The MediaCityUK development may be the biggest thing to happen to the North-West for years. It is set to establish the region as a media production and broadcast powerhouse and bring thousands of industry related jobs to the area. Now, as it hurtles towards its completion in late 2011, the sheer scale of it is beginning to take shape.
But one man has chronicled the massive project since its inception. IT Manager and former Bolton student, Mark Whitfield has detailed the building of the project with literally thousands of photographs - at last count about 15,000. He has also set up an active and up-to-date group on a social network forum on LinkedIn.
Mark lives in Bolton but worked in the Salford Quays area, where MediaCityUK is being built, for 15 years. In that time he has seen it change radically, from a sparse, industrial space to bustling urban centre. Iconic landmarks, shopping centres and apartments have all sprung up around the Quay, but Mark feels their completion passed him by: 'The Lowry Outlet Mall, The Lowry Centre, The NV Flats and The Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) have all just appeared, it seems. Despite the time and effort taken to construct some of these iconic quays structures, I only noticed them once they were complete and I started to visit them. Time to put things right I thought...'
It is from that simple thought that the most comprehensive catalogue of MediaCityUK began. Despite the impressive and exhaustive nature of the project, it was never meant to be an official timeline: 'It was going to be an intimate, workman level account of the build that might prove useful and fascinating some years after the development had been completed,' added Mark.
As well as simply taking pictures of the site, Mark has set up a discussion group and timeline. This means he also as developed an in-depth knowledge of the project and what it could mean for industry-related jobs and links to local businesses and education. 'I am aware of the University of Bolton's interests in this area and gaming initiatives which also feature highly on the MediaCityUK portfolio of companies resident. As a former student of Bolton Institute of Higher Education, I would be the first to welcome MediaCityUK academic initiatives with Bolton media faculties.'
Mark collects most of his information and photographs during his lunch breaks while at work. In all, it has taken him approximately 260 man hours, over three-and-a-half years to collate and construct the timeline. It's a dedication than has not gone unnoticed. He has been specially invited on site many times, mentioned in the blog of BBC North on numerous occasions and had his work published in the Manchester Evening News.
And what does Mark think of his work? 'It's an electronic feat to parallel the actual MediaCityUK build itself' he said.
To see the extensive catalogue for yourself, follow this link http://www.mediacityuksalfordquays.net/mcuk.htm|