9:00am Sunday 20th May 2012
Westbury White Horse looked dazzling in the sun after its final coat of paint was applied on Saturday, well in time for its role in the town’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
A team of 15 volunteers applied the second coat of eco-friendly waterproof paint to the monument, leaving only a patch on the head requiring a third coat this weekend.
The horse will form a striking backdrop to the Diamond Jubilee beacon when it is lit by the town’s new mayor, Sue Ezra, on June 4.
She said: “It is looking spectacular. The volunteers have done a great job. If we had needed to pay for labour, it would never have been done.
“People around the town are so pleased to see it restored to its former glory, and in time for all the big Jubilee events we have planned, too.
“Unfortunately, the searchlight was too expensive for the short time it would be used, given how late it gets dark now, but we will have a beacon in the usual place.”
The work, carried out by local people using ropes, began last month, when steam cleaners were used to clear dirt and lichen from the grubby beast.
Expertise and equipment was supplied by the Army, while specialists from both English Heritage, which owns the horse, and Natural England, which manages the land around it, were present.
The cost of the cleaning and painting is expected to be £9,000, just under the amount granted by the town council and the local area board.
Steve Carrington, who managed the project on behalf of the town’s Rotary Club, said: “We have been able to keep the costs down, as it was all completed so quickly.
“I know people in the town are upset with English Heritage for not maintaining the monument as well as they would like to, but they have been hugely helpful. They don’t normally let a bunch of amateurs loose on a national monument.”
Rotarian John Ridgers added: “The head of the horse was re-concreted recently, so it will need an extra primer coat this weekend.
“It has been a long haul, and frustrating at times, but it looks magnificent now, all due to the willingness and dedication of our team of volunteers.”
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