Where to see County Durham attractions which are enjoying the national spotlight

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Tourism chiefs have been delighted to see County Durham enjoy more high-profile attention as some of the county’s highlights appeared in the national spotlight.

And while the area gains wider recognition it certainly does no harm to remind locals of what’s on offer on their very doorstep.

Official tourism webside This is Durham shared news on its Facebook page that attractions including Locomotion railway museum and The Bowes Museum feature in a weekend travel guide published in The Times and The Sunday Times.

The national publications identify some of the area’s key venues in an article promoting a weekend in in Barnard Castle.

The Silver Swan automaton at the Bowes Museum
The Silver Swan automaton at the Bowes Museum

It mentions its “truly great museum” and blue plaque trail which takes in venues where Charles Dickens stayed and cleric John Wesley preached. It also features a stay in The Morritt Hotel and Garage Spa in Greta Bridge near the market town.

The Bowes Museum, which just reopened on Wednesday, January 16 following the dismantling of an exhibition, is, of course, – home to the famous Silver Swan.

For anyone who has not seen this mechanical marvel, it can be seen in action daily at 2pm. 

The so-called ‘robot’ is a remarkable creation, dating from the 18th Century and controlled by three separate clockwork mechanisms.

It is life-size and seen resting on a stream made of twisted glass rods full of silver fish.

When the mechanism is wound up, the rods rotate, music begins, and the swan first twists its head to the left and right, appearing to preen its back.

It then appears to catch sight a fish in the water below and visitors can watch it bend down to catch it. It then swallows the fish as the music stops and the swan resumes its upright position.

Locomotion: The National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham
Locomotion: The National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham

The whole process takes about 40 seconds and visitors are known to eagerly await the 2pm show.

Also currently on offer at Bowes are three exhibitions, including one exploring Teesdale’s role in the First World War, while this Saturday, January 19 sees the return of Super Saturday which means children can enjoy sparkly craft activities with the museum’s education tea, between 1pm and 3pm.

Meanwhile,  Locomotion, the national railway museum at Shildon – described as the world’s first railway town – is open daily and visitors can see around 70 trains there, dating throughout history and including the prototype Deltic, British Rail’s Advanced Passenger Train, and the iconic LNER locomotive No. 4771 Green Arrow.

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There are also daily tours as well as occasional workshop tours; shunting demonstrations and steam train rides.

Locomotion is open daily from 10am until 4pm in winter and entry is free. See here.  The Bowes Museum is open from 10am until 5pm. For details of admission costs see here.





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