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Video: Documentary charting the changing face of Norwich's Westlegate Tower

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 December 2014

Photographer and film-maker Chris Skipworth charted the revamp of Westlegate Tower from October 2013 to October 2014.
One of Mr Skipworth's photographs of Westlegate Tower.

Photographer and film-maker Chris Skipworth charted the revamp of Westlegate Tower from October 2013 to October 2014. One of Mr Skipworth's photographs of Westlegate Tower.

Archant

The transformation of what was once one of the city's worst eyesores has intrigued any shoppers over the last two years.

Documentary photographer Chris Skipworth, who photographed the changing urban landscape in the NR3 area, at his first solo exhibition at the Norfolk Record Office, pictured with Susan Maddock. Photo: Steve AdamsDocumentary photographer Chris Skipworth, who photographed the changing urban landscape in the NR3 area, at his first solo exhibition at the Norfolk Record Office, pictured with Susan Maddock. Photo: Steve Adams

And now people are being given the chance to enjoy behind the scenes video footage of the £8m revamp of Westlegate Tower.

The Changing Face of Norwich features footage of the stunning views from the penthouse, how a 250-tonne crane was used to lift a five-tonne crane into the tight site, and a time-lapse video of eight workmen removing the scaffolding and cleaning windows as the new shell of the tower was finally revealed.

The documentary is the work of film-maker and photographer Chris Skipworth, who was inspired by the similar films of Charles Scott, who charted the building of the inner link road on Grapes Hill, the Anglia Square Redevelopment and the removal of Dukes Palace Bridge, to allow for a wider bridge, in the 1970s.

Mr Skipworth, 47, from Sprowston, held his first solo photographic exhibition at Norfolk Record Office in 2012, which featured the construction of the new Gyratory Scheme near Anglia Square in 2010.

The films

Seven short films will be shown on the launch night on Monday:

1) A film about Mr Skipworth’s 2012 exhibition at Norfolk Record Office and the similarities between his work and that of Charles Scott in the 1970s.

2) Block and beam - a look at the installation of the flooring system and foundations of the retail space of Westlegate Tower.

3) Pump and cement - A look at the machinery, including an M20-4 Putzmeister City Pump, and techniques used to pump and spread concrete on the first floor of the building.

4) Interior shots of Westlegate Tower and the work in progress.

5) Footage of a 250-tonne mobile crane performing a “blind lift” of a Mantis five-tonne crane, featuring commentary from one of the crane operators.

6) A short film of a JCB lifting and moving cement into Lion and Castle Yard.

7) Footage of views and interior of the finished penthouse.

Following the exhibition, the East Anglian Film Archive showed him Charles Scott’s film entitled ‘The Changing Face of Norwich’, as it was similar to his own interests.

He said: “As I watched the film several times it became more and more apparent that there was close connection between our work, not only were both approaches documenting the changing landscape in Norwich, we were both being drawn to the construction work, equipment, labour, techniques of the time, materials and resulting infrastructure. This interaction that we have with our landscape is something I have become intrigued by and has become the foundation of my work.”

Mr Skipworth began making his own film entitled ‘The Changing Face of Norwich’, some 40 years later in response to Mr Scott’s footage.

He filmed the refurbishment and construction work at Westlegate Tower, which is about to welcome a cycle shop into its ground floor, from October 2013 to October 2014 as he was intrigued by this particular construction work being carried out in the heart of the city.

He said: “The films show the massive difference in health and safety standards between then and now. They didn’t wear high vis and only some had construction hats on.

“The equipment they have now is so much better and many of the materials, machinery and techniques are different.”

The films will be shown at The Curve auditorium at The Forum from 7pm to 9pm on Monday, December 8.

The event is free, but those wishing to attend are asked to email bbcvoices@bbc.co.uk for a place.

The finished films will be available for the public to see at the Fusion screen at the Forum from January 11 to January 31 and Mr Skipworth also hopes to make them available on his website in January.

Do you have a story about an unusual art project? Call reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772474 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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