Restoration Project

Although we don't know exactly what the display unit originally looked like or know about all the changes that have happened to it over the years, the evidence still on the unit at the time we purchased it shows us that quite a lot of changes have been made to it over time:


Many original eyelets in the overhead mechanism are still present but no longer have a string attached. There are holes in the floors of the upper rooms for strings to pass through to the downstairs rooms but that are not used now. Both of these are indicators of changes to the puppets, or puppet positions, over the years. David Leech has confirmed that he replaced some puppets himself whilst it was being maintained in 1981.


Some of the other modifications made over the years we feel have not been up to an expected standard. Such as some original pictures, which must have been in picture frames, have been pulled off the walls for some reason at some point, leaving rough bits behind which have simply been painted over with wall colour. Then they were replaced with poor quality pictures, probably cut from a magazine, and simply stuck straight onto the wall without any attempt of replicating a frame. They don't even follow the Christmas theme and were too small to even cover the marks left behind from the original pictures.


Nice curtains were added to some walls, but no attempt was made to put a window behind them, so they are open to plain wall paper which looks rather strange.


Items such as the lights on the Christmas tree were from a more recent time than the mid 1960s and looked out of character. Being designed for a normal sized Christmas tree, they were of a scale far too large for the unit. They were also not working when we purchased it, but this is a small problem and will be rectified when we replace the lights with something more in scale. As it happens, we will replace the tree as well, as we have found something a little nicer than the tree in place at the time, even though there wasn't really anything badly wrong with it, only the lights.


We also removed some of the runners holding the front perspex in place and found that the colour scheme on the front of the unit had been repainted, because behind the runners, the original paintwork was still there. This showed that it was originally splashed with white paint in a snow covered effect. However, the unit only had a plain red brickwork finish now, with no snow effect visible. When we initially contacted David Leech, he confirmed all the external faces of the unit had been repainted, though he didn't mention if he covered over the snow effect himself, or if it was already like that.

As the unit has obviously gone through a lot of changes in its time, we do not feel we now have to try and restore it back to its original condition. Besides, we don't know exactly what it looked like originally anyway, though we will continue to try and find out more if we can. So we plan to restore it, keeping to the spirit of its original title, "The Night before Christmas" and keep the decoration style to around 1965. We feel we can make changes to the rooms and puppets as we feel acceptable to this end and will try to restore this wonderful display unit to a look and feel we think Bob and David would be proud of themselves. Pictures of the unit in its original state when we purchased have been placed on the gallery page, which will be added to with further photographs showing the progress during the various stages of our restoration project.