While in general the unit was in very good condition, especially considering its age, there were some small bits of damage in places and some things we felt we would like to refurbish. The story of the refurbishment can be followed on the restoration page, and we will post further photographs below as we progress with this project. Clicking on any of the images below will present a larger, more detailed image
To start with, here are some photographs of the unit in the state that we originally purchased it.
The front of the unit showing the overall layout of the rooms in the unit. The motor that drives the animation is cleverly hidden in kitchen (bottom right) behind the yellow wall which was made to look like a pantry or utility room. The motor gear-box produces two independent speeds making the two attached rods move up and down at two different speeds. Hence the puppet movements are animated to suit each action. The two rods pass up through the wardrobe in the nursery to two of the overhead rails which run along the back of the unit. Attached to these rails are eyelets from which the strings that drive the actual puppet animation are attached. The two rails at the back have cross bars connecting to two further rails at the front to provide animation to puppets nearer the front of the unit. A very clever design by Bob Pelham. All the animated units, large or small, made by the factory worked on this basic principle.
Room 1: Top Left
This bedroom scene contains 6 puppets, including Bengo the dog, everyone's favourite as he sweeps the floor clean with his feather. Micky has had a special foot made so that his original foot can be used as a slipper which he warms in front of the fire. On the back wall, you can see that there are no windows behind the curtains, a feature we plan to improve upon. The curtains themselves are not level.
Room 2: Top Right
The nursery contains 6 puppets, though the girl carrying the hot-water bottle is hardly visible behind the old man. The cat with his custom made fish skeleton seems out of place in this room, so may be repositioned during our refurbishment project. The rods driving the animation can just be made out poking up through the top of the wardrobe.
Room 3: Bottom Left
The dining room contains seven puppets plus the original christmas tree and presents. Aside from the tree and cracker being pulled by the two puppets at the table, there isn't a lot of Christmas feel to the room. Or other rooms of the unit come to that. So we plan to try and improve on the overall Christmas atmosphere with things like paper chains hanging from the ceiling (mind those puppet strings!) and other decorations from around the 1960's era.
Room 4: Bottom Right
The kitchen contains five puppets, including the unexpected snake which has been put in a bucket, probably to add humour to the scene. The clock pendulum has also been animated, but over the years this has become rather crooked and so is on the list of items to repair as we go along. For such a large household, there isn't much food on the table or shelves, so we plan to have them preparing a much more magnificent Christmas feast. An iced cake has already been added and can just be seen on the lower green shelf behind the maid with feather duster. Some damage to the floor can be seen here, probably from when the very heavy unit was put down on top of something on the floor.