Thanks to the pandemic, the project has been five years in the making. So it’s understandable that last Tuesday, when the big beast arrived in town on a lorry, chairwoman Sylvia Russell felt quite emotional!
Having only seen parts of the sculpture from the design team at Cod Steaks, she had no idea what to expect – but she certainly wasn’t disappointed!
Sylvia said: “I’d only been sent sections, like the nose or hoof, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It wasn’t until it came into the auction market last Tuesday that I finally saw the whole horse.
“I actually started to cry because I was so relieved that it was what we’d envisaged. In fact, it exceeded all of our expectations. We were all just blown away by it.”
Proudly standing on a mound overlooking the main road at Lanark Auction Market, the Mighty Clydesdale – costing £50,000 – was erected on its mound and unveiled on Saturday, when a reception was also held at the market for the sponsors.
They included SLC Renewable Energy Fund, Levenseat Trust, the William Syson Foundation, Lanark’s Common Good Fund, Sir Boyd Tunnock, the Percy Fallows Trust, the Guildry of Lanark and Lanark Rotary Club.
A crowdfunding campaign also saw locals and people from across the world donate.
Sylvia said: “We can’t thank everyone enough for their support – it’s been incredible.”
Three hundred years after the first Clydesdale horse was bred at Lochlyoch Farm in Carmichael by the Paterson family, the town’s Community Development Trust unveiled its magnificent tribute sculpture.
Lanark’s Mighty Clydesdale is now proudly standing on a mound overlooking the main road at Lanark Auction Market. It cost £50,000 to design and create, with help from Cod Steaks, a renowned design firm known for its work on the Harry Potter films.
An additional £5000 was needed to create the mound and plinth for the horse to sit astride – work carried out by local contractor, John Potter, aptly enough!
It’s been a project five years in the making, delayed partly because of the pandemic having an impact on Cod Steaks production.
However, everyone at the unveiling on Saturday agreed that it was well worth the wait.
Sylvia said: “The main reaction was, simply, wow – which was my first reaction too. The feedback, both in person and online, has been incredible.
“We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community though so we’re delighted that they too are happy with it.”
The Trust’s rationale for the project was to promote Lanark’s heritage and spark local interest in the Clydesdale horse.
A schools project has already been delivered with talks in five local primary schools and all P7 children being given a copy of a specially written booklet about the history of the Clydesdale and Lanark’s connection to it.
The foreword in that book was kindly written by Prince Charles, who is becoming a regular supporter of the Trust having also donated funds for the recent labyrinth project at Castlebank.
“We’re like old friends now!” Sylvia joked. “The Prince is, in fact, patron of the Clydesdale Horse Society so I wrote to him in that capacity telling him all about the project. As a result, he very kindly agreed to write the foreword for the booklet.”
That booklet will be on sale when the Trust stages its Clydesdale Horse Exhibition in the Tolbooth from August 15 to September 10 – once the dinosaurs have vacated the town!
The unveiling on Saturday was the realisation of a long-held dream for Sylvia, who worked hard to find the best project team.
She added: “It wasn’t easy to find a company; it’s a pretty niche market. We considered Andy Scott who did the Kelpies but he was out of our budget.
“Luckily, someone sent me a picture of the Featherstone Warhorse and we knew we’d found the right company. Sculptor Dan Adams was on hand to make sure everything went smoothly last Tuesday.”
Lawrie and Symington agreed to site the horse on its land; it has held Clydesdale sales for over 100 years.
Information boards on the Clydesdale and a list of the major donors can be viewed on the market car park side of the sculpture.
The only slight criticism the Trust has heard is about a lamppost close to the statue.
Some people have complained that it interferes with the line of vision to the Mighty Clydesdale.
However, that lamppost in the not too distant future will serve a very important purpose.
Sylvia explained: “The only negative feedback we’ve had is about the lamppost but we can’t do much about that and I don’t believe it does impact on the statue.
“We’re also going to use that lamppost, with the agreement and support of South Lanarkshire Council, to floodlight the statue at night within the next few months so it’s actually a bonus it’s there!”