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Classic Rocking Horses News

We restored a small 1880-1890 Lines rocking horse recently, and had this lovely email from the delighted owner:

“Our family had a small rocking horse that was frequently used as a toy.  As children, many adventures were had and many rescues were acted out.  Some days it was being chased by native American Indians, on others re-enacting the charge of the Light Brigade or a variety of different stories to be had.  Sadly, my brother in a fit of rage toppled the rocking horse and cracked it’s back leg.  The horse was taken away and never returned to us despite much wheedling and pleading.

Many years later, as a father with grown up children, I re-discovered our old rocking horse; worn, cracked leg, and badly painted.  It was difficult to reconcile all the adventures we had as small children with what stood before me.  Nevertheless, I decided to have it restored.  I approached a local man who restored rocking horses for a living.  One year on and despite numerous broken promises, our rocking horse had only a small amount of paint removed from it’s neck and nothing much else had happened.  Upset and disappointed I took the rocking horse back from him.

Months later on, a nice lady told me about Jean and Brian at Classic Rocking Horses.  I was greatly enthused when I visited them.  The standard of restoration they had performed on old rocking horses was magnificent.  I left our rocking horse with them and waited for a phone call to say ours was finished and ready for collection.  I declined to have photographs sent, as I preferred to see our horse for the first time on picking it up.

I nearly cried when I saw our rocking horse, now named ‘Equuleus’.  Jean and Brian had taken a much loved, very ordinary rocking horse and magically turned it into something of breathtaking beauty.  I cannot express how thankful we are to Jean and Brian for everything.  I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending them to anybody who is either looking to buy or wanting a rocking horse restored.  Daily, when we look at ‘Equuleus’, we marvel at his beauty and can see the love, skill and passion true craftspeople have invested in his restoration.  Once again, thank you, Jean and Brian for everything!!”

If you have any questions regarding the restoration of your own treasured horse, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will happily explain the restoration process to you.  If you email  measurements from floor to top of ear, stand length and photos, we may be able to identify your horse and provide a restoration quote.

ROCKING HORSE RESTORATION…..and how NOT to do it!

On a regular basis, we have to deal with some very sad antique rocking horses showing horrors such as this one, perpetrated on a very fine Ayres rocking horse.  The previous attempt at restoration appears to have been carried out by either an enthusiastic amateur or by the local plumber, judging by the use of long very large copper pipes in an unsuccessful attempt to hold the two parts of the broken neck together.

Metal pipes like this or even large wooden dowels can never make a satisfactory repair in the long term – they merely attempt to cure the obvious symptom by means of a quick fix, without taking the trouble and effort to get to the real problem.  The correct treatment requires considerable knowledge, experience and woodworking skills plus artistic ability and should not be undertaken lightly.  It is essential to thoroughly clean up damaged joints or cracks and to introduce any necessary new wood fixed permanently in place with just glue and without the use of nails or screws.  The completed repair will last for many, many years to come and will save many a beautiful rocking horse as an heirloom for future generations to enjoy.

Once the broken neck has been correctly repaired with the addition of a replacement lower jaw and a number of smaller repairs, followed by several coats of gesso and many coats of paint and glazes together with subtle hand dappling, the finished rocking horse shows no sign of damage.  It is returned to being a most handsome extra carved horse by F H Ayres of London, beautiful enough to grace any room in either cottage or grand house, but strong enough to stand up to the most boisterous of children riding.

If you would like help in restoring your old rocking horse then please get in touch.  We’d love to return your horse to former glory.

Rocking Horse Patent Stencil 1880 – HIDDEN TREASURE

While restoring a very pretty, small Victorian rocking horsewhich we thought would date from around 1880-90, we found hidden under layers of very unpleasant maroon paint this patent stencil for Jan 29 1880.  This British patent, taken out by P Marqua, an American, only lasted for 3 years, but the stencil was used by some rocking horse makers for a few years after it expired.

Look out for little ‘TOMBOY’ in a week or two!

Classic Rocking Horse Much Loved 17 Years On

This large new rocking horse was made by us 17 years ago as a present from a grandfather in Scotland to his 10 month old granddaughter Kayleigh. ( See photos on our Customer Testimonials Page.)  She is now 17 and about to leave school for university.

SCOTLAND Kayleigh aged one riding Willow her new Classic Rocking Horse - Classic Rocking Horses News
Kayleigh age one on her new Classic Rocking Horse

Out of the blue we received the following lovely email from him ( as you will see, they are still ‘Very Happy Customers’ ) : “I thought I’d just drop you a note about the Rocking Horse  I purchased from you for my granddaughter Kayleigh almost seventeen years ago.  Kayleigh is learning to drive now and hoping sometime this year to buy her first car.  I said to her that she can if she wishes, sell her rocking horse to help towards it’s cost now that she’s had good use of it.  Granddad she says, I still love that present and it will stay with me forever and who knows, I might have children of my own some day and they can enjoy it.  Kayleigh still occasionally has a go on it, big though she is.  She will be leaving school this year hoping to go to university.”

G & J Lines Rocking Horse – Off to Alaska for Christmas

G & J Lines Rocking Horse, fully restored, is ready for crating and shipping to Alaska as a Christmas present for two young boys from their grandmother.

F H Ayres – Not Just Rocking Horse Makers!

F H Ayres Advert - Not Just Rocking Horse Makers - Classic Rocking Horses News
F H Ayres Advert – Not Just Rocking Horse Makers

F H Ayres made not only rocking horses, but a wide range of indoor and outdoor sporting goods, including billiard tables & bagatelle boards as illustrated by this Edwardian advertising print we came across recently.

Restoration – Windsor Chair – A Blast from the Past!

We were delighted to be asked by a good friend, Sue Howells, to restore her Child’s Windsor Chair, a family heirloom, which had suffered somewhat over the years!   Many moons ago we used to restore these regularly for our small antiques shop in Harrogate, before the Rocking Horses took over.

Lines Sportiboy Rocking horse, fully restored and ready for new owners

Both girls love their Lines Sportiboy rocking horse -Classic Rocking Horses News
Both girls love their Lines Sportiboy rocking horse

This fully restored 1920’s Lines Sportiboy rocking horse has just trotted off to the grandparents of two delightful little girls.  ‘Trotter’ will be passed down the family as an heirloom.

Collinson Rocking Horse Restoration – A Recent Arrival at our Rocking Horse Clinic

This tired rocking horse by Collinson of Liverpool was in need of a total makeover.  Its owner, Mrs Mitchell, opted for more subtle paintwork than the original Collinson style plus beautiful glass eyes in place of the existing metal studs.  She was delighted with the transformation and was kind enough to post a photo and testimonial to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/classicrockinghorses

Rocking Horse Quality Control – Meet our Quality Control Inspector

Meet Moggie, our self appointed Rocking Horse Quality Control Inspector  (part-time – very part-time).  He takes the job seriously, ‘very paws-on’, but needs plenty of breaks and the occasional adventure away from the workshop!

Rocking Horse Commission – New National Theatre Tokyo Japan

 Rocking Horse on Bows Specially Commissioned for New National Theatre, Tokyo Japan for opera production 'Die Walkure' - Classic Rocking Horses News
Rocking Horse on Bows Specially Commissioned for New National Theatre, Tokyo Japan for opera production ‘Die Walkure’

We had a very interesting commission at this time for a large horse on bow rockers for a production in Tokyo, Japan of the ‘Die Walkure’ opera. The rocking horse was painted in colours specified by a designer in the UK , and it was certainly eye catching!

House & Garden Fair Olympia 1998

Rocking Horses at House & Garden Fair Olympia London - Classic Rocking Horses News
Rocking Horses at House & Garden Fair Olympia London

Classic Rocking Horses, House & Garden Fair Olympia.  By this time the rocking horses had taken over our lives, and the Harrogate shop was no longer essential, as we sold our rocking horses through a few quality fairs, like the House & Garden Fair, Olympia, and the rapidly growing internet.

Rocking Horses & Toys 1990

Apart from furniture, we also sold toys, dolls and the odd pram, but then we found our first rocking horse, resulting in a complete change of direction!

Before the rocking horses took over…..

 Some of the antique furniture and children’s chairs we restored for sale in our Harrogate antiques shop.

1980 up to 1990’s

Classic Rocking Horses ( Brian & Jean ) would like to welcome customers old and new, and anyone with a love of rocking horses, to our new responsive website.  Many of our customers are familiar with our background as restorers and dealers in quality antiques, but others may not be.  These are a few old photos from another time, before the first rocking horse galloped into our lives, bewitching us forever.