Steeple cockerel sparks debate

Fun times at the foot of Falkirk Steeple
Fun times at the foot of Falkirk Steeple
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The golden cockerel that has stood proudly at the top of the landmark Falkirk Steeple for centuries has been taken down for a well deserved makeover.

But claims the bird which has operated as the weather vane at the highest point of the spire since 1814 is missing from its lofty perch for the first time in 89 years has sparked a good natured debate.

In its official press release announcing the news, Falkirk Council claims the last time the impressive piece of brass measuring over three feet by two feet did not dominate the skyline was in June 1927 when it was blown off after being hit by lightning.

That has been backed by Falkirk Herald columnist and leading member of Falkirk Local History Society Ian Scott – but challenged by one Falkirk family who say it was actually taken down in May 1979 – and they should know because it was a relative who did the work and they have a photograph to prove it!

After the council revealed the cockerel had been removed to be cleaned and repaired as part of a £750,000 project to restore and conserve the town’s historic Grade A listed building, the information was carried on the BBC’s red button service.

Paul Anderson viewed the article with a keen interest because his father-in-law, Willie Henderson worked with Falkirk District Council 37 years ago and climbed the tower to unbolt all the fittings and bring it down safely.

Paul (48) from Napier Crescent, Bainsford, said: “We’d been talking about all the scaffolding going up around the steeple and wondering what was happening when Willie showed us the picture taken of him and three workmates just after he had finished the job.

“I let the BBC know it was wrong to say it had been up there for 89 years uninterupted. They said they would change it, but then dropped the story altogether. I just thought if they wanted to report the story it should be accurate.”

Willie (80) from Westquarter worked with the council until 1982 as a foreman plasterer.

He said: “It was just another job. I climbed to the top, took the cockerel down, put it in the van and drove back to the depot at Burnbank where the picture was taken. The other three lads in the photo were painters given the job of cleaning it up and replacing the goldleaf. When that was done, somebody else was told to put it back up again.”