Swindon's 100-year-old crocodile looking snappy after makeover

By Jamie Hill - 3 November 2023

Arts and Culture

Swindon’s 100-year-old crocodile is back from their makeover and looking better than ever.

The much-loved, 15-foot gharial recently went off to be restored by specialist natural sciences conservator Simon Moore, following damage and natural wear and tear to the creature.
The gharial will be put on display when the new Swindon Museum and Art Gallery eventually opens at its new home at the Civic Offices.
Originally a hunting trophy, the Gharial’s first known owner was Major Morton Hiles, who lived in India between 1916 and 1922.
Hiles later lived in Warminster and gave the gharial to Warminster School. In 1931, the school’s vicar offered the specimen to Swindon Museum, as they needed more classroom space.
Work included:
• Replacing teeth with scrap ivory to restore the original look
• Replacing the old plastic eyes with new, more realistic glass eyes
• Restoring claws on the feet
• Adding back missing pieces of the tail
The restoration was funded from the regular collections care and conservation budget held by the museums team.
Gharials are currently a critically endangered species, with experts estimating that there are fewer than 1,500 left alive in the wild
Council leader Jim Robbins said: "So pleased that we have got the Swindon Gharial restored and ready to be back on show when the Museum & Art Gallery reopens!
"So frustrating that the previous administration were so slow and had done nothing to get the new space at the Civic Offices ready. Really looking forward to the space being able to open and residents being able to enjoy the exhibits and artwork again.
"Huge thanks to Cllr Marina Eastcott Strinkovsky for her brilliant work getting the gharial restored and keeping the construction work on track!"
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