It’s soap on a rope for NUCA building in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 13:06 01 April 2011

An abseiler cleans the windows ledges at NUCA, Norwich.
Photo: Andy Darnell

An abseiler cleans the windows ledges at NUCA, Norwich. Photo: Andy Darnell

Archant © 2011

The alarming sight of fluorescent orange abseilers dangling off the 165-year-old St George’s building has entertained many passers-by this week.

Abseiler Nick Palmer cleans the windows at NUCA, Norwich. 
Photo: Andy Darnell

The historic St George’s building, which is part of the Norwich University of the Arts Campus on St George’s Street, is in fact being cleaned and maintained by abseilers from AID Rope Access. The building looks directly over the river Wensum and the position of the façade facing the river has meant it has long been neglected and was in desperate need of maintenance.

Student Verity Holden-Oates, 21, of Leicester Street in the Golden Triangle, said: “I was shocked to see them there and curious as to what they were doing. I imagined they must have been installing an art work to the side of the building.”

The university says the abseilers’ presence is a “21st-century solution to a Victorian problem: the need for the cleaning and maintenance of some of Norwich’s most beautiful and historic buildings”.

The innovative cleaning technique has the benefit of being much cheaper and quicker than erecting scaffolding to gain access to the wall, as well as having the added benefit of entertaining pedestrians on the busy adjoining thoroughfare.

The abseilers have been hanging from ropes attached to the roof of the 70ft building since Monday, cleaning the windows as they travel down towards the safety boat in the river below.

Jonathan Batchelor, commercial director of the Norfolk-based company AID Rope Access, said: “Rope access is fast becoming known as a more efficient and environmentally friendly form of access. It has been a pleasure to be able to showcase these methods on such a historically important building in the city.”

The work cleaning the façade of the Victorian building is expected to take two weeks, during which time the fluorescent men will be a part of the Norwich sky-line.

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