BBC’s Restoration Roadshow is a refreshing change from other antiques programmes. Series 1 is currently re-airing on BBC2, meaning there’s another chance for viewers in Preston and Cumbria to see Victorian dining chairs , antique chests and other cherished, tatty heirlooms restored to their former glory.
The first show, which was recorded in Lancashire, saw two antique dining chairs painstakingly restored for their owner by expert furniture restorer Tim Akers. Episode 5, recorded at Burghley and available on BBC iPlayer, saw him bring a rare antique desk back to life with the same craftsmanship. If you’ve ever wondered how antique dealers in Lancashire find antique desks that are so perfect and free of damage, a lot of it is down to wood dye, a fine paint brush – and cannibalised Victorian dining chairs.
Popular host Eric Knowles was quick to see the value of Restoring the “chipped and battered” antique writing desk, despite serious damage to the veneers. A Victorian rarity with a built-in writing slope, in its current state it was worth around £150, but fully restored could be expected to sell for around £800 at auction. With the owner agreeing to pay the restoration fee of £300, Tim set to work painstakingly replacing the missing veneers with new pieces cut from salvaged furniture of the same period. To get an exact match, he utilized a palette of wood dyes, applied with a fine paint brush to achieve the correct grain and texture. The end result was indistinguishable from the original.
Many of the antique desks and Victorian dining chairs you see at Preston antique dealers have been restored to the same high quality.
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