The Rocking Horse Shop

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Rocking Horse Restoration

Rocking Horse Restoration

Bronko original, made for Gamages

Bronko horses are recognisable by their distinctive cowboy-style stirrups and saddles with hugely exaggerated cantles. They were made from 1905 by Simpson, Fawcett & Co Ltd of Leeds, whose ‘Swan’ brand was well known. In 1914 the company was Britain’s biggest manufacturer of ‘strong’ toys although their ‘Bronko’ horses carry no maker’s mark, only a plate engraved ‘A. W. Gamage Ltd, Holborn, London, E.C.’, since Bronkos were made exclusively for the famous London toyshop.

This fine example is a ‘No. E’ the largest of four (or possibly five) sizes made and sold. It appears in Gamages catalogues for both 1906 and 1914 priced at 75 shillings (£3.75 in today’s money, a fortune!), is in original unrestored condition and is remarkably well preserved. The horse is on loan from Mr and Mrs D. Smith of Halifax. Before he retired Mr Smith kept the Bronko in the office of his repair garage so that children could ride while their parents were busy paying the bill.

The only thing missing is the lower jaw, apparently broken off along the line of the wood’s grain which is horizontal - a design fault. When we collected it a glass eye was also missing, but by great good fortune Mr Smith found it while giving his garage floor a final sweep before he left, and posted it to me to be glued back in. 
Bronko horses are now rare beasts, but in the Spring of 2015 an extremely battered 
example - albeit damaged and missing all of its original paintwork - arrived at 
The Rocking Horse Shop’s workshop for a complete restoration.
We had to remove the saddle and strip all the paint before Sam our master Rocking Horse Restorer could really get started work on the horse.

Each of these horses had an identification number and you can see the one on this horse.
Sam then gave the horse a coat of gesso and a paint undercoat.

The dapple could then be added and the beautiful saddle and stirrups made by Julie could be fitted.

A beautiful restored Rocking Horse ready for many more generations to come.......