Video and photo gallery: Norwich’s newest landmark is toppled to the ground

The finished People's Tower topples over next to St Peter Mancroft Church. Picture: Denise Bradley The finished People's Tower topples over next to St Peter Mancroft Church. Picture: Denise Bradley

Sunday, May 11, 2014
12:23 AM

What goes up must come down - an army of volunteers spent today creating Norwich’s newest landmark outside the Forum before it was spectacularly toppled to the ground.

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The finished People's Tower stands next to St Peter Mancroft Church, ready to be toppled over. Picture: Denise BradleyThe finished People's Tower stands next to St Peter Mancroft Church, ready to be toppled over. Picture: Denise Bradley

About 1,000 boxes and eight miles of tape were used to make the 20-metre high cardboard replica of St Peter Mancroft Church - and everyone was invited to join in the fun.

Called The People’s Tower, the project was the first of the free outdoor events for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

For about eight hours people of all ages worked to create the monument, and hundreds gathered to watch the grand finale when the giant tower was pulled to the ground and everyone rushed to jump up and down on the collapsed cardboard creation which aimed to inspire people of all ages to discover their inner child.

“Here today, gone tomorrow, the best art is here in the moment” said Norfolk and Norwich Festival director William Galinsky.

The People's Tower is crushed under hundreds of feet after it was toppled over. Picture: Denise BradleyThe People's Tower is crushed under hundreds of feet after it was toppled over. Picture: Denise Bradley

“It’s all about shared experiences. It’s all about people who were here remembering it for a long time to come.

“They will say to their grandchildren, ‘I remember when we built a cardboard replica of that church,’ and that is what it is all about.”

He said it was a great start to the festival, and prior to the toppling over ceremony joked that the finished masterpiece was so good that it should be given a listed status.

“It’s completely brilliant. We have had a lovely day, all days should be like this, and the National Trust or English Heritage should take on the People’s Tower because it is such a masterpiece - it would be great with a garden all around it all made out of cardboard!

NNF14 - The People's Tower takes shape outside the Forum in Norwich.NNF14 - The People's Tower takes shape outside the Forum in Norwich.

“It’s a really good started to the festival, something different this year. We have had big shows to start the festival in previous years and we wanted to shake it up a bit this year and keep people guessing.

“It has been great fun and I hope people have enjoyed it as much as we have enjoyed working on it.”

Building got under way at 10am this morning with work on the cardboard spire, and in good old fashioned British spirit the enthusiastic volunteers refused to let the rain get in the way of the construction process.

Luckily sunshine followed the morning rain, and by lunchtime the four pinnacles surrounding the spire were also in place as crowds of people of all ages gathered to take part in the project.

The start of building of the People's Tower, a cardboard recreation of St Peter Mancroft Church, as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2014. Picture: Denise BradleyThe start of building of the People's Tower, a cardboard recreation of St Peter Mancroft Church, as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2014. Picture: Denise Bradley

The cardboard church rose in height throughout the day in the shadow of its centuries old namesake, with claps and cheers each time a layer was completed and the tower was lifted up by volunteers to the next level.

Among those taking part was Andy Bodycombe, who lives in the south of Norwich, and his children Emma, one, and Louis, three.

“We were building boxes and helping to lift the tower. Louis also drew a picture of Emma on one of the boxes.

“I just love getting involved in the festival every year.”

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2014 artistic director, William Gallinsky, at the start of building of the People's Tower, a cardboard recreation of St Peter Mancroft Church. Picture: Denise BradleyNorfolk & Norwich Festival 2014 artistic director, William Gallinsky, at the start of building of the People's Tower, a cardboard recreation of St Peter Mancroft Church. Picture: Denise Bradley

Jacqui and Phill Gray, from Wymondham, also took part in The People’s Tower with their children Amelia, 10, and Thomas, eight.

Mrs Gray said: “The best thing is that it is bringing the community together. It is a fantastic idea and it just seemed like everybody wants to join in.”

Sarah MacLeay, from Hethersett, her husband Murdo and children Anna, five, and Alex, four also worked on the tower.

Mrs MacLeay said: “It was brilliant. It’s just so terrific to see something so ordinary like cardboard boxes being turned into a giant art project.

Students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder helping to construct the cardboard building blocks of The People's Tower. Photo: Steve AdamsStudents with Autistic Spectrum Disorder helping to construct the cardboard building blocks of The People's Tower. Photo: Steve Adams

“We really enjoyed last year’s festival and are looking forward to this year’s events. It makes coming into the city a lovely event.”

The cardboard creation has been designed by French artist Olivier Grossetête who has created similar towers in other parts of Europe.

Christophe Goddet, the head builder who was overseeing the construction, said the idea of the project is to help people discover their “inner child” and likened it to a child making a sand castle at the beach and then jumping on it.

The bells at St Peter Mancroft Church rang to announce the start of the construction process this morning and rang again this evening just before the cardboard church was pulled down.

More than 200 people were involved in creating the building blocks at the Forum all this week.

Age UK, Open Academy, Culture Works East, Fairstead Primary School and the RUGroom from City College Norwich are among the groups that have taken part.

The People’s Tower is part of the festival’s programme of free outdoor performances that are sponsored by Lafarge Tarmac.

• The festival runs until Sunday, May 25. For more about the festival visit www.nnfestival.org.uk

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