Swan pedalo lands in Leeds

On the windy morning of saturday 25th June, the Swan Pedalo landed on the canal at Granary Wharf in Leeds for the Waterfront festival.

After a quick maiden voyage with @davelynch, @lewissleeman and @eoinshea to work out the finer details of the swan songs and other swan related activities we decided to wait on the promise of sunday sunshine before we ventured into the activities.

Our wait was blessed with a scorcher of a day, with Swan tweets commenting on #leedsriveria, it was hot hot hot and you got a swan sweat on after moments of pedaling !

10AM brought the lyrical wisdom of Samuel Foxton Wells for Leeds 1st Swan Song.

The Open Source Swan Pedalo hosts Leeds first swan songs featuring the lyrical wisdom of Samuel Foxton Welles.

Samuel Foxton Welles’s new track is from his upcoming album based on David Lynch’s dark view of middle America in his ground breaking TV series – Twin Peaks. For more information please visit samuelfoxtonwelles.co.uk


Due to the hot weather and super chilled day the evening performances were squeezed into a very short 30 minute slot.


6.40 saw  Slimpro6&theBobbettes improvised impromtu water music.  I don’t think anyone could have prepared themselves for the haunting echos of the woodwind and brass melodies emitting from 3 dogs on a swan!



6.50 – 7 was a exercise in the right to rant by Stephen Emmerson & Chris Stephenson who are  the resident poets from a regular poetry event called Precession: The Cynics curated by Robert A Sharples. Armed with megaphones and an sublime collection of funny, witty, dark and twisted word couplets that left the audience on the bank in auditory appreciation and laughter.

All in all a good experimentation of what can be done in little time, no budget and some fine weather.  Also a good gauge of how well the public react to art from a swan pedalo.  A comment by Samuel Foxton Welles early in the day kinda sums it all up:

‘you wouldn’t stare at someone in the street, but somehow a swan pedalo gives people free reign to blatantly watch your every move’

I think people feel drawn to the swan, a phoenix in our society’s great depression, but 98% more likely is the sun brings out the best in people and opens that cultural acceptance for fun and frolics on a giant bird on the water.




Saturday 16th of April 2011 marks the Alpha launch of the Open Source Swan Pedalo – and where better that the “gateway to the world” – Liverpool’s Albert Dock!

From Monday 18th of April until Monday 2nd of May we hope that the Swan will be open for the general public – come down and have a go!

We will be testing the Swan’s water-worthy-ness over this weekend and we hope to film a few of Liverpool’s finest musicians making some music onboard!

There were initial concerns that that the launch would faulter when security officials arrived on the scene – but after some negotiation were allowed to lower the Swan down the slope and into the water.  We each had a go until we had relayed our Swan all the way around the Albert Dock to its mooring location next to the big wheel and outside of the Echo Arena.  It is an amazingly smooth ride – and quite fast!

As is tradition, we splashed the Swan with champagne and said a few words before doing a lap of honour.  Present for this momentous occasion were Sam, Ruth, Mel, Markus, Neringa, Neil, John and our wonderful host Simon.

One thing we did not do however, was choose a name for our Swan – perhaps this is bad luck – but we hope that the people of Liverpool will choose a name in good time ;-)

Testing the Water!

Finally – we dreamt that this day would come – our opportunity has arrived to get our Open Source Swan Pedalo out onto the water!

This great news is in no small part thanks to the efforts of Simon of www.wowballs.co.uk who got in touch with us right at the beginning to offer a mutually beneficial chance for the swan to get its feet wet.  If all goes to plan then the Open Source Swan Pedalo will be on the water for testing near the Albert Dock during Saturday and Sunday this weekend and then it will be available to the fee-paying public of Liverpool as an enjoyable and leisurely resource for two weeks after that (which includes the Royal Wedding day!)

The basic schedule is as follows:

(tonight) Friday evening 6.30pm: meeting with Simon at basecamp (Andy’s workshop) to inspect the Swan for any damage etc. and discuss the day and arrangements – then off for a sneaky pint at Kavanaghs.  If anyone wants to come along and needs a lift I can pick you up – all welcome.

Saturday morning 9am: Swan is being collected by a Man with Van (who was sourced via twitter!) and driven down to the Albert Dock – this is an all hands on deck operation.  Again – I can pick people up if need be.  Ideally we will have 6 people to lift the swan onto (and off of) the boxvan.  It would be good also if we could video this voyage.

(Our Swan will be entering the water near to where the Duckmarine goes.)

Saturday afternoon:
Sam is co-ordinating this – but the intention is that various musicians will be doing short acoustic renditions of their own songs from the Swan and we hope to share this within Liverpool Music Unconference as an alternative model for music distribution.

Sunday: (possibility for more testing – or perhaps free rides for the art-going public?)

Then: 2 weeks of Open Source Swan Pedalo operational on Albert Dock as leisure vessel for public to enjoy.

  • The Open Source Swan Pedalo will remain on the water until the end beginning of May operating as part of Simons Wowball venture – there will be a charge of £5 for 10 minutes for an adult + their children (which is pretty fair considering this is the same fee as for a single child in the wow balls)
  • Simon is only looking to recoup his costs and any surplus will go back into Swan funds for the benefit of future projects

During the 2 weeks that the Swan is operational on the water it would be desirable if people could sign up to volunteer for one half day to be on hand and support Simon’s lifeguards in operating the Swan.  This is not essential but it will mean that we have a team of people with documented experience of working with the swan – we might even do some special badges!
Fri 29th April: the Swan will be on the water for the Royal Wedding!  Any ideas how to mark this? Portraits? Bunting? A battered swan banquet?

Tues May 3rd: Open Source Swan Pedalo will leave the water

So -

Any questions?  Any suggestions?


PS: I decided against posting this news yesterday since the 14th of April is the anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.

Maiden Voyage

Today’s the big day that our Swan Pedalo makes it’s maiden voyage from the Eldonian Village in North Liverpool to the Soundnetwork Hackspace at the Cooperative (former Rapid Paint Shop on Renshaw Street.)  The Swan Pedalo will be there all throughout this week to stimulate peoples ideas and curiosity and, in-keeping with our Open-Source credentials the Swan Pedalo will remain during the weekend when the Cooperative plays host to Howduino – Liverpool’s homegrown electronic tinker-athon!

The full dates for this Open Source Swan Pedalo residency are Tuesday 16th November to Sunday 21st of November and after that who knows where the Swan Pedalo will go next…

Big thanks once again to the Sound Network, all at the Co-operative and the HOWDUINO folks for playing host to the Swan Pedalo this week.

You can keep track of the future whereabouts of the Swan Pedalo by clicking on the “Where” tab above – and if you do have any ideas, or if you would like to host the Open Source Swan Pedalo in the future, then please just write a comment.