A LEADING geotechnical engineer has said sinkholes such as the one which opened up in Ripon in early November, 2016, should be filled as quickly as possible, while residents living in the area have been put on alert to further movements.

Ahead of inspecting the 15m diameter and 30ft deep sinkhole which led to properties being evacuated in Magdalen’s Road, Geotechnical Consulting Group Tony Bracegirdle said if rapid action was not taken the ground around the hole could “relax”, causing damage to nearby buildings.

Harrogate Borough Council said residents of four of the evacuated properties have been advised not to return to their homes on safety grounds.

The authority added some residents of the eight other properties affected by the sewerage issues have remained in their homes, but have been advised if they see any cracks or hear unexpected noises to vacate the building and contact emergency services.

It said contractors from an insurance company were on site examining options to stabilise the sinkhole and that a garage had been dismantled by hand to allow access to the area.

An iconic swan automaton was set to fly its nest at a County Durham museum for the first time to take part in a special robotics exhibition in London.

The Silver Swan, which has become the emblem of The Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, was installed by museum founders, John and Josephine Bowes in 1872.

The life-size musical automaton was purchased for 5,000 francs – about £200 – after the couple had seen it at an exhibition in Paris in 1867.

The one-of-a-kind piece is controlled by three separate clockwork mechanisms and rests on a stream made of twisted glass rods interspersed with silver fish.

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

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

The popular piece was set to migrate to the Science Museum in London where it was to take its place as one of the star attractions in its 2017 blockbuster exhibition, Robots.

Finally, one of the most famous museum exhibits in the country was preparing to come to the North-East as part of a national tour.

Dippy, a 21.3 metre long Diplodocus skeleton cast, was set to appear at the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle in 2019.

He was first unveiled to the British public in 1905 and is cast from a skeleton found in Wyoming in the US. The model has thrilled visitors at London’s Natural History Museum for over 100 years.

Iain Watson, director of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, said: “Dippy’s a national treasure and we can’t wait to introduce him to our replica T-Rex Big Mike, who is similarly loved by the people of Newcastle."

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