The shire horses were reintroduced at Wadworth in 1974 by then managing director Major John Cairns Bartholomew, father of Charles Bartholomew. Initially there were two shire horses but the brewery increased them to four in about 1979.

In May 2004 Prince Philip visited Devizes and drove one of the Wadworth drays in the town centre. He visited the brewery to mark the 30th anniversary of the return of shire horses to the brewery. The four shire horses then were Barron, Buscot, Tom and Royal.

Charles Bartholomew said: “It’s nice to see the shire horses out delivering beer and we want that to continue.

“They are also a very important part of our Visitor Centre tours and they are doing more on the PR side for visiting pubs. I think it’s not likely at the moment that we will go back to having three shires.”

Max, who is 11 this year, has been at Wadworth for eight years while ten-year-old Monty has been there since September 2009. With the existing shires at a similar age to Prince, the Gazette asked if they would be replaced when they retire.

Mr Bartholomew said: “Oh yes, definitely. We definitely want to keep horses here in Devizes. It’s an important part of the whole business and the town.”

Wadworth is planning to sell off its other site opposite the Assize Courts where the shire horses are stabled and where its wine warehouse and sign workshop is and for them to relocate to the main brewery building in Northgate Street, although there is no timescale for this.

Mr Bartholomew said new stables would be built for the shire horses, probably at the rear yard overlooking the canal.

He said: “I think we would want to build stables for three horses, if not four, because if we have horses on trial we need somewhere to put them.”