Wiltshire Publications

White Horse cleaned for the Queen

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The horse is cleaned. Picture courtesy of Ocuair.

The horse is cleaned. Picture courtesy of Ocuair.

ATEAM of around 25 volunteers abseiled down Westbury’s White Horse last weekend to clean the iconic figure before it is repainted later this year.

The big spring clean, organised by Westbury Rotary Club and the town council, saw four years’ worth of dirt blasted off with pressure washers ahead of the Queen’s birthday celebrations this week.

Organiser and Rotarian Steve Carrington said, “The clean was a big success and we’ve got the horse looking a much brighter white. The volunteers and all the local business who helped were amazing and worked really hard throughout the weekend.

“I think it’s important to do this because the horse is such an important feature of the town. People really love it and a lot of businesses are either named after it or use it as their logo. The paper isn’t called the ‘Grey Horse News’!”

The volunteers were suspended in climbing harnesses while they worked, taking turns on the 175ft horse in stints of 40 minutes to an hour at a time, throughout Saturday and Sunday.

It was the first time the horse had been cleaned since 2012, and was scheduled so it was clean ahead of the beacon lighting this Thursday, 21st April at 7.30pm, the evening of the Queen’s actual 90th birthday,

Steve continued, “I was impressed that the paint withstood the cleaning; when we did it in 2012 the paint was stripped off. Next we will fill in the cracks when the weather warms up, and will meet to decide whether to repaint or treat the horse.

“A big thanks to everyone involved; the cleaners and marshalls, English Heritage and Natural England, Westbury Town Council and the Rotary Club, Restorative Techniques for the equipment, Ted Calloway, Dave Talbot and Stuart Gardener. It was a real team effort and we’re so grateful for everybody’s help.”

People have taken to social media to comment on the spring clean. A video taken by the BBC has been shared widely on Twitter, and people have remarked on the improvement on Facebook.

One said, “It looks great, I’ve been watching the progress from my bedroom window and I can’t believe they managed to do it all in one weekend. Well done to all involved, it’s looking fantastic!”

Over 450 people ‘liked’ a photo of the work taking place and many congratulated the volunteers’ efforts.

Town councillor David Jenkins said, “I would like to say a big thank you to all the people involved with cleaning the White Horse. Everyone did a tremendous job. It wasn’t easy and the weather conditions weren’t great on the first day, but everyone worked really hard. Congratulations to all who were involved; it was a great effort all round.”