Bowes Museum's silver swan to perform for first time since 2020

Barnard Castle's famous silver swan is performing for the first time since 2020. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A 250-year-old swan automaton will dance for the first time since 2020 after undergoing restoration.

Barnard Castle's famous silver swan has been out of action for more than three years, when the Covid-19 pandemic ended its daily performances.

Following painstaking restoration by the Cumbria Clock Company, the swan is being turned on for the first time since on Friday 21 December.

The Silver Swan, designed by John Joseph Merlin, was made in the workshop of inventor James Cox in London.

Made of solid silver, it is a life-size replica of a female swan and is one of the best examples of 18th century automata in the world.

It was purchased by John Bowes for his Barnard Castle museum and has become a beloved part of the collection.

It has three clockwork mechanisms and contains more than 2,000 moving parts.

Lorraine Groves will be winding up the swan tonight. She said: "I'm really excited. It's so well loved and I'm so happy to be here."

The restoration has been funded in part by a grant of £146,324 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and supporters of the museum helped to raise a further £20,000 to help with the cost.

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