Wiltshire Publications

Westbury historic exhibit becomes TV star

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2018 at 11:21 am.

Westbury’s woollen heritage took to TV screens this week when a treasured artefact got a facelift.

The BBC programme ‘The Repair Shop’ featured one of the favourite exhibits of the Westbury Heritage Centre – the statue of mythical hero Hercules that once graced the beam engine at Bitham Mill.

The cast iron statue, which weighs in at more than 300 kilos, has been a popular part of the heritage centre since 1992. But a fall meant his club, the trademark of the hero known for his superhuman strength, became detached from the main statue.

Liz Argent, secretary of the Westbury Heritage Society, decided expert help was needed and contacted the BBC team for help.

As part of the TV programme, blacksmith conservator, Matthew Boultwood, re-attached the missing club and Hercules is now back in pride of place in Westbury less than a mile from his original site.

Hercules once graced the beam engine at Bitham Mill at the top of Alfred Street. The beam engine of 1829 drove the factory until 1939.   Bitham Mill, which is mentioned in records as far back as 1573, was one of many cloth mills in Westbury, and was once owned by the Matravers family.

“Hercules is one of our prime exhibits and a real reminder to everyone of the woollen heritage of our town.. we are delighted to have him back and we are very grateful for the specialist help to preserve this unusual artefact,” said Liz.

‘The Repair Shop’ programme featuring Hercules was on BBC2 at 6.45pm on Wednesday 29th August.

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