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Special Exhibition Label: 'Eccentricity: Unexpected Objects and Irregular Behaviour' (10/5/2011 - 16/10/2011)

Clockwork that doesn't tell the time

Three unusual machines driven by clockwork and powered by winding up a spring. One is for scaring birds, one for catching flies, and one for timing pigeons.

Inventory no.

Bird scaring mechanism by John Gillett, English, c.1847

Gillett was an inventor and manufacturer, living in Brailes in Warwickshire, who patented this clockwork bird scarer in 1846. He described it as a 'Self-acting Alarum Gun and Property Protector'. It contained 12 barrels that were to be charged with gunpowder and one would be automatically discharged each hour with a loud report: 'if wound up and charged in the morning, it may be hung on a tree or a post and will go the whole of the day without any further attention'.

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