Thrill seekers hurling themselves down hill in spheres made by Cromer firm

One of the Structure-flex spheres in use. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX

One of the Structure-flex spheres in use. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX - Credit: Archant

Daredevils are hurling themselves downhill at 30mph inside giant inflatable spheres painstakingly created by a specialist Norfolk firm.

One of the Structure-flex spheres waiting to leave the Cromer factory. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX

One of the Structure-flex spheres waiting to leave the Cromer factory. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX - Credit: Archant

Cromer-based Structure-flex has made three 12-foot spheres for gift experience company SphereMania, which offers people the chance to roll downhill, at an adventure centre in Nottingham, inside a transparent globe; an extreme sport sometimes called 'zorbing.'

One of the Structure-flex spheres in use. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX

One of the Structure-flex spheres in use. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX - Credit: Archant

Making the spheres is a skilled and time-consuming process. Each takes:

One of the Structure-flex spheres waiting to leave the Cromer factory. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX

One of the Structure-flex spheres waiting to leave the Cromer factory. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX - Credit: Archant

? more than 120 hours

One of the Structure-flex spheres during the manufacturing process. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX

One of the Structure-flex spheres during the manufacturing process. Picture: STRUCTURE-FLEX - Credit: Archant

? 67 metres of fabric

? 500 webbings

? 1,000 rivets

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? 2,000 washers

? 12 panels of tough 2mm-thick transparent material welded together.

Paul Reeve, managing director of Structure-flex, said a second, smaller, inner sphere, accessed through a tunnel connected to the outer sphere, was where the thrill-seeker was suspended by a harness and cushioned from the ground by about three feet of air.

A complex network of webbing straps in the air gap provided stability.

He added: 'I haven't tried it myself but it certainly looks like it's not something for the faint-hearted!'

Structure-flex, which employs 76 people at its Holt Road factory, has made heavy-duty flexible fabric products for 45 years and won a Queen's Award for International Enterprise in 2013 for increasing its export sales by more than 250pc over the previous three years.