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Seaside town gives ‘Lifeboat Horse’ sculpture a permanent home

A Norfolk town that fell in love with a sculpture honouring the horses who pulled its lifeboat has raised £15,000 to buy it.

The Lifeboat Horse was commissioned by Wells Maltings for the 2018 Wells Heritage Art Trail.

He stood in the town’s harbour on the north Norfolk coast last summer and proved such a popular addition that the residents decided they wanted him to stay.

He returned on 20 May to a warm reception.

“[There was] a great turnout for the return of the lifeboat horse, perfectly carried out by all the harbour team,” said harbourmaster Robert Smith.

“On behalf of the community of Wells we truly hope everybody enjoys it.”

The 3m sculpture is made of ridged metal bars — the type used in structural engineering — and has been “coloured in” with old whiskey barrels.

Artist Rachael Long gained her inspiration after speaking to Mr Smith about the role horses used to play in the town and seeing a photograph of the Wells lifeboat being pulled on to the beach by five pairs of heavy horses.

Wells-next-the-Sea lifeboat, supplied by Robert Smith, Harbourmaster, port of Wells.

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The tidal nature of the north Norfolk coast means the amount of the horse that is visible varies with the sea level. At low tide, he stands on the sandy shore, while at high tide, just his head is visible.

Rachael told H&H last summer that the reaction to the horse has been “extraordinary”.

It has got a life of its own, the way people respond to horses [is amazing], they are part of our history and culture,” she said.

He will remain in place until the autumn, then will be “stabled” over the winter and return in the spring.

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