IT stood watch over Bradford for more than a century.

Now a copper weather vane - believed to depict either a dragon or a sea serpent - is back home on top of City Hall after being painstakingly restored.

The dragon’s original head has been welded onto a repaired copper body and new tail.

It also boasts a new fiery-red tongue after restorers took a guess at what the long-lost original would have looked like.

Bob Evans, senior projects manager for building and surveying at Bradford Council, said: “It’s a guess at what was there before. There was a bracket inside the mouth where there was something, so we have actually guessed at the size of the tongue.

“We thought we would do it so it looks like it is spitting fire.”

The work, by Calderdale-based contractors Halifax Ironworks, forms part of the multi-million pound council project to refurbish the Grade I listed Victorian landmark.


The weather vane has now been put back on top of the clock tower, with the original mercury swivel joint replaced by a new stainless steel ball-bearing joint.

Mr Evans said the mercury joint had held up well, but “with new rules and regulations regarding mercury, we decided to do away with it”.

All the work means the dragon is looking its best since its last restoration, believed to have been in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

The refurbishment of City Hall got back up-and-running last month after contractor Anelay Building and Conservation was bought out by Szerelmey Group after its parent group went into administration.

The work is on its fifth and last stage, renovating the clock tower.

Parts of the scaffolding around the tower have now begun to be removed.

And new ornamental oak finials have been added to gables.

Mr Evans said: “The old ones were shot. Two of them fell off when we touched them, it was quite dangerous, and one was already missing.

“They are the size of a beach ball so they are big, heavy things.”

Next on the itinerary is more work to the stonework and roof.

Mr Evans said a “rather large tree” growing from the tower still had to be removed.

And he said some “badly-damaged, weathered stone” needed replacing.

He said they were on track to get the whole project completed by the end of March, weather-permitting.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, whose portfolio at Bradford Council includes the authority’s estate, said: “It’s great to have the ‘dragon’ weather vane restored to former glory and back where it belongs overlooking the city.

“As work progresses to the targeted completion date of late March 2017 we’ll be seeing more of the restoration work unveiled, preserving the magnificence of this Grade I listed building for generations to come.”