The golden weathervane on top of Bridport Town Hall, regilded in 2011 by Bridport artist Jemma Thompson, pictured on the right.

YOU'RE SO VANE: The weathervane on top of Bridport Town Hall, resplendent in its new coat of gold. Bridport artist Jemma Thompson is pictured right.

THE WEATHERVANE on top of Bridport Town Hall has been re-gilded – and very fine it looks too.

Bridport artist Jemma Thompson applied sheet gold in her studio on St Michael’s trading estate in the South West Quadrant.

The weathervane is much bigger – and heavier – than it looks from down on the ground.

It’s 2.4 metres long and is made from lead and copper, so it weighs around 100kg.

It took 10 men to get it back up on top of the Town Hall’s cupola.

Bob Gillis, clerk to Bridport Town Council, said: “The dome of the cupola has also been cleaned and the columns repainted. The clock face and surrounding slates are now being repaired and restored and as work is completed from the top down we will be lowering the scaffolding.” 

The weathervane and cupola on top of Bridport Town Hall before re-gilding and restoration, with a view over the town towards the West Dorset countryside.

LACKLUSTRE: Bridport Town Hall weathervane and cupola before re-gilding and restoration.

Bridport Town Hall is being restored as part of a £1.2 million Heritage and Conservation Project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bridport Town Council, Dorset County Council, and West Dorset District Council.

Weathervane was stuck in Somerset cart wheel hub

Bridport Town Hall is Grade 1 Listed but that doesn’t mean it was constructed with impeccable skills and materials first time round.

I was talking about it in The Loders Arms the other evening to structural engineer Simon Brody of Brody Forbes Partnership in West Bay.

He was saying that a key part of the structure supporting the weathervane (the bit the pole was stuck into, in very non-technical terms) had been found to be the hub of an old Somerset cart wheel. He knew it was Somerset because there was a name inscribed which he’d traced back as far as 1823.

Mr Brody wondered whether a cart had come down from somewhere like Taunton or Shepton Mallett and broken down and, rather than try to repair it, they’d salvaged the wheel hub for re-use.

And you have to say: it may have been improvised back in the 19th century, but no one could say that it hadn’t lasted, given that it’s now 2011.

Editor’s Note: Jemma Thompson also gilded the fine golden bull hanging outside The Bull Hotel in Bridport. Pretty cool to have two gold artefacts in Bridport town centre. I can only think of the King George III statue in (say) Weymouth. The statue’s mason, incidentally, was James Hamilton – who also worked on Bridport Town Hall…