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Postman Pat Exhibition at Waterside Arts
Postman Pat Exhibition at Waterside Arts

Original Postman Pat sets go on display for the first time

Home » To do & see » Original Postman Pat sets go on display for the first time

Everybody knows Postman Pat’s bright red van. Now fans can see it for real as some of the original sets and props from the popular animation series go on display for the first time.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the children’s TV favourite Waterside Arts is hosting an exhibition of the show’s original handmade sets including Pat’s cottage, the school, the lighthouse, and the Pencaster Square along with characters Pat, his black and white cat Jess and Mrs Goggins. There is also an opportunity to view some of the series’ early storyboard plans.

Postman Pat set. Photo: Jason Lock
Postman Pat set. Photo: Jason Lock

Postman Pat was first commissioned by the BBC in 1979 and the first episodes aired two years later in 1981. The stop motion series, set in the heart of the Lake District, was written by John Cuncliffe and voiced by Ken Barrie.

The early episodes were brought to life by director of animation, Ivor Wood (The Herbs, The Wombles) and produced initially by Woodland Animation ltd. In 2003, Entertainment Rights and Cosgrove Hall Films teamed up to develop Postman Pat: Special Delivery. This stop motion series, based on Ivor Wood’s original series, reused parts of his sets but also expanded on Pat’s world to include the town of Pencaster – preserving the timeless quality of the show while introducing subtle changes in design to make it feel more contemporary.

Cosgrove Hall Films later introduced lip-synch dialogue, seasons and an abundance of vehicles for Pat to drive back and forth from the sorting office, Greendale and Pencaster. After five years in production, Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service first aired on the BBC in 2008 and Classic Media, Dreamworks and Mackinnon & Saunders took over the production of it between 2013 and 2017.

Postman Pat Exhibition at Waterside Arts
Postman Pat Exhibition at Waterside Arts

The two final TV series were produced by Mackinnon & Saunders in their Altrincham studio. And when the Take 1 Studios in Stalybridge could no longer store the beautiful miniature sets and props the Cosgrove Hall Films Archive at Waterside stepped in to help preserve them.

Postman Pat set Cosgrove Hall Films  Photo: Jason Lock
Postman Pat set Cosgrove Hall Films Photo: Jason Lock

“No longer required for filming, all the models were to be destroyed unless a new home could be found for them, says Joint CEO of Mackinnon and Saunders, Peter Saunders. “When Mackinnon & Saunders became aware of the perilous situation, I contacted the Cosgrove Hall Films Archive at Waterside to ask whether their animation archive could come to Greendale’s rescue. The teams at Waterside and Trafford Council immediately offered to help and, thanks to their hard work and dedication, many of the models featured in this uniquely British piece of popular culture have been saved for future generations to enjoy.”

Postman Pat Cosgrove Hall Films. Picture Jason Lock
Postman Pat Cosgrove Hall Films. Picture Jason Lock

Richard Evans, Creative Industries Trafford Co-ordinator, adds: “We jumped at the chance to be the new custodians as we already had some puppets from the show. Following a meeting with rights’ holders for Postman Pat, Dreamworks and NBC Universal, where we explained our approach at the archive towards celebrating Cosgrove Hall’s legacy, both companies were happy to donate the sets and props to our Archive. Knowing how much loved this television series was and still is, and how beautifully preserved many of these sets have been, we have created this exhibition especially to share these rarely seen sets, puppets and props with the shows’ fans – both big and small.”

Postman Pat and the Fancy Dress Party | Postman Pat Official | Full Episode

Postman Pat: Welcome to Greendale is at Waterside from 20 November 2021 to 8 January 2022. Entry is free.

Read what our reviewer Nicola Dowling thought of the exhibition.

Written by
Carmel Thomason
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Written by Carmel Thomason