Wiltshire's oldest white horse gets a belated spring clean from English Heritage

We may be well into the summer, but one horse is getting a belated spring clean - the White Horse in Westbury.

People living nearby have noticed how the horse has become more grey than white in recent months, but this is all about to change. 

Richard Sharpe from SSH Conservation is leading the project: "This is a really involved undertaking.

"They’ve tested patches already and we use a machine called a ThermoTech machine which is a low pressure hot jet wash and then you just go stage by stage."

Located on the edge of Bratton Downs, it is the oldest of 13 white horses carved in Wiltshire.

It is around 180ft tall and 170ft wide and has been adopted as a symbol for the town of Westbury.

The history of the horse has been lost in the midst of time, but the first records were in the late 1700s. It’s thought it was carved to commemorate the Battle of Ethandun.

It'll take eight weeks to clean in total.

The site is looked after by English Heritage which is a charity. While it is unknown exactly how much the whole clean will cost, the paint alone will cost £25,000.

Win Scutt, from English Heritage, said: “It is such a special part of Westbury, you see it when you pass on the train. It has become the identity of Westbury. Everybody loves it.”

Westbury White Horse was originally chalk but was concreted in the 1950s. It has been cleaned before and Win is hoping this one will last.

The clean will take eight weeks in total - and it is weather dependent. Win said: "We need it to be dry.

"The surface of the horse has to be spotlessly clean and all the joints have to be filled with foam. There will be multiple coats of the specialist German paint." Locals say they are happy with the new look, including William and Toby who were flying their kite nearby: "We are happy someone is cleaning the monument. It will look great!"

English Heritage said volunteers are needed to explain to people what is happening and to share the story of this wonderful landmark of Westbury.