Society & Culture

Silver Swan Performs for first time in three years

Agencies – Sudan Events

An 18th Century mechanical silver swan which seized up during the coronavirus pandemic has performed once again.
Lack of use over lockdown meant the solid silver swan replica, which sits in the Bowes Museum in County Durham, needed complex repairs.
Cumbria Clock Company and the museum restored it after a fundraising appeal passed its goal of £18,000.
The museum hosted a one-off performance showing the swan part-way through its restoration before its return in 2024.
The Silver Swan is said to be one of the finest examples in the world of an 18th Century moving mechanical device.
It featured in Mark Twain’s book The Innocents Abroad, after the author saw the structure at the 1867 Paris Exhibition.
The automaton, which contains more than 2,000 moving parts, used to perform every day until 2020 when it seized up during lockdown.
Crowdfunding supporters were invited to see inside the swan’s working mechanisms on Thursday
BBC said the museum received a £146,324 grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund towards the restoration and fundraised more than £20,000 itself.
“Thanks to the generous support of visitors and funders, this work has progressed well, and we intend to have daily performances again starting in February 2024,” Bowes Museum’s executive director Hannah Fox said.
Crowdfunding supporters were invited to see inside the swan’s working mechanisms in a small performance on Thursday.
The conservation team will next replace the neck rings and glass rods on the swan in the final parts of its restoration.
One of the people who helped fundraise, Lorraine Groves, described the swan as being “really important to the local people and this is an internationally, globally important piece of art”.
The Silver Swan was purchased by the founders of the Bowes Museum in 1872
“My grandad was a clock and watchmaker so I’ve got that memory of him as a child making and repairing clocks and watches and the fact this is an automaton and it’s got all those working parts is really fascinating,” she added.
The museum said the Silver Swan’s daily performances will return in February.

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