In the early 1970s Herefordshire witnessed the dedication of the second biggest spire to be built in the country during the 20th century. Flashback recalls the days of newsmakers on high.

THE good people of a Golden Valley community felt comfortable once more whenever they gazed skywards. At long last their beloved church had a spire again.

What had become known as 'the stump' had gone.

And as the steeple pointed sharply towards heaven and their maker, the Peterchurch folk reflected how the spire symbolised the combined talents of ancient and modern man.

It was once said that there was more history per square foot of masonry about Peterchurch than almost any other church in Herefordshire.

Yet another fascinating chapter was added in 1972 when the spire - chopped off halfway in 1949 for safety reasons - became whole again.

What would Norman man have made of it? The 186ft spire - one of the tallest in England - is now mostly made of fibreglass.

Erected over 30 years ago in three prefabricated sections - each crane-lifted into place - the spire's new look suffered a dodgy baptism.

When the top section of the revolutionary creation was hoisted into position it did not fit properly and had to be taken down. It was a great disappointment to a crowd of onlooking villagers, many of whom had been up since 6am to witness the big lift.

Big day

But the community, justifiably proud of how much money had been raised for the project, soon had their day of dedication.

J C Yeomans, chairman of the spire committee, officially 'handed over' the admired addition to the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev. Mark Hodson. Also dedicated was a lectern edition of the New English Bible given by parishioners in memory of Olive Mary Lloyd, one-time secretary of the committee.

The congregation sang with gusto 'We Love the Place, O' God' to which had been added two verses written by the vicar, John de la Tour Davies.

The clergyman was soon responsible for another big occasion at the church - a far more dramatic one.

He challenged village postmistress Yvonne Parker to take to the heights and she accepted the dare.

The steeplejack's ladders still attached to the spire spawned a new game called 'kiss the cockerel'.

Local teenager Peter Smith invented the game which involved clambering up the ladders, planting a 'smacker' on the cockerel weathervane perched on top and then returning to the ground.

Mrs Parker was one of several to achieve the feat and she even waved happily to villagers watching from the graveyard below. Everyone laughed - except the notoriously sour-faced stone bishop inside the church!