Go behind the scenes of Redbridge’s buildings this weekend for Open House

Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy

Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy - Credit: Archant

Ever wondered how the train tunnels deep under London were created? You could go behind the scenes and find out when the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy opens its doors for the first time.

Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy

Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy - Credit: Archant

The academy is taking part in Open House 2013 this weekend where buildings of are opened up to the wider public.

The academy trains apprentices to work on more than 42km of new tunnels which, Crossrail says, is the largest construction project in Europe.

Gareth Jones, manager of the academy, said: “Visitors will have an opportunity to see a unique training facility purpose-built to support the tunnelling and underground construction industry.”

Over the weekend the academy, in Lugg Approach, Ilford, will be open from 10am-4pm with hourly talks from architects from 10.30am.

Mr Jones added: “A tour will include the specialist workshops, that will involve walking through a 40 metre tunnel mock-up complete with rail tracks and locomotives and a sprayed concrete lining workshop with its robotic equipment and mandrels on static display.”

The building was designed by Capita Symonds and RPS in 2009 and about 3,500 people are expected to be trained there during the Crossrail project.

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It cost £15million, with a third coming from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

So far about 1,500 people have been trained by the academy, which was established to meet a demand for people with specialist skills in tunnelling and underground construction.

Each Crossrail boring machine is like a miniature underground factory weighing a thousand tonnes and measuring 150 metres in length.

Developers hope the first service will start in late 2018, with nine new stations.

Bancroft’s School

Address: High Road, Woodford Green

Open: Sat 10am-2.30pm

Architect: Sir Arthur Blomfield

Built: 1889

The school was originally founded in 1737 in Mile End but moved to Woodford Green for a more rural setting. Worth looking at are the chapel, the Great Hall, which had a sloping floor as it was mainly used as a cinema, and the view of east London from the top of the tower. Sir Arthur Blomfield also designed Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Gants Hill Art

Address: Cranbrook Road, Gants Hill

Open: Sat tours at 11am and noon

Architect: Cookson and McNally

Built: 2004

The two metre steel column has shelves full of children’s sculptures which were cast in steel or bronze.

It was created in conjunction with pupils from Gearies Infant School, Waremead Road, Gants Hill. Tours will be led by headteacher Bob Drew, who raised half the money for the sculpture himself, and will last an hour.

Ilford Hospital Chapel

Address: Ilford Hill, Ilford

Open: Sat 10am-4pm/Sun 1-5pm

Architect: Various

Built: Mainly 1300s

The Hospital Chapel was founded in 1145 by the Abbess of Barking as a hospice for old and infirm men. It is a Grade II listed building with sections dating back to the 12th century. Worth a look is the monument to John Smith, the master of the hospital, who died in 1475.

Redbridge Central Library

Address: Clements Road, Ilford

Open: Sat 9am-4pm, tours on the hour

Architect: DJ Restick and T Lawson/ inside by Opening the Book

Built: 1986/ interior refurbished in 2012

The £1million refurbishment was completed last year with a completely redesigned interior with large open spaces and lots of new technology. The library was shortlisted for The Bookseller Industry Award for best library earlier this year and has welcomed 15 million people since it opened in 1986.

Mazarin House

Address: Glengall Road, Woodford Green

Open: Sun 10am-5pm, hourly tours

Architect: Arboreal Architecture

Built: 2013

Anyone interested in environmentally friendly design should go along to this sustainable block of six flats.

The site has an exposed solid timber structure and solar panels. The extensive use of timber means the flats are very warm and require minimal heating. They are due to be completed next month.

Sukkat Shalom

Address: Victory Road, Wanstead

Open: Sun 10am-5pm

Architect: Somers Clarke

Built: 1863

The synagogue was originally the chapel for a merchant seamen orphanage.

It was bought by the synagogue in 1995 and was restored with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It has ornate stained glass windows and the ceiling is modelled on the inside of a boat hull.

Valentines Mansion

Address: Emerson Road, Ilford

Open: Sun 11am-5pm

Architect: Unknown

Built: 1696

The Grade II listed building was used as a home until the early 1900s and was extensively refurbished in 2009 when it was opened up to the public.

Inside are a Victorian kitchen, pantry, interactive rooms and an artists’ studio. Look out for the house’s finest features, which are the main staircase and the Venetian window.

Woodford County High School

Address: High Road, Woodford Green

Open: Sun 1-5pm

Architect: William Newton

Built: 1768

Formerly Highams Manor, this elegant Georgian manor house was built for the Warner family. During the First World War, the house was converted into a military hospital and in 1919 was rented from the Warner family to become a school for girls by Essex County Council.

The council bought the house outright in 1929.