Marlborough’s White Horse, sited on Granham Hill and overlooking The College, West Marlborough and Preshute is becoming ever-less visible and in need of restoration.
Currently it could more appropriately described as a ‘Green Horse’, or ‘Weed Horse’ such is the level of uncultivated vegetation enveloping it.
One of the popular Wiltshire White Horses, it has helped establish the Town on the tourist map for more than 200 years and is a key part of Marlborough’s heritage. Wiltshire boasts more White Horses than the rest of the UK put together, people visit to the county to tour and view these icons, and whilst doing so end up spending money and helping the local economy around where each is situated.
Marlborough’s White Horse, as with every other Wiltshire Town’s chalk carving is a source of civic pride. It also helps put the town on the list of places to visit.
At this evening’s meeting of the Planning Committee a member of the public asked if the Town Council were aware of the decrepit state of the White Horse and were there any plans for its restoration.
The questioner then went on to ask (suggest?) that some of the S106 funding be reallocated to help the Town by enabling such restoration to be carried out – a small cost as most work would be done by an army of willing and enthusiastic volunteers (see recent letter from Geraldine Williams) – and a fund be created so that the White Horse could be maintained in a good state for years to come, to the economic benefit and pride of the Town itself.
At present there are several projects lined up for this S106 funding (monies given by developers to fund civic infrastructure), one of which is for the restoration of the former ‘sheep ramp’ from the Salisbury Road roundabout by the Business Park up to the old Railway Line and former Goods Yard. Who will use this (once completed) is a bit of a mystery. If there were a Cycle path / Walkway along the old line track, then it would make sense but at present it’s a dead end at the top of the ramp and there aren’t any active plans to reconstitute the path.
Whilst this was approved at a previous meeting of the Planning Committee in February, no-one had addressed the issue of access or removal of blockages at the top, a point raised by Councillor Mervyn Hall.
Whilst this isn’t – and should never become – a question of ‘Sheep Ramp’ or ‘White Horse’ (the Sheep Ramp will be significantly more expensive to recreate), it does highlight that this restoration – which will benefit the pride and economy of the town – can be achieved without any cost to the residents of Marlborough as funding will not need to come out of the Council budget.
Marlborough’s White Horse dates back to the early 19th Century, being cut by the pupils of ‘Mr Greasley’s Academy’, a school in the High Street that morphed into The Ivy House Hotel, only later to be sold to The College to be used as a Girls’ Boarding House. Although the White Horse was maintained on an annual basis in it’s early years the last restoration work to the White Horse, that we can ascertain was done between 15-20 years ago by the Scouts, so a refurb is again overdue.
More information about Marlborough’s White Horse, and the other of Wiltshire’s White Horses can be found here.
Cllr Andy Wilson for the Town Council explained that the White Horse is sited on College land and that there are plans for The College to recut and restore the White Horse in the Summer Term, so it will be back in pristine condition by the time that The College break up for Summer. This was planned for last year but Covid put paid to that.