Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s workmen dangling from one of Lowestoft’s most familiar landmarks

LOFTY TASK: An engineer carries out maintenance work on one of Gulliver's blades. Below/Right/Left, the workman and his colleagues have been cleaning the blades and repairing damage caused by a lightning strike. LOFTY TASK: An engineer carries out maintenance work on one of Gulliver's blades. Below/Right/Left, the workman and his colleagues have been cleaning the blades and repairing damage caused by a lightning strike.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
9:03 AM

They say lightning never strikes twice.

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man working up on one of the blades of Gulliver 
Picture by John Welchman working up on one of the blades of Gulliver Picture by John Welch

But that does not, it seems, apply to one of Lowestoft’s most familiar landmarks.

After being struck by lightning seven years ago, the wind turbine Gulliver has been hit for a second time.

Evidence of the latest strike was discovered while engineers carried out routine maintenance to the turbine’s blades.

The workmen could be seen dangling on ropes attached to the structure’s hub 262ft up as they scrubbed the blades and repaired pits caused by weather damage.

man working up on one of the blades of Gulliver 
Picture by John Welchman working up on one of the blades of Gulliver Picture by John Welch

During the work, which has been carried out by contractors on behalf of Gulliver’s owners Triodos Renewables, it was found that one blade had been struck by lightning.

Although no major damage was caused, it took two days to replace its damaged fibre covering.

It is not known when the lightning strike happened but Triodos confirmed that it was the second time the turbine had been hit since it was built in 2005.

Adrian Warman, operations, manager at Bristol-based Triodos Renewables, said: “It was hit by lightning before; if I remember correctly, it was in 2007.

“This time the lightning damaged layers of fibre that cover the blades. The workmen peeled back the fibres to replace them and it took a couple of days to repair them.

“I suppose the blades are a high point in the town and, as a result, they are prone to lightning strikes.”

The blade maintenance is a resumption of work that took place in October to repair a mechanical fault, which put Gulliver out of action in August last year.

Mr Warman said: “It is all about cleaning the blades and improving their performance. The work is due to finish next week and has involved specialists.

“I think they are doing a tremendous job. It is not everyone’s cup of tea to work at that height.”

These photographs, showing an engineer working on the turbine blade, were taken by keen photographer John Welch, 51, of Kirkley Run, while he was walking near the Bird’s Eye factory.

Admiring their skills and nerve, he said: “Who would want to do a job like that?”

Gulliver was built in Lowestoft by SLP and named after a competition run by The Journal. It stands 413ft from its base to the tip of its highest blade.

Triodos Renewables claims that when fully operational, the turbine can produce enough electricity to power up to 1,800 homes a year.

Triodos Renewables also owns the two turbines at Kessingland and Gisleham.

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