A few years ago the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow rolled in to the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle.
It is one of the most imposing buildings in the whole of the North of England. Built in the style of a classic French Chateau by John and Josephine Bowes in the late nineteenth century
My wife and I have always been loyal fans of the Roadshow show, despite the fact that it’s Chief Presenter, Newsreader Fiona Bruce, seems to hog most of the shows 60 minutes.
It’s been running for as long as I can remember, and even though it has been to this region a number of times, this was the first time we had joined the queue, hoping our heirlooms would realise a fortune, and maybe earn a place among the other ceramic treasures and paintings and in the beautiful Bowes Museum .
Perhaps heirlooms isn’t exactly the right word. Some years ago a very good friend of my wife’s mother gave us a pair of quite large and attractive fruit dishes, made by the Macintyre Factory circa 1899 – 1902.
What I believe is a transfer in the centre of both dishes is a cartoon of a somewhat disheveled and war weary young soldier holding a rifle, and underneath the transfer is a poem written by Rudyard Kipling entitled “The Absent Minded Beggar”.
I had previously done a little research and discovered that several pieces were produced by the MacIntyre factory, for sale through the Daily Mail to raise money for returning soldiers from the Boer War. A forerunner of the charity Help for Heroes.
Fortunately for us the weather was well behaved as we had to queue for a couple of hours before we were ushered to a small round umberella table where one of their ceramic experts Lars Tharp, sat looking somewhat bored at the prospect of another carrier bag full of someone else’s rubbish.
After telling us everything that we knew already, we got rather excited as he got up from his seat to take one of the dishes to a colleague, who promptly took a photo of it, exchanged a few words with him and returned to our table.
Alas we were disappointed as his valuation fell well below our foolish expectation and the dishes have been returned to the bedroom cupboard from whence they came for maybe another 120 years, rather than a high security cabinet in the Museum.
We nevertheless enjoyed our day in the Roadshow. We got to see all the famous presenters and actually appeared very briefly in the queue (and I mean very briefly) in the eventual programme.
Our five seconds of fame!