That was a real joy to work on.
-Thank you for all your work on it. It looks amazing.
After cleaning and painting all of the components
of the ancient shoe stretcher,
Dom is now painstakingly piecing them back together.
Because all these parts have been stripped and dipped
and blasted and everything else,
all the moving parts are just dry.
So as I assemble it, I'm just going to just keep greasing up the parts.
Definitely looks different. I'm a bit anxious to see her reaction, actually.
The shoe stretcher from Maggie's parents' shop
had been rusting away in her garden shed for over 30 years.
She's ready to be united with this treasured slice of family history.
-How are we doing?
-Fine, thank you. You?
-I'm very good.
-Good to see you again.
-OK. Shall we let her see it?
-Yeah, come on.
Oh, wow! I can't believe it!
-And it's red, as well.
-It's red, yeah.
Look at that! It's shiny!
I can't believe it! How did you manage that?
-It was a lot of work.
And all the lines on here that you've put on
and all the markings, absolutely brilliant!
-A bit of character.
-It looks lovely.
Where you've cleaned this all up, you can see the marks around here.
-It's amazing. Very well done.
Did it take you hours and hours?
Getting it apart was tricky, yeah.
Yeah, it was a lot of work.
So, when was the last time you saw this working, then?
Well, I must have been somewhere about 15, I would think.
-And I'm not going to say how long ago that was.
-But it was a very, very long time.
-A couple of weeks ago, yeah?
Now, I have brought with me a pair of shoes.
So you're going to place it on here, then you need to get...
-Come forwards with that.
-That comes forward.
Now you need to pull that back to make the shoe tight on.
-Keep going. Yeah, keep going. That's it.
So now it's on there firm, now you want to stretch this, so you're going to...
-Can you see how that's coming open?
But I wouldn't do it more than that now.
Leave it on for two days and just gradually,
gradually stretch the leather out.
Looking at this now, it's just fantastic.
And it brings back so many memories.
I can almost see it sitting there beside my father as he was working.
-Glad you're happy.
-Yeah, very happy.
I'll be happier when I can wear the shoes.
-When you can wear the shoes!
My friends are going to come with their shoes...
They'll bring their shoes. You'll be working again.
-I shall have lots of tea parties.
Fantastic! I can't believe you've made it look like that.
-Thank you very much indeed.
I really had grave doubts that anybody could get it to work,
never mind get it to work and look so fantastic.
It's a great memento.
Really, really pleased.
The Victorian theatre windows
that Matt's been restoring are nearly done.
But he needs Will to help him get them over the line.
-Hi, there, Will.
-Hey, there, buddy.
-What do you think of these, then?
Looking a bit messy, isn't it?
It looks like a flock of pigeons
have been hanging out on your stained glass.
-That looks filthy.
Well, this is pretty much the final bit. This is the cement.
When I've cleaned it, it's going to be nice, crisp lines.
So I just need to really concentrate on these
to make them look really special,
but we said we were going to do a frame.
-For both of them?
You look like you've got a lot to do.
-I will help you out and get onto those frames.
Anne is back to see the theatre windows
that are such a powerful reminder of her late husband.
-Hi, there, Anne.
-Do you want to come around here with me?
-Right. It's very exciting.
This is wonderful!
There you go.
And the colours are just wonderful.
I...I can't believe how...
I can't believe how much light is coming through, actually.
It sparkles. It really, really does.
-It's beautiful, Matt.
-Thank you very much indeed.
-That's all right.
And then the other one you brought in was just the central piece.
-And it was in a bit more of a sorry state.
-It was, it was.
-I'll show you what I've done with that one.
So there you go.
That's...that's amazing, Matt!
Because you only had...you only had the central bit to work with.
Yep, we did.
So, what happened...?
So you've recreated all of that, haven't you, around...?
Yep. I actually saved a couple of Victorian windows
from going into a skip from a building site probably about six years ago
and I realised that they've got the same colour tints as these,
-so I was able to basically...
-..use original glass...
How lucky is this?
So, I mean, what do you think it would have meant to your husband
to have this kind of restored...?
Oh, he'd be...he'd be over the moon.
This is...this is wonderful.
I'm staggered. Really, honestly.
I can't thank you enough. I can't thank you enough.
They're going to be extremely special,
my theatrical windows.
It's just fantastic.
I've got two beautiful pieces.
They're full of life again.
They'll bring good old Sean back, but in a very happy way, actually.
And that's priceless.
I can't quite believe it, honestly. It's lovely.
Join us next time as more extraordinary treasures
are rescued and restored in The Repair Shop.
Oh, my word!
Resident horologist Steve Fletcher works on a clock that was fashioned from the propeller of a plane that crash-landed in France during World War I. Passed down through the injured pilot's family, Steve must get this piece of history working for future generations.
Metal expert Dominic Chinea brings his skills to bear on a rusted and seized-up shoe-stretching machine, one of the few reminders of owner Maggie's parents and their shoe shop.
And stained glass expert Matthew Nickels takes on a tricky challenge - restoring two badly damaged windows which were rescued from a Victorian variety theatre shortly before its demolition.