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Visitors have opportunity to see Osmington White Horse from new viewing point
VISITORS can make the most of the iconic Osmington White Horse from a new public viewing point.
HM Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Valerie Pitt-Rivers opened the off-road location on Osmington Hill to mark the final stage of the four-year restoration project.
It can be found on the A353 heading towards Osmington from Weymouth.
The ceremony took place one year after a visit from Princess Anne who formally recognised the voluntary community effort and hard work that was carried out to restore the eroded and weather-beaten horse.
Mrs Pitt-Rivers paid tribute to the community project involving 2,000 volunteer hours devoted to constructing a place where passersby can stop and enjoy the sight cut into the hill opposite.
“I think it has been an absolutely fantastic restoration project.
“Visitors can now stop at this view point and admire yet another wonderful part of Dorset, which they couldn’t have done before.
“After four years of hard work by volunteers, I am so happy to be here today to mark their achievements and it is a year to the day of Princess Anne’s visit.”
The monument was originally created in tribute to King George III in 1808 who could not return to Weymouth to acknowledge the monument due to illness.
The Princess Royal celebrated the tribute on behalf of her royal relative.
Resident Geoff Codd, who has championed the project and been involved throughout, said: “For years I have watched people craning their necks to see over the hedgerows trying to catch a glimpse of this horse and its Royal rider.
“I passionately believed that we needed to share our monument more widely, and thanks to help from so many people over the past year, we have finally achieved that.”
King George III was particularly fond of Weymouth and visited the town frequently.
He enjoyed sea bathing and often attended the now long gone ‘Little Theatre Royal’ when in residence.
The King also loved the local countryside and would ride his favourite charger Adonis, a Hanoverian Cream – a now extinct line, across the Ridgeway to visit friends.
TV show blamed for greying monument
CELEBRITY Anneka Rice was blamed for greying the monument after spreading hundreds of Portland Stone chippings on it for a Challenge Anneka TV show in 1989.
Measuring 85 metres long and nearly 100 metres high, the Osmington White Horse had steadily deteriorated over the last 200 years.
Its outline had become ill-defined by encroaching plants, unauthorised modifications and the 160 tonnes of limestone mistakenly put on it in 1989.
A community restoration project was therefore formed in May 2009.
More than 350 round helicopter trips took place to remove 160 tonnes of limestone.
Further research in 2011 by English Heritage and Ordnance Survey included an analysis of oil paintings from the period, old photographs and Ordnance Survey maps dating back to 1883, and an extensive on-site archaeological analysis of earthworks.
Funding came from Natural England, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.