Cumbria

Museum's Lion and Unicorn come back to life

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Media captionAn animatronic sculpture that has been out of action for 10 years has been restored to working order.

A Lion and Unicorn animatronic sculpture that has been out of action for 10 years has been restored to working order.

The almost life-sized figures have been a long time favourite for visitors to Carlisle's Tullie House Museum.

Originally commissioned in 1991 on the reopening of the museum, it was last seen in working order 10 years ago.

But, in a chance visit, a Carlisle engineer decided to come to its aid and bring it new mechanical life.

The metal animatronic sculpture was designed and built by the renowned sculptor and artist, Thomas Scholz.

'Revitalise everything'

It was Peter Grieve who took pity on the plight of the Lion and the Unicorn while visiting the museum last year.

So taken was he with the mechanics of the sculpture that he offered the services of his Carlisle based firm, Flight Engineering.

"In all, I reckon that it took around two hundred hours to strip it all down and revitalise everything," he said.

"The hardest part was to strip out the drill motor that originally drove it - it was a clever design, but we had to inject new life into it after all this time," he added.

The team have now put in an industrial motor and a computerised control system and re-configured the drive chains.

"When the sculpture was first operating," said Mr Grieve, "the public could operate it at will, but now that we've revived it, that all has to change."

The museum will be letting the Lion and the Unicorn spring back into life from Friday.

But this time, for the sake of longevity, their short programme of movement will be run only every half hour - automatically.

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