GROWING up called Jamie in Britain in the 70s and 80s could be a testing time. Cries of 'where's your magic torch?' and 'where's Wordsworth?' could become pretty tiring, but then if you were a child in Britain in the 70s and 80s, avoiding the output of animators Cosgrove Hall’s imagination was nigh on impossible.

Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall worked together for 45 years, in which time they made a huge number of cherished children’s cartoons: Danger Mouse, The Wind In The Willows, Count Duckula, Chorlton And The Wheelies, Jamie And The Magic Torch and the feature film of The BFG were all made by the Manchester animation studios which helped turn the North West into a creative hub for puppet makers, animators and 2D artists.

Sadly in 2009, Cosgrove Hall closed with the land occupied by their famous studios, in Albany Road, Chorlton. When this was followed by Mark's passing in 2011, it looked like Cosgrove Hall's legacy was over. But far from being forgotten it is now possible to revel in those childhood memories once again with the opening of a new exhibition at Mold's Theatr Clwyd which throws the spotlight on some of the most recognisable children’s animation of the last four decades.

"Cosgrove Hall Films (CHF) was a magical place to work," says Westley Wood, a former employee who has helped rescue the treasure trove and curate the exhibition.

"It was an ideas factory bringing characters and worlds to life through animation. Everyone was there because they felt as passionate and creative as the next person, it was a place full of wonderfully talented people and everyone was like family."

The exhibition features original models, puppets, storyboards and hand drawn animation from the studio's iconic animations, showcasing the pair's reputation for creativity and an eye for detail which saw them inspire a generation of animators with their pioneering use of stop motion production techniques.

"Both Brian and Mark championed new talent and nurtured their team to become great creatives, in every sense of animation production," says Westley. "From story writers, animators, directors and producers to puppet makers, set builders and production staff, the quality and volume of talent that left CHF when it closed have gone on to create and make some of the finest and most influential animations and animation companies the UK has today. The real legacy of CHF is the people they trained and gave to the world of animation."

Some of the UK's leading puppet-makers and animators began their careers at the studio, which also saw David Jason voicing several notable characters throughout the years and guitarist John Squire of The Stone Roses at work on Wind in the Willows.

"The archive is important as it's a moment in history, both past and present for Manchester and for all those it's animations were enjoyed by," says Westley, who adds that at its height, Danger Mouse was watched by an incredible 21 million viewers.

"CHF pre-dates Aardman Animation and established commercial animation production as we know it today. It has touched so many people's lives through their work and played a huge part of everyone's childhood. For me Brian and Mark are the true British Walt Disney's of their day and Dangermouse is our Mickey Mouse."

The exhibition in Mold has been made possible by Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, close to the former studios, where the complete archive now resides, having been rescued from a hidden corner of a production studio at Media City in Manchester.

"I'm immensely proud of the CHF archive and what the team at The Sale Waterside Arts Centre have achieved," adds Westley. "One day we'll look back and thank the animation gods that it didn't end up in the skip. I owe my career to CHF, they inspired my interest and studies in the art before I was lucky enough to work at the studios. To be part of the team helping to preserve their history is a huge honour."

Cartoon and animation lovers of all ages can rediscover the enchanting world of Cosgrove Hall Films as the comprehensive collection exhibits in Wales for the first time at Theatr Clwyd between December 1 to January 12, 2019. Entrance is free.