Comedy genius Eric Morecambe has been bringing sunshine to visitors at the Technology Centre at Catcliffe’s Advanced Manufacturing Park.
A larger than life bronze of one half of the legendary Eric and Ernie duo has been gracing the foyer.
Eric’s statue had stood on the pier of his home town for 15 years until it was vandalised last autumn and its creator, Barnsley’s professional sculptor Graham Ibbeson, had to rebuild Eric fast.
“The vandal had sawn into the one leg on which the entire weight of the statue rested. It was ready to topple at any moment so we had to cut him off at the boot top and cart him away,” says Brian. “Bizarrely, Eric’s lone boot became a visitor’s attraction in itself.”
Graham, who has carved out over 30 public statues and an international reputation from his town centre studio, took a prostrate Eric to his fine art foundry in London’s East End to have the leg’s reinforced steel inner sections re-made.
But Eric has not only been rebuilt, he’s been cloned... Thanks to engineering technology experts at Catcliffe’s Advanced Manufacturing Park.
Performance engineering solutions bosses Dan Fleetcroft and Mike Maddock had contacted Graham to offer their services on hearing of Eric’s demise. Their pioneering engineering design solutions business is currently helping rebuild everything from classic cars to jet engines.
In the end, they weren’t needed to rebuild Eric - but their skills were called on to help with plans to build an Eric and Ernie memorial further down the pier at Morecambe.
PES used their reverse-engineering techniques to craft exact mini replicas of Graham’s artwork - which will now be cast in bronze and sold as limited edition pieces to raise money for the Eric and Ern memorial.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for us. Eric Morecambe is a comedy legend we grew up laughing along with. We scanned the statue with our £200,000 blue light 3D optical scanning system, which enables us to copy anything without plans or CAD drawings. It is a cloning machine, really. We could have recreated him as small as an aspirin or as big as a supertanker if Graham had wanted.”
PES’s scanning technology captures highly accurate data, using light or laser sources. The data is then downloaded into CAD software from which exact 3D models and manufacturing drawings can be produced.
Where internal detail is crucial and not accessible through disassembling of the part the company use a CT scanning process similar to that used in hospitals.
“People think we only build racing cars but the scope for what we do is vast,” says Mike. “We have just won a job with the aerospace sector and are working with three other sculptors. We are also in talks with makers of prosthetic limbs and movie props companies.
PES are the brains who have worked out how to recreate a giant version of Sheffield artist Steve Mehdi’s Man of Steel statue, which could next year be a major tourist attraction gracing a hill overlooking Meadowhall.