|Photo: James Mackie. Photo used with permission|
Local designer James Mackie of Dalton Square-based Mackies of Lancaster, charged with restoring the famous New Street "Rocking Horse" to its former glory, says he is hopeful the listed shop decoration will be back in its rightful place by the end of this month.
|The Rocking Horse back in May. Photo © James Mackie. Used with permission|
As we first reported back in May, James has been busy working on returning the rocking horse to 8 New Street for many months, restoring what is the third horse to grace the building's exterior, this one first erected in about 1987 when the shop was run as a Lawson's toy shop.
Some of the costs of the restoration have been met thanks to funding from Lancaster BID. (There is a modest fund at the bid that businesses can apply for for part-funding towards the restoration/ refurbishment of their shop fronts etc.).
In recent years the premises - still owned by the Lawson family - have been used as a restaurant and, most recently, as a vintage toy shop. Earlier this year the shop was taken over by much-loved takeaway, Wibbly Wobbly, making a welcome return to the city after developing a successful business on the Lancaster University campus.
"Apart from some details, the main painting of the horse and the rocker rails has been completed," says James. "In total we have two coats of preservative/primer, two coats of exterior undercoat, one coat of specialist stain block, one further coat of exterior undercoat and two coats of 8-year guarantee exterior gloss. Of course, there has been sanding between the earlier coats to get a good finish. Although smelly work, the painting has been satisfying after the challenges of the stripping and re-building process. She finally looks ready for the great outdoors!
|Photo © James Mackie. Used with permission|
|Rocking Horse hair! Photo © James Mackie. Used with permission|
"I received the horsehair by mail-order two weeks ago and spent last week embedding the mane, forelock and tail into the woodwork using silicone and copper roofing nails (which will not rust).," he reveals. "I spent more money than I had intended on the hair because I wanted it long so that I could trim to shape – always better to have too much than too little. I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful, almost fairy-tale look! Nice as it is ,I think a trim may be necessary.
"From now on I’m concentrating on the lettering – which will be quite a job - and then her face and hoof details. She should be ready for putting back above the shop later this month.
"I shall be sorry to see her go."
Our thanks to James for permission to feature his photographs.
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• Mackies of Lancaster: www.mackiesoflancaster.co.uk