Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 14:29 UK

New coat of chalk for white horse

Contractors lay the new chalk coat on the horse
The original contractor ran off with the money before the carving was finished

One of Wiltshire's famous white horses is to get a £21,000 coat of fresh chalk ahead of its bicentenary in 2012.

The south-facing Alton Barnes white horse stares out over the Vale of Pewsey from Milk Hill.

Because the white horse stands in the middle of a site of special scientific interest lorries cannot be used to bring in the chalk.

Instead a helicopter will fly 150 tonnes of chalk to the top of the hill for the refurbishment contractors.

Contractor hanged

Land owner Tim Carson and Alton Barnes Parish Council have worked together on the project.

Parish councillor Steve Hepworth said: "Natural England controls the management of the land and as part of that management there is no vehicular access."

Stuart Hales the National Nature Reserve Manager for Natural England said: "We needed to find some way of getting such a large quantity of chalk over the land without damaging the habitat and the contractors came up with the idea of using a helicopter.

"It was starting to go a bit brown and lose its shape so once it's done it's going to be great and it'll be wonderful to see it restored to its former glory."

The Alton Barnes horse has a troubled past. The original contractor John Thorne, who was paid to design and create the horse by local farmer Robert Pile, ran off with the money before the carving was completed.

Thorne was later hanged for other crimes.

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