Latest venture for Gorleston’s hidden creative talent

08:00 26 February 2014

3D designs in Gorleston are making a pirate ship to be used at Yarmouth's Hippodrome circus.
Jack Jay with Ian Westbrook from 3D Designs.

3D designs in Gorleston are making a pirate ship to be used at Yarmouth's Hippodrome circus. Jack Jay with Ian Westbrook from 3D Designs.

©Archant 2014

It’s the latest challenge to confront a creative firm tucked away among offshore companies on Gorleston’s riverside: how do you get a 15-metre long, five metre high pirate ship through a theatre door?

The solution devised by 3D Creations founder Ian Westbrook, has been to build it in 30 sections “like an Ikea flatpack”.

He is still expecting fun and games once inside Great Yarmouth’s Hippodrome Circus as the galleon is to be installed across an area of raised seating and the wood will have to be carefully cut to fit the steps.

Providing a fitting backdrop for the Hippodrome’s 2014 Easter Pirate Special is the latest project for his 10-strong team that has put Gorleston on the global map for building everything from stage scenery and film sets to backdrops for theme parks and visitor attractions.

Travelling to St Thomas Island in the Caribbean to build a pirate town for the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Mr Westbrook’s workforce has also designed scenery for West End productions such as the David Essex musical All the Fun of the Fair.

Closer to home, the firm has been designing, building, painting and installing scenery and props for the Cromer Seaside Special since the 1980s.

Mr Westbrook, 49, whose love affair with the entertainment industry began as a teenager working as a stage hand on Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier summer shows, launched his business in 1985.

He said their success over the years had been down to offering a “one-stop shop for design, building and installation”.

“The economic downturn hit us in that we have had to freeze our prices to keep business; and that is with the cost of materials going up all the time. The price of timber has doubled since September,” he said.

However, the company has still been able to expand steadily, moving into bigger premises two years ago and doubling its turnover in the past seven years.

Mr Westbrook said: “Last year we increased our workforce by taking on a full-time film editor and cameraman to work on moving images and in January we employed a third scenic painter.”

Pirate show producer Jack Jay, who is writing the script with Scottish comedian Johnny Mac, said: “It’s the first time we are putting on our own Easter show as part of our plan to extend the season, not only for us but the whole resort.

“To give us inspiration for the script we have been able to come down here and look at the ship taking shape.”

A colourful cast of actors, acrobats and aerialists will perform on the galleon which will be decked out with water cannons; The Hippodrome’s water feature will be in use throughout the show.

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