Video: Leeds forge makes props for TV programmes and films

From speaker stands in an Oscar-tipped film to a life-size boat for a controversial docu-drama.

John Dace's Warbla Forge has created props for a wide variety of television and cinematic productions.

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The Pudsey-based workshop, nestled at the bottom of Low Town, specialises in steel gates.

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But after a late night call-out to repair a cast iron stove for a woman in Headingley 15 years ago, the firm began its showbiz sideline.

John said: "I welded the stove on site in the lass's home because she had a young'un and was a bit desperate to get it going for heating.

"Apparently she worked for Yorkshire Television on the pilot show for A Touch of Frost.

"The next thing was they asked us to do a little work for them and it went from there."

The latest job is making 75 clothes racks for the makers of Emmerdale who are moving their wardrobe department into a new Leeds warehouse.

But it's far from the most unusual project John's tight-knit team of nephew David Greenwood, Paul Thompson, and his son Steven has worked


They've made a spiral staircase for the My Parents Are Aliens tv show when it was filmed in Leeds; re-created a pier with a collapsable side for The Royal hospital TV series; and their biggest job to date was for

The Marchioness Disaster, a tv film made in 2006 by director Ken Horn.

The firm - whose name is a combination of founders Norman Ward's and Alan Bland's surnames - built a replica of The Marchioness pleasure boat that sunk, along with 51 lives, after colliding with a dredger on the River Thames in August, 1989.

John said: "They wanted to show the terrible moment when The Marchioness was hit by the dredger, called The Bow Bell.

"We had to recreate the bow and its anchor as well as a replica of the front of The Marchioness.

"This was down at Kirkstall Forge, when it was open. Then it was all moved to Pinewood studios in London for filming in a giant tank.

"I've seen the film on DVD - it wasn't released in this country - and it's quite shocking. You really feel for the families of the victims."

The firm was also involved with the Oscar-tipped The King's Speech, creating speaker stands and barriers for crowd scenes shot at Elland Road.

As for retirement, John won't hear of it. He said: "I just find the work very interesting."

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