Puppets from an animated adaptation of The Wind in the Willows have been returned to their home city of Manchester, some three decades after they were thought to have been lost.
The Waterside arts centre in Sale has acquired the 25 original puppets from the 1983 Cosgrove Hall film for its archive dedicated to the now-defunct animation studio. Indeed, it only came to light that the figures still existed when they were put up for auction in Dorchester in April.
Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall founded Cosgrove Hall Films – also known as Cosgrove Hall Productions – in 1976. The company went on to produce a variety of celebrated series and films, including Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and The BFG, before being absorbed into ITV plc in 2009.
Now, the beautiful hand puppets from The Wind in the Willows – which range in height from five inches to 14 inches in the case of the tallest, Badger – are back in the company of fellow childhood icons as part of the Cosgrove Hall Films dynasty.
A seemingly unlikely discovery
The hand-made puppets, which consist of cast resin with metal jointed skeletons inside to allow for slight movement, were owned by animatronics and set designer Andrew Dunning, who acquired them after the production of the 1983 film and the subsequent 1980s TV show of the same name.
It turned out that the figures had been kept safely in dark storage for over 26 years, at both Andrew’s workplace and later his home, prior to his decision to take them to Duke’s Auctioneers.
Waterside only became aware of the figures’ survival when it was reported earlier this year that they would go to auction. Now, thanks to what the arts centre has described as “the generosity and kindness” of both Mr Dunning and Duke’s Auctioneers MD Lee Young, Waterside has been gifted the beautiful hand puppets for posterity and its archives.
“Amazing turn of events”
Peter Saunders, who headed the team that created the puppets, hailed the “amazing turn of events”, adding: “The puppets disappeared after they were displayed in an exhibition many years ago and everyone thought they were gone for good.
“It’s great that they’ve turned up and have been donated to the Cosgrove Hall archive.”
Waterside also confirmed that the puppets would go on display at the arts centre as part of an exhibition called Cosgrove Hall: Frame By Frame, set to run from 14th November until 28th December 2019.
We were certainly delighted here at Puppets By Post to learn of the re-emergence of these truly beautiful hand puppets, which also have such a key role in TV and movie history here in the UK. So why not make plans to see them later this year, and in the meantime, take your pick from your favourite puppets that make up our own generous range in our online store?