Express & Star

Historic day for Cradley as church replaces golden weather vane that disappeared 70 years ago

Way above Cradley a once-in-a-lifetime event happened as a golden weathercock was installed on the top of St Peter's Church.

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Luke Perry with the weather vane

The original weather vane was removed for safety reasons around 70 years ago but internationally renowned artist Luke Perry has created a replica which should last "forever".

Luke Perry abseiling down the tower

The five-metre high weathervane has a gold leaf cockerel, which spins in the direction of the wind.

The weather vane was installed with the help of Oldbury's Cox's cranes as Luke helped guide the sculpture into position as crowds gathered to watch the precision job.

It is the latest part of a project to improve St Peter's Church including saving the clock dial from Cradley's St Luke's Church before demolition in 2016. After raising £15,000 the church put St Luke's clock on St Peter's Church tower.

Easy does it! Cox's cranes lifting the weathercock into place

Project leader James Brookes, St Peter's Church organist, said: "This is a very proud day for St Peter's Church, first we got the clock from St Luke's Church on the tower, and now replacing the weathervane after we lost it so many years ago is wonderful.

"We wanted the new weathervane to be the same as the old one we lost, which was a golden cockerel, and we are delighted how Luke Perry has created such an iconic sculpture which will be here forever."

He added: "We are very grateful to the Ironmongers Company in London who donated £5,000 project, to a local family who donated £200 and to everyone who attended our various fundraising concerts, we could not have done this without them."

Top of the world! Luke Perry with the installed weathercock

The original weathervane was placed on top of the tower when it was built in 1875 and was a well known landmark until is disappeared.

Luke Perry, who has created sculptures of chainmaker Mary MacArthur in Cradley Heath, the Sikh soldier in Smethwick and helped install a replica of Titanic's anchor in Netherton for Channel 4, has a special link to St Peter's Church.

He said: "I was really proud to be asked to create this weathervane because I have family buried in the graveyard, my grandparents are here and I have got a plot for myself too.

"This was a really interesting and unique project because weathervane's are not really made anymore so there is no guides or instructions how to make them spin.

"We had to use its own weight to get it spinning with the wind because there can be no mechanical parts used. But it should be here longer than even humans are around to see it, and I love it can be seen for miles around."

Chris Cox, from Cox's Cranes, helped dangle the weathercock above the 35-metre tower, which James and Luke abseiled down after the job was finished.

He said: "It looks a tricky job but if I am honest the hardest part was getting through the church gate, one of my indicators got smashed but that does not matter, it looks fantastic up there now."