Cat no. 310

Island Site

Running time~26:23 Colour Sound 1962 Norwich, Norfolk

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The construction of new Norwich Union offices.



This film opens with scenes from the 150th anniversary conference of the Norwich Union on the 19th June, 1958, with Sir Robert Bignold laying the foundation stone for the new Island Site. Also in these pictures are Mr. Philip Bennett, representing the architects and Mr. Draper, the estates manager. Static shots of the scale models illustrate the projected finished product. There are aerial shots of All Saints Green before its redevelopment. Throughout, there are scenes of the Norwich Streets, including as they looked before demolition for the Island Site.

The longest section of the film is devoted to the construction of stage A, the curved building to the south that was to be the new offices of the Life Department. Beginning in December 1958, there are shots of the demolition of Georgian and Regency buildings on All Saints Green. The contract was won by local builders R.G. Carters Ltd, and they are featured being awarded the contract. This sequence includes shots of Mr. Bob Carter and the foreman, Stanley Daynes.The construction of the new building is shown in detail. One of these techniques explained is pumping liquid cement by compressed air. The equipment for this cost £4,000.

There are shots showing the building progress in February and March of 1959 and of the arrival of the 120 ft crane on the 6th April, 1959. Ground level shots show the covered walkway that was constructed to protect passing pedestrians. In June, 1959, Sir Robert Bignold met Sir Thomas Bennett and Philip Bennett to select a wall covering. He chose hand-made bricks made by Tuckers of Loughborough. In August, 1959 shots were taken of the shell of the building. At this stage sixty men were working over eighty hours a week to complete the project.

George Carter is in his bosun's chair so that he can survey the operation at all levels. On the 6th November, 1959, when building work reaches roof level, it is used by Sir Robert Bignold to inspect progress. The crane operator, Mr. Ellis, is featured operating the remote control with caution. Mr. Robert Ulph, clerk of the works looks on. Later travellers included Norwich Union director Lord Townshend who on January 1st, 1960, ascending for the roof wetting ceremony, whereby a barrel of beer was poured over the roof. There was a party for staff and workers in the shell of the building following this.

Internally floors are fitted and the building is decorated and fitted out. On the 7th November, 1960, the staff of the Fire Office were able to move into their new offices. In March, 1961, Sir Robert and Lady Bignold, accompanied by the Life Society General Manager, Mr. Robarts, the Assistant General Manager, Mr. Howard and the Publicity Officer Mr. Cooper, played host to the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Mr. Nichols and the Sheriff, Mr. Warminger and their wives, holding a ceremony in the observation room. There are views taken from this room, including the Regency building.

Buildings are about to be demolished for stage B. A shortened version of the building of stage B is shown, including the demolition of the former buildings of the Norwich Waterworks Company in Surrey Street on 27th February, 1962. These had been purchased also by the Norwich Union several years before. This sequence also shows the demolition of the Life Society Canteen and stills showing its interior. There are interior shots of the building, showing the stairs, the lifts and the document conveyor system. The oil paintings by Tom Griffith in the observation room are also featured. The Fire Department staff move in in April, 1962.

The final sequence of the film shows the official opening of the new building on 21 May, 1962. Present at the ceremony were the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Mr. Gurney and the Sheriff, Alderman Cutbush, three of the four surviving members of the Fire Department Staff from 1902 were present; Mr. George Edwards, who was 90, Mr. Fred Thwaits and Mr. W.W. Williamson who became a Director and the General Manager of the Fire Society. Sir Robert is shown making a speech and unveiling a plaque. Mr. Misselbrook leads the tour of the building. The final shots are general views of the completed buildings.

Featured People:

Sir Robert Bignold; Lady Bignold; Mr. Draper, the estates manager; Mr. Robert Ulph, clerk of the works; employees of Norwich; Mr. Robarts, the Life Society General Manager Union; Mr. Howard, the assistant general manager; Mr. Cooper, the Publicity Officer; Mr. Misselbrook; Mr. George Edwards; three of the four surviving members of the Fire Mr. Fred Thwaits, Department Staff from 1902; Mr. W.W. Williamson; Lord Townshend, Norwich Union Director; Sir Thomas Bennett; Mr. Philip Bennett representing the architects; Mr. Bob Carter, builder; George Carter, builder; Stanley Daynes, foreman; Employees of R & G Carter Ltd Mr. Ellis, the crane operator; Mr. Nichols; Lord Mayors of Norwich; Mr. Gurney; Mr. Warminger; Sheriffs of Norwich; Alderman Cutbush; Tom Griffith, artist; Mrs. Nichols; Mrs. Warminger

Featured Organisations:

The Norwich Union Insurance Societies; R.G. Carters Ltd, builders ; Tuckers of Loughborough, brickmakers.Island Site.

Featured Events:

150th anniversary conference of the Norwich Union ; The ceremony opening the new Head Offices of the Norwich Union Insurance Societies

Featured Buildings:

Norwich Union Insurance Societies Head Office; the Island Site; Bonds; The Gaumont Cinema

Norwich Union Insurance Societies

Publicity Department of Norwich Union Insurance Societies

R.R. Prior

A.P Cooper

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