A roundabout way of making a wonderful entrance for Wetherby

The horse statue on the roundabout at Wetherby. (S)

The horse statue on the roundabout at Wetherby. (S)

In the pipeline for more than four years, the imposing stone feature now adorning the roundabout on the main road into Wetherby has an equally impressive history.

As a project, the stone horse on the A58/A168 roundabout involved several people, a huge investment of time, money, and materials, but also a great feat of imagination.

According to ward Coun John Procter (Con), who has been involved with the idea right from its very beginning, it all started with a conversation with the man who later became a sponsor of the roundabout - Dane Bennett of Natural Stone (Leeds) Ltd.

Coun Procter said: “The first thing to say is that it looks great and everyone I have spoken to thinks the same.

“This was first mentioned to me as an idea four years ago, maybe even longer, at the Chelsea Flower Show which I had responsibility for and it was in conjunction with the people who had sponsored out entry that year, so it was seeds sewn many a year ago and these things take a long time to come to fruition.

“We had a chat about how roundabouts in this country look boring compared to on the continent and it is a lot better than I had almost dared to imagine.

“When you see the plan on a piece of paper you sort of imagine it in your mind and worry what it might be like, but it looks great.

“I am very grateful for those people who have come forward and sponsored this project, giving their time and the materials free of charge.”

Coun Procter’s fellow ward member Coun Gerald Wilkinson (Con) has also been involved with the stone horse and wanted to stress that the taxpayer paid none of the estimated £60,000 for the town’s newest feature.

“We wanted to emphasise that it is an expensive object but it was of no cost to the general public and was sponsored by the company,” he said.

“We are absolutely delighted with the statue now we have it. It makes it a wonderful entrance to the town.” The idea, then in abstract form, was taken to Christopher Heaton of Christopher Paul Heaton Design Studios, who decided to try and create a scheme with the busy town of Wetherby as the design brief.

He said: “There are 15million vehicles that travel around this roundabout each year and any company choosing to support such a scheme would have huge rewards.”

Attributed by Mr Heaton to the late director of Hesco Bastion Jimmy Heselden, the idea was to create a special roundabout. This was then adapted by Mr Heaton who wanted to reflect the interesting geology of Wetherby in the design, with a nod to the race course - a source of tourism to the town - in the full-size horses that weigh more than five tonnes and are made from Chinese granite.

Crafted in China from a three metre by three metre block of stone, Mr Bennett is also thrilled with the outcome.

He said: “I have to salute the genius of the craftsmen who worked on this, it is flawless and the detail is out of this world.

“The mane and the tail are almost feather-like.

“Most of it was carved with five inch chisels.

“It was painstaking and it took months.”

Mr Heaton and Mr Bennett will continue to sponsor the roundabout’s upkeep year on year, in partnership with Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside service.




Back to the top of the page