NO reflection at all on the present, award-winning incumbent, but in days of old editors of Worcester newspapers were made of very strong stuff indeed.

As this story of drinks in high places will show.

It concerns the tower and spire of St Andrew’s church in Deansway, the slenderest in the country when comparing height with base and a stand-out on the city skyline.

This eye-catching feature is all that’s left of the former St Andrew’s parish church, once the heartbeat of one of Worcester’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The main part of the building was demolished in 1949 after a clearance programme of its surrounding slum properties left it without a congregation, but the tower and its 245ft spire were considered of such architectural merit they were saved.

The spire thousands of motorists now pass every day is actually the second to be built on the site – the first was destroyed by a violent storm in 1733 – and was the work of master stonemason and builder Nathaniel “Spire Mender” Wilkinson, who was born into a Worcester family but moved to work from Ross-on-Wye.

Even before it fell down, the first spire had its problems and an entry in the parish records of 1618 says: “Paid for repayring and mending ye wether cocke 5s 10d, gilding ye cocke £1”.

There is also mention of a fatal accident at the time and the sums charged for “the burial of man who undertook paynting of ye steeple” and for “covering the grave where the man was buried that was misadventured in the church”.

So it can be a dangerous location.

Built in 1751, Wilkinson’s tower is unique in that it rises from a diameter of 20ft at the base to only seven inches at the top and its elegant profile has led to the nickname the Glover’s Needle.

The structure and its weathervane have been repaired many times over the years, but one job that caused a particular spectacle took place in the summer of 1870, when a Coventry builder by the name of George Frith, famous for his simple and inexpensive technique, was called in to refurbish the weather cock.

Frith used a kite to fly lines over the top of the tower and then fixed a block of wood as a seat to one end of the lines and 12 stone of weights to the other to create a counterbalance.

He then basically walked up the tower in about a minute, removed and repaired the weather cock and repaired the lightening conductor as well while up there.

During repairs in 1801, a Worcester barber named Bayliss shaved several of his customers at the top and about the same time a city china painter called Cotterill carried a small cup to the top and proceeded to paint it.

But getting back to the start of this story, on another occasion the weather cock was being repaired, the gung-ho editor of the Worcester Chronicle at the time, James Knight, and his friend local wine merchant James Powell, engaged in a bit of high-level networking when they climbed the tower carrying a bottle of old port.

They cracked it open at the top and drank each other’s health. Presumably coming down rather carefully.