Last week Lancaster’s iconic rocking horse was been returned to its rightful place 14 months after it was taken down.
In a small, understated ceremony on Tuesday, David Morris the MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale and the Government’s Self Employment Ambassador, removed a cloth revealing the newly renovated horse in front of a crowd of friends, colleagues, residents and onlookers.
Just before Midday, the people closely associated with the horse witnessed the great unveiling marking the end of months of hard work. David Morris said “It is absolutely marvellous to see that we have got her back. It’s great, it’s iconic, it’s part of Lancaster.”
The project has been the collaboration of five organisations in Lancaster that enabled the restored Rocking Horse to be returned to the Wibbly Wobbly Burger Bar in New Street: Lancaster BID, Mackies, Castlegate Security, property owners Liz and Matt Mackay, and the Wibbly Wobbly Burger Bar itself.
The plight of the horse has captured the imagination of local people. It’s been a hot topic on social media platforms since it was removed from the shop in September 2014. It’s the last memoir of the Lawson’s Toy Shop and has been a significant challenge to restore and reinstate due to its age, condition, size and weight.
James Mackie of Mackies in Dalton Square has spent countless hours over the past months lovingly restoring the historic sign, which had deteriorated over many years of being exposed to the elements. This week after being reinstated for all to see, everyone agreed that the results have been well worth waiting for.
James said “I’ve grown very fond of her over the past months even though we have both seen each other at our worst during the restoration – there has been some ‘language’! After all the corrupt fibreglass had been chipped off, I made her a new hip and a lot of rotten wood had to be replaced and re-carved. All the major joints were re-glued and dowelled and then a lengthy filling and sanding process was done before a comprehensive paint job. I replaced the mane and tail with real horse hair as per the original and then gilded and painted the famous lettering. She looks happy now, when I first got her to my workshop she had quite a long face!”
Local security provider, Castlegate Security generously offered to undertake the enormous task of reinstating the finished sign, free of charge, to ensure that was restored safely to its rightful place.
Liz Hickingbotham, BID manager said: “When Liz and Matt Mackay approached the BID for help to restore the Rocking Horse, it was a proposal which we could not overlook. The Rocking Horse is a well-known piece of Lancaster’s heritage and the public and other businesses have been waiting for its return for over a year”.
She finished by saying “The BID aims to improve the street-scape of the city centre and renovating the appearance of shop fronts is one way of doing this. Lancaster BID has a duty to work with businesses located on quieter streets, to help increase their footfall. We’re hoping the horse will attract people to the amazing shops and eateries in New Street and Church Street, an area which can sometimes be overlooked”.