Arts & Equitainment: Kilburn White Horse

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Kilburn White Horse


In 1857 Thomas Taylor came back to his hometown of Kilburn in Yorkshire inspired. He had just attended celebrations of the famous Uffington White Horse and decided that a large white horse carved into the side of a hill was just what the locals needed. Thirty-three men were involved in cutting it, and 6 tons of lime were used to whiten the exposed rock, according to Wikipedia.

But as equestrians everywhere know, maintenance of a horse is never just a one-time thing.


A 300 Foot Paint Job? Neigh Problem! proclaims the Daily Mail as they profile a family where taking care of the horse has become an multi-generational tradition.

“John Bielby, chairman of the Kilburn White Horse Association, said:

‘This is the fourth time we have sprayed it now – we are getting quite good at it.

‘The horse goes with the weather. When the sun shines it dries it out and makes it really white. But when it’s wet and miserable it goes very dark grey and it gets the nickname, the “old grey mare.”

‘It was getting quite grey again. The chippings turn over and put up the side which has not been painted. We also get algae growing on the chippings so we try to paint it every five years.’

The most northerly of all the figures is not actually built on chalk like its southern cousins. In years gone by chalk chippings were tipped onto the horse and spread by hand.”


Mr. Bielby has been involved with the restoration for over 40 years: ‘It is an icon of Yorkshire and it’s one of those things you get a passion for,’ he said.

‘It is one of those things – it gets into your blood. I hope my daughter will take the reins when I get too old to walk up and down the horse.’

Three generations of the family are due to help when Mr Bielby is joined by his son, seven-year-old grandson and nine-year-old granddaughter.

Full story here.


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