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How did the fabrication process work?


Ian McChesney: We sent it to a few people to get estimates.

Mtech, the company we chose, does lots of stainless-steel work for seaside resorts. They made the stainless-steel lampposts lining the promenade, so Blackpool already had a relationship with them. Mtech has a programme, ME10, which spits out a 3D view and calculates sheet-rolling patterns.

It can create that piece of sheet metal and unwrap it. The laser cutting is incredible to watch.

I remember standing in the factory and thinking 'there's nowhere else I'd rather be'.

Aran Chadwick: Once the shapes are cut, they feed it through three rollers - the position of the three rollers in relation to each other establishes the radii.

Then the final tweaking is done with clamps. We put up a fullscale mock-up in Mtech's workshop in Darwen. The base was reused for the real thing, so there wasn't much wastage. We used a bright yellow simplified fabrication for the vane. The shape was the important thing.

Ian McChesney: The base plate had to be divided into sections for the galvanising.

How was the structure transported to site?

Ian McChesney: I don't know.

The installation all happened directly between Blackpool and Mtech. We had been talking about it for five years, and then in February a councillor suddenly banged his first on the table and said that he wanted them in by Easter. So, it all happened very quickly in the end. Someone sent me an email telling me that it was up.

What happens next?

Aran Chadwick: Originally, they planned to put three up. The second one is about to go up.

Ian McChesney: We're contracted for there to be three. So, if they build three, we don't get any extra money, but if they build a fourth we start getting royalties.

Theoretically, they could go up anywhere, so long as there is some wind. But, they have become so associated with Blackpool that I can't really imagine anywhere else would want one. But, it would be great to see hundreds of them going up along the coast of Dubai.

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