The River & Rowing Museum wins Heritage Lottery grant

PUBLISHED: 11:53 19 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:30 20 February 2013

The River & Rowing Museum wins Heritage Lottery grant

The River & Rowing Museum wins Heritage Lottery grant

Project will bring historic 'Swan Upping' into primary schools

The Heritage Lottery Fund has confirmed a grant of 25,500 for the River & Rowing Museum under its Your Heritage programme. Inspired by The Queens Diamond Jubilee year, the River & Rowing Museum is undertaking a year long project to bring together a unique set of learning resources celebrating the traditions and environmental practice of Swan Upping.

With its origins in medieval times Swan Upping is the annual five-day event led by The Queens Swan Marker that focuses on the welfare of the Thames swan population. The project will encourage people to appreciate the rivers natural and cultural heritage. Together with training for volunteers, the project will bring the practice of Swan Upping into primary schools throughout the Thames catchment and provide vital resources for a range of informal learning activities.

Filming for this project will be undertaken by Wycombe based Buckinghamshire New University.

Paul Mainds, Trustee & Chief Executive, River & Rowing Museum says:

I am delighted that we have received the Heritage Lottery Funds decision in time to announce this project to coincide with the Jubilee celebrations. During the coming year we will be working with primary schools and the Swan Upping community to produce resources that will allow schools throughout the Thames Valley to actively engage with Swan Upping. It will also provide training for volunteers, especially those working to protect swans and their environment.

David Barber, The Queens Swan Marker says: Congratulations to the River & Rowing Museum in being awarded this grant. I have always placed great emphasis on working with schools and am delighted that this project will enable many more children through the Thames Valley to understand the breadth and scope of Swan Upping.

About Swan Upping

Swan Upping is the annual census of the swan population on stretches of the Thames in the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. This years Swan Upping begins on Monday 16 July, departing from Sunbury Lock, Surrey, and ends at Abingdon, Oxfordshire, on Friday 20 July 2012. This historic ceremony dates from the twelfth century, when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans.

Today, the Crown retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but The Queen only exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries. This ownership is shared with the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers, who were granted rights of ownership by the Crown in the fifteenth century.

In the Swan Upping ceremony, The Queen's Swan Marker, the Royal Swan Uppers and the Swan Uppers of the Vintners' and Dyers' livery companies use six traditional Thames rowing skiffs in their five-day journey up-river. The Queen's Swan Uppers wear traditional scarlet uniforms and each boat flies appropriate flags and pennants.

The cygnets are weighed and measured to obtain estimates of growth rates and the birds are examined for any sign of injury (commonly caused by fishing hooks and line). The swans are also given a health check and ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen's Swan Warden. The swans are then set free again. At the completion of Swan Upping each year, The Queen's Swan Marker produces a report which provides data on the number of swans accounted for, including broods and cygnets.

About the Queens Swan Maker
Apart from Swan Upping, The Queen's Swan Marker advises organisations throughout the country on swan welfare and incidents involving swans, he monitors the health of the local swan population and briefs fishing and boating organisations how to work with wildlife and maintain existing habitats. The Queens Swan Marker works closely with swan-rescue organisations and carries out the rescue of sick and injured swans. He also co-ordinates the temporary removal of swans from stretches of the river Thames used for summer rowing regattas.

About the River & Rowing Museum

The River & Rowing Museum is one of the UK's leading regional and sporting museums, attracting over 114,000 visitors a year. The Museum, an independent charity, also has a purpose built education centre visited by over 20,000 children and adults a year. The Museum provides superb value for money. Tickets are 8 for adults and 6 for children and provide free access for a year.

Location, opening and ticket information

  • The River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF. Tel. 01491 415600.

  • The Museum, terrace caf and shop are open every day from 10am - 5.30pm in summer and 10am - 5pm in the winter

  • Tickets give FREE admission for a whole year!

  • Admission is just 8 for adults, 6 for children aged four and over, FREE for children aged three and under and 6 for senior citizens and concessions

  • Free parking for visitors

  • Members of the British Armed Forces and their families receive discounted tickets.

  • The River & Rowing Museum is part of the Thames Valley Museums Group (TVMG) Family Friendly initiative - a scheme that brings together 29 Museums across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, to promote their popular appeal to the whole family

  • Signatory to the Kids in Museums Manifesto

  • Art Fund members are entitled to free admission


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