The weathervane on Cannock Mill may not be a thing of beauty but its construction was a masterpiece of improvisation. It is believed it was made by the late Wally Lock, who restored the Mill and whose children sold us the site. Although he loved the Mill, he wasn’t precious about the details.
He snipped the silhouettes of the fox and duck and cardinal points out of a thin copper sheet, soldered on whiskers to the fox and then soldered the silhouettes to 15mm copper tubes. The use of metric tubes suggests it dates from the early 1970s.
Most of the tubes were fixed together with brass compression fittings, which are still in a quite good condition.
However, the spindle part of the bearing was a copper tube, whilst the rotating part was made out of iron. This was not a good combination and at some point the metals fused together, freezing the fox and duck in one position.
It proved impossible to separate the two parts of the weathervane without some minor damage. Look closely and you will see that two cardinal point tubes had to be shortened slightly.
The iron part couldn’t be replaced without damaging the rest of the rotating part of the weathervane, so it has only been cleaned and painted.
The old copper tubular spindle could not be reused and has been replaced with a 15mm solid brass rod. This is separated from the iron by a 15mm stainless steel ball bearing, packed in heavy motorcycle chain grease, which should keep the water out and minimise corrosion.
Retaining this particular weathervane maintains a welcome link with the past and this repair should keep it operating for now. But it won’t stop it rusting, so it won’t last forever.
I hope the longevity of this repair won’t be put to the test, rather that it prompts us to commission a replacement that speaks to our community and its future at Cannock Mill. I think this just might be what Wally would have preferred too!