The Repair Shop's Steve Fletcher feels 'real heartbreak' after restoring family business heritage

Steve Fletcher

Steve was left blown away with the heritage of the item

BBC
Lauren Williams

By Lauren Williams


Published: 12/06/2024

- 22:08

Updated: 27/06/2024

- 15:39

The expert is a generation horologist who has been on the BBC show since 2017

The Repair Shop expert Steve Fletcher felt a connection with a recent restoration after the guests revealed it was part of their family business which had been an integral part of World War One.

In a new episode of the BBC restoration show, brothers Nick and Chris Leek entered the barn to see if Fletcher was able to bring their dynamometer back to life.


Placing it on the table, Nick explained: "It's called a dynamometer. It's for measuring the strength of twine which was used to make sand bags, or coal bags or wheat bags.

"If you buy a sandbag and that burst they wouldn't be very happy would they?" before Chris added: "It was the first thing I had to do when I joined the family business at 18. They said 'Chris you've got to test the strength of the twine'."

When asked how long it had been in the family, Nick revealed: "We think it goes back to about the 1700s. Our father was in the business, grandfather, and even before, several grandfathers."

Chris added that he worked in the business for 42 years and was saddened when his father had to inform his sons and the workers the factory was closing down.

The Repair Shop

The dynamometer had been in the business since its inception

BBC

Explaining how the machine worked, Nick said: "You used to get some of the twine and put a bit on here, and then we used to wind up the handle on the end and as you can see it is getting tighter and tighter.

"Unfortunately this part of it doesn't work at the moment. When this breaks, that will stop going around and will tell you what the breaking strain is."

He added that there was a long list of items they supplied for the British Army, including 200,000 sandbags to the Belgian government for the First World War, also making nesting covers, and mattress covers for the troops.

The brothers asked Fletcher if he could dust it off, clean up the brass on the dial and buff the woodwork, before leaving the expert to it and getting his hands on the inside of the dial.

The Repair Shop

Steve had worked tirelessly on restoring the dynamometer

BBC

On first inspection, Fletcher said: "What an amazing piece of machinery. This is such well-made quirkiness. I really empathise with Chris and Nick having to close their business down after generations because I have come from a long line of craftspeople.

"And for me to close down the business would be a real heartbreak so it must have been really sad and it really does signify what they did in the factory. It is all very tired and I think it would be nice if it was polished up.

"So I will certainly hand over the wooden part to Will. It is always nice to take things apart that I have never taken apart before, to see how things work."

After spending days on the restoration, it was time for the brothers to return to the barn and see the machine in its new form.

The Repair Shop

Nick and Chris were left stunned at the restoration

BBC

Unveiling it, Chris exclaimed to his brother: "Oh Nick... that is superb," before he replied: "I never expected it to look anything like that."

Overwhelmed with the outcome, Chris added: "That is lovely, it really is lovely. You have done a cracking job there Steve you really have. Tingles are going up my back now.

"It is a fabulous feeling and the history of our family."

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