The Father Time weather-vane, which has become such a well-known Lord’s symbol, was a gift to MCC from Sir Herbert Baker, the architect of the second Grand Stand, which was completed in 1926.
It was a complete surprise to the MCC Committee, no member of whom had any prior knowledge of the gift. It was intended to compensate MCC for the disquiet felt by the Club about the cost of the stand and its late completion, which was caused partly by the 1926 General Strike.
The figure represented is the mythical Father Time character (similar to the Roman god Janus after whom the month of January is named) who watches over the passage of time.
There has always been some debate in cricketing circles as to whether the figure depicted is placing the bails at the start of a game or removing them at the end of a day’s play. Diana Rait Kerr, MCC’s first Curator, suggests that he is removing the bails. and that it derives from Law 12.3 of the Laws of Cricket: "After the call of Time, the bails shall be removed from both wickets".
However, the cricket writer E.W. Swanton takes the more optimistic view that the bails are being placed in anticipation of a day’s cricket.
The weather vane is around 6ft 6in tall in total although the Father Time figure itself measures approximately 5ft 4in. It is made of cast iron, which is painted black, with gilding on the tip of the wind-arrow and the end of Father Time’s sickle.
Father Time was the only casualty of the Second World War at Lord’s when the cables of a drifting barrage balloon became entangled with the weathervane which was wrenched from the top of the Grand Stand and deposited on the seats below. He spent the remainder of the War housed safely in the Committee Room.
Father Time has also suffered damage in peacetime. Early in 1992 the weather vane was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm. One hand had to be replaced and the entire weather vane was repaired, repainted and regilded by the MCC Works Department.
It was during this period that Father Time took his first trip away from Lord’s when he made a special appearance on the BBC children’s programme Blue Peter on 20 February 1992.
In March 2015 heavy winds also caused damage to the weather vane, requiring specialist conservation work away from Lord’s. The work took two months, meaning that in May 2015 when England played New Zealand, Father Time missed a Test match for the first time since he arrived at Lord’s in 1926.
When Sir Herbert Baker’s Grand Stand was demolished Father Time was moved to his new home on top of the lift shaft between the Mound and Tavern stands. From this new position Father Time continues to watch over Lord’s into the 21st century.