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Wiltshire County's flag wars
By Sarah Jones
BBC Wiltshire

Wiltshire County Flag - The Great Bustard Flag
Contender number one: The Great Bustard flag by Mike Prior.

Wiltshire flags, it seems, are a bit like buses: a long time waiting then two come along at once.

It was back in 2007 that the official Wiltshire County flag, boasting a golden Great Bustard, was unveiled and hoisted ceremoniously over County Hall.

But two years on the official flag of the county, that once had the support of Wiltshire County Council, was in a flag war.

Its contender - a flag boasting a single white horse.

It was back in 2006 that Wiltshire County Council got its first glimpse of a Wiltshire county flag being promoted by Trowbridge flag enthusiast, and local printer, Mike Prior.

A 'turkey of a flag'?

Designed by Prior's daughter, graphic designer Helen Pocock, the County flag was a green and white stripy affair boasting a single gold Great Bustard as its centrepiece.

Grappling with the basic rules of flag design (who knew?), Helen Pocock came up with a County flag that was not only simple but did not exceed three colours and bore no lettering or seals.

But with a great bustard as its main design, did it fail in one of the most fundamental rules of flag design - the use of 'relevant symbols'.

For Chrys Fear, the man behind the second Wiltshire County Flag, it did.

Wiltshire County Flag - The White Horse Flag
Contender number two; The White Horse flag by Chrys Fear.

According to Mr Fear, who's been waving his flag (a dark green one with a single white horse on it) for years, the symbol of Wiltshire had to be a white horse:

"This is already a well-recognised, traditional symbol of Wiltshire.

"Indeed, when I waved a home-made version of it at Glastonbury Festival in 2005 I had a few people ask me if it was a Wiltshire flag, and they were people who were not even from the county."

It's a sentiment echoed by blogger haddock:

"The bustard is not in the minds of even Wiltshire people and to most the representation of it on the flag would bring to mind turkey twizzlers."

In fact, Mr Fear felt so strongly about the 'turkey flag' that in September 2008 he set up a 'The White Horse is Wiltshire's True Flag' petition and managed to enrage 21 people enough to put their names to the recognition of 'the white horse on a green field as the true flag of Wiltshire'.

But personal slights and petitions aside, for those in the great bustard camp the flag has been a complete success with flags and car stickers on proud display in places as far afield as the Middle East, America and Italy.

The fight for pole position

All of which was leaving Moonrakers asking which was the true flag of Wiltshire?

Well, on December 1st, it fell to Wiltshire County Council to again decide which flag to hoist over County Hall.

The Great Bustard flag, it seems, despite being chosen by councillors originally and marketed since 2007 as Wiltshire's county flag had never been formally registered with The Flag Institute.

All of which meant that the County was again flagless and the space at the top of the flagpole at County Hall was up for grabs.

Flying the flag for Wiltshire

But after a debate, it was announced, that Wiltshire County Council had plumped for the Great Bustard flag which has now been formally adopted and registered with the Flag Institute.

A white horse, it seems, is no match for Wiltshire's biggest big bird and the great bustard will soon be taking to the skies again officially as the county flag of Wiltshire.

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