Waterside Arts in Sale is have acquired 25 original Wind in the Willows puppets from the iconic Cosgrove Hall animated film made in their home town of Manchester in 1983.
These treasured figures had been feared “lost” for over 30 years and only recently discovered when they had been put up for auction in Dorchester in April.
As proud owners of the Cosgrove Hall archives, Waterside is beyond thrilled to have reunited these intricate figures with fellow childhood icons such as Dangermouse and Count Duckula who are also part of this animation dynasty produced by Cosgrove Hall Films (CHF) in Manchester.
These hand-made puppets range in height from 5ins to the tallest, Badger, who is 14ins. They are made out of cast resin with metal jointed skeletons inside to give them slight movement.
The figures belonged to Andrew Dunning – an animatronics and set designer who acquired them following the production of the much loved 1983 The Wind in the Willows film for which they were made – and the subsequent TV show which ran for 52 episodes on ITV from 1984 to 1988.
These figures had been kept safely in dark storage for over 26 years at both Andrew’s place of work and latterly at his home before he decided to take them to Duke’s Auctioneers.
It was then only when the story broke of them going to auction earlier this year, that Waterside was alerted to their existence. Thanks to the generosity and kindness of both Andrew Dunning and Lee Young – the MD at Duke’s Auctioneers – Waterside has been gifted these treasures for posterity and its archives.
In addition to this remarkable acquisition – Waterside is thrilled to also have received vital funding from the Arts Council England with which it will make new animated films that respond to the Cosgrove Hall Films Archive. These will sit alongside the latest animated film they have just produced with former Cosgrove Hall Director, Oscar-nominee and BAFTA winner – Barry Purves.
The Chorlton-cum-Hardy based studio was founded by Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall in 1976, it quickly became the UK’s largest animation house.
Cosgrove Hall Films produced quality animation by bringing together some of the biggest talents, puppet-makers, actors and animators in the UK to create, adapt and produce popular animations, including Noddy, Animal Shelf and Postman Pat. They also brought characters from popular childhood fiction to life in animations such as Roald Dahl’s The BFG (1989), Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows (1983), and Terry Prachett’s Truckers (1992).
Since the CHF animation studio’s closure in 2009, the archive had been hidden in a corner of a production studio, formerly a pie factory located in MediaCityUK before it came to Waterside in 2017 thanks to support from the National Lottery Fund for Heritage.
Councillor Jane Baugh (Executive member for Culture & Leisure in Trafford) comments: “What a real coup for our award winning arts venue, Waterside here in Trafford to take possession of these childhood favourites. Wind in the Willows is regarded as a real classic which has delighted readers and viewers down the generations since being first published in 1908. We are so grateful that their previous owner took great care of them and we are so appreciative that thanks to his generosity and that of Duke’s Auctioneers, we are now able to bring them home to Greater Manchester and to be a part of Waterside’s CHF archives. “
These new puppets will be shown and shared on Monday 8 July at Waterside‘s AniMates gathering – part of Creative Industries Trafford’s new monthly meeting space for animators, character designers, writers and makers, to meet and engage. watersidearts.org/animates/
They will go on wider public display at Waterside as part of a new Family Exhibition – Cosgrove Hall: Frame By Frame, running from 14 November to 28 December 2019.