Some Of The World’s Most Notable Weathervanes

The weathervane is a rotating instrument mounted on the highest point of a building to show which way the wind is blowing. Since the earliest weathervanes were in use, possibly in Ancient China, they have also been decorative. Common designs include cockerels, horses, ships, and arrows. However there have been some more unusual designs over the years.

Here’s a look at some of the world’s most notable weathervanes. 

The world’s largest weathervane

The Tío Pepe weathervane in Jerez, Spain, is the world’s largest operational weathervane, according to the Guiness Book of World Records. It is used to advertise a brand of sherry rather than to tell which way the wind is blowing however!

There are some challenges to the throne. In Yukon, Canada, a retired transport aircraft, the Douglas DC-3, is mounted on a swivelling support and is used by pilots at the Whitehorse International Airport to check the wind direction. 

Further claims to the title include a 48 ft tall and 26ft long weathervane in Montague, Michigan, which is topped by a model boat named the Ella Ellenwood. 

Finally, the Canadian Tractor Museum in Westlock, Alberta, Canada, boasts a 50ft tall working weathervane that is topped with a vintage tractor.

The world’s oldest weathervane

The inspiration for untold millions of weathervanes over the centuries is the il Gallo di Ramperto, or the Rooster Ramperto in Brescia, Italy. It is thought to have been in place on the church tower between about 820 and 1891, and it can now be viewed in the Museum of Santa Giulia.

The metal weathervane has a cockerel motif and was commissioned by Pope Leo IV. The cockerel has traditionally been associated with Christianity, possibly because of the Biblical story in Luke 22:34, in which Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times before the rooster crows. 

The cockerel has since become the emblem of St Peter, and Pope Gregory I deemed it to be a fitting symbol of the Christian religion. 

Old Father Time Weathervane, Lord’s Cricket Ground

The figure of Old Father Time placing (or perhaps removing) bails from the wicket is a landmark feature of Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London. The 6ft 6in weathervane is made from cast iron which is painted black and features the stooping mythical figure with a scythe over his shoulder.

This might seem to be a rather unusual choice of design for the gentleman’s game of cricket, which is traditionally associated with the darker realms of mythology. It was presented to the club committee by Sir Herbert Baker, who was the architect of the second grand stand. 

The construction of the stand was delayed in part by the 1926 General Strike, and apparently the weathervane was intended to be a token of goodwill or apology for the lateness of the completion. 

The Father Time figure was dislodged when it became entangled in cables from a drifting barrage balloon in WWII, and was stored for the remainder of the war. The weathervane has since been damaged by lightning and high winds, although it was fully repaired each time.

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