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One Year On: Building to start in next ‘few months’ on Ilford Christian centre following collapse

 The collapsed City Gates Christian centre Clements Road, Ilford The collapsed City Gates Christian centre Clements Road, Ilford

Thursday, January 31, 2013
10:19 AM

With work set to restart in the next “few months” on a five-storey Christian centre – which came crashing to the ground in Ilford Town Centre a year ago today – the church’s pastor has spoken about the difficult year that followed the collapse.

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City Gates collapse timeline

January 25, 2012

Topping out ceremony held at the new City Gates building.

January 31

4pm: Workers leave site early due to “poor light”.

4.30pm: City Gates Christian centre building collapses, leaving debris strewn across Clements Road. Rescue crews are called and thermal imaging equipment and search dogs are used to scour the site. Fifteen bus routes are diverted as police cordon off the road.

9.30pm: No people found and the site is given the all-clear.

February 1

Health and Safety Executive begins investigation. Reports of an object falling from a crane are dismissed.

February 2

Clements Lane, Chadwick Road, Handforth Way and Winston Way remain closed as Ashe Construction begin to dismantle the steel frame.

February 3

Fire breaks out after workmen attempt to cut away the remaining steel structure.

February 4&5

Steel frame taken to a warehouse in Derbyshire to be examined by investigators.

The Royal Mail Ilford office, which was forced to close, resumes deliveries to Redbridge postcodes.

February 6

Road reopens apart from a small section of Clements Road and Handforth Road.

The £7.5million City Gates Christian Centre in Clements Road has been deemed “an amazing miracle” by the Rev Stephen Derbyshire, after workers left the site early because of “poor light”.

The centre, which should have been completed in November last year, is expected to take just over 12 months to complete once work starts.

Mr Derbyshire said: “I found out today [Monday] that the settlement has been completed and all we need to do is agree to the terms, so work should be able to commence in the spring.

“This year has been a very strange and difficult one, the church has had to rearrange everything, including holding services in Cineworld.

“It hasn’t been easy but we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The building, which is set to include a 1,000-seat auditorium and conference facilities, was entirely funded by the church after 10 years of hard work.

Insurance payouts will cover the full cost of the rebuild.

Mr Derbyshire said: “The church is just so pleased there were no fatalities and we believe it was an amazing miracle.

“Twenty-three workers clocked off early that day, for the first time ever because of poor light. If they hadn’t there would have been no question that they would have been killed.

“We think God saw something wrong with the building and brought it down gently.”

The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed the investigation is still “ongoing” and could not confirm the cause or how long the process will take.

Mr Derbyshire added: “All I want is for construction to start and for the people who worked hard to fundraise to see the centre come together.”

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