Search

What a view - but would you dare? Experts remove weather vane from Cathedral spire

PUBLISHED: 19:23 24 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:58 25 August 2020

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Archant

Restoration work has begun on a historic part of Norwich’s skyline after the cathedral’s weathercock was brought down for the first time in nearly six decades.

The The "threepennt piece" as it is called on the site, which has been installed in Norwich Cathedral to prevent further bulging of the walls of the spire. Rods fixed to channels on the exterior are connected, with springs, to the "threepenny piece". Weighing over 3 cwt. It took six men a whole day to carry and drag the "threepenny piece" up the narrow twisting staircases to its position. March, 1963. Picture: Archant Library

The gold cockerel weather vane will be regilded as part of maintenance work to the 900 year old building, having stood at the very top of it since 1756 - but could be older than first thought.

The father and son team of Chris and Sam Milford, from historic building conversation specialists WallWalkers, made the 315ft climb to the top of the spire.

This 200-year-old capstan at the top of the tower of Norwich Cathedral is being used to carry materials up to the spire where maintenance work is being done at the moment. March, 1963. Picture: Archant LibraryThis 200-year-old capstan at the top of the tower of Norwich Cathedral is being used to carry materials up to the spire where maintenance work is being done at the moment. March, 1963. Picture: Archant Library

Mr Milford senior, 72, and his son were joined by Marco Briaschi and Joe Day and took around three hours to bring the weathercock back to the ground.

More: Restoration work begins on Norwich Cathedral spire for first time in decades

Over the next few days the team will restore the piece before overlaying around 300 sheets of gold leaves before returning it to the top of the spire.

Cathedral Cockerel, August 1986. Picture: Archant LibraryCathedral Cockerel, August 1986. Picture: Archant Library

The weather vane stands at 83cm, or 2ft 9inches, and is believed to date back to when the top part of the cathedral was rebuilt by John Parsons.

Studies are being carried out to examine if the weathercock is older than 1756 after discovering a stamp marked 1668 and if it contains coins left by previous restorers.

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Bristol-based historic building conservation specialists WallWalkers, Chris Milford and Sam Milford Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANWeathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Bristol-based historic building conservation specialists WallWalkers, Chris Milford and Sam Milford Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Chris Milford said: “It’s in good physical condition, it’s not breaking, not rusting, there is one little screw that is rusting.”

The team were also able to clear up another long standing rumour, in regards to the weathercock’s size.

The Wallwalkers team climbing up Norwich Cathedral as part of restoration work on the weathercock. Picture: WallWalkersThe Wallwalkers team climbing up Norwich Cathedral as part of restoration work on the weathercock. Picture: WallWalkers

Sam Milford said: “It is a lot smaller than people thought. People thought it was the size of a small donkey.”

The current spire is the third built in the Cathedral’s 900 year history after previous spires were destroyed by storms and fire caused by lightning.

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANWeathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The last major restoration of the stone spire was in the early 1960s and the project was overseen by architect Bernard Feilden.

Pictures from this paper show the last restoration work on the spire dating back to 1963.

Sam Milford and his father Chris he scaled to the top of Norwich Cathedral as part of restoration work on the weathercock. Picture: WallWalkersSam Milford and his father Chris he scaled to the top of Norwich Cathedral as part of restoration work on the weathercock. Picture: WallWalkers

The Reverend Dr Peter Doll, Canon librarian and Vice-Dean at the cathedral said the work will allow it to shine more brightly for future generations.

He said; “The Cathedral’s towering spire and the golden weathercock that sits on top is such an iconic sight in our fine city. The restoration work currently taking place will help ensure this historic landmark remains part of Norwich’s skyline for generations to come.”

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANWeathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN
Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN
Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN
Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN
Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Weathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral. Bristol-based historic building conservation specialists WallWalkers, Marco Biaschi, Chris Milford, Sam Milford and Joe Day Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANWeathercock project at cathedral - weather vane being removed from Cathedral. Bristol-based historic building conservation specialists WallWalkers, Marco Biaschi, Chris Milford, Sam Milford and Joe Day Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Norwich Evening News