Golden history of model ship

This weather vane was removed from the top of Blackpool Town Hall
This weather vane was removed from the top of Blackpool Town Hall

WE asked if readers remembered the Golden Hind, removed from the top of Blackpool Town Hall in 1966 before the spire was demolished.

Among those who contacted Memory Lane was Malcolm Eaves, of Cunliffe Road, Blackpool, who took this close-up picture of the restored model in 2004 – complete with his own reflection in the sail!

At that time the ship took pride of place in a window of the town centre manager’s office in Market Street.

Malcolm says: “I admired the ship as a schoolboy because it was interesting and attractive, although I had no idea of the scale.

“When I saw it after all those years on display, I decided a photograph would be the next best thing to owning it and ironically ended up appearing in the sail.”

The weather vane was made in Manchester around 1899 by metalwork artist Samuel Cooke, father of famous journalist and radio broadcaster Alistair Cooke – both with long associations with Blackpool.

The vane was placed 180ft on top of the Town Hall spire around 1900, a focal point for 66 years, but the weight was causing the clock tower to splay out at the sides.

It lay in store at the council’s highways depot at Layton until 1978 when George Halliday, former headmaster of Montgomery School, Bispham, arranged for its restoration and subsequent placement on the school roof above the front door.

The work was carried out by metal work teacher Harry Buckley.

However, it was causing damage to the roof, was taken down and was stored underneath the school stage.

It was eventually handed over to Blackpool Civic Trust in November 1993, repaired and carefully restored by Blackpool and The Fylde College students and staff.

The ship was relocated to the town centre manager’s office in 1995 and displayed until 2005 when the office was relocated.

The vane then moved into the Town Hall, displayed on the ground floor behind reception, but again moved into storage the following year.

It has been kept at the Municipal Buildings since then and, it is intended, one day a more permanent location can be established, and once more the weather vane will become a feature and highlight for all to see.

Although it has always been referred to as the Golden Hind, it is now thought to have been Samuel Cooke’s interpretation of Lord Nelson’s flagship the Foudroyant, which ran aground off Blackpool Promenade on June 16, 1897, during a storm and was subsequently wrecked.

It is also believed the weather vane was fashioned from copper taken off the Foudroyant.

If this could be proved, it would make it a most significant artefact within the town’s history, and intensive research is currently taking place to try and authenticate these beliefs.