In 2018, to mark our re-opening after extensive renovation, Wells Maltings commissioned a series of 17 works of art to be installed across the town of Wells-Next-The-Sea. One of these was the magnificent Lifeboat Horse statue which is now permanently located in the harbour.
This beautiful 3-metre-high, metal and oak sculpture, created by Rachael Long, was inspired by the horses that would have pulled the Wells lifeboat in the 1800s. Teams of heavy work horses would haul the lifeboat all the way from the lifeboat house on the quay, 2.5 miles out to Holkham Gap to be launched. This gruelling work would be carried out in all weather conditions to help those in distress.
The Lifeboat Horse is a celebration of these amazing animals, who were a vital part of the lifeboat team for so many years. At low tide, the stylised horse stands proud on the sand at the edge of the marshes. As the tide rises, the sculpture is slowly submerged, giving it a unique relationship with its environment.
When the sculpture was removed at the end of the Heritage Art Trail, it had already become a beloved landmark and the people of Wells were very keen to reinstate it. A collaborative campaign was launched to bring the Lifeboat Horse back to its rightful home and £15,000 was raised by the local community, who love the town and its heritage as a working harbour.
Wells Maltings are very proud of the hand we had in bringing the Lifeboat Horse to Wells, and of the part we played in keeping it here. We hope it will remain a stunning asset for Wells and a tribute to all those who helped retain it as part of all our lives.