Work under way to rebuild City Gates Christian Centre three years after entire building collapses
PUBLISHED: 12:35 22 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:42 22 January 2015
Three years ago, Ilford town centre was shocked by the dramatic sudden collapse of the newly-built City Gates Christian Centre - just 45 minutes after workmen left the site for the day.
In what has since been described as a “miracle”, not one person was injured as the five-storey building in Clements Road, Ilford, came crashing to the ground.
Now work is under way to complete the multi-million pound centre, which church pastor, the Rev Stephen Derbyshire, said will hold a special meaning after the events of January 31,
“I was down in Bracknell at a conference,” said Rev Derbyshire, looking back on the day.
“I got a phone call saying that the building was collapsing.
“There were around 20 brickies working there, they had decided it was a bit dark and clocked off at 3.30pm.
“It happened at 4.15pm and the building collapsed within seconds.
“There were seven cars written off in the car park. Not one person was injured.
“We believe that’s a miracle.”
Rev Derbyshire said the replacement structure would have an extra 60 tonnes of steel – shipped over from Northern Ireland – to reinforce it.
While work on the frame started last week, the building is not expected to be completed until next January.
“All of it has had to be redesigned, so this would never, ever happen again,” said Rev Derbyshire. “It will be a real asset to the community – we have got to make this work.”
The centre will have a 1,000-seat auditorium and conference facilities, with the church initially raising £7.5million through 10 years of hard work.
Rev Derbyshire said the congregation had been doing further fundraising while waiting for insurance claims to come through.
“The further I’ve come away from this and thought about it, the more I just thank God,” he said.
“It could have been catastrophic. People could have died.
“We spent a lot of time praying about the building, about the safety of the workmen.
“Nobody would have stood a chance. Nobody could have.
“If there had been anyone killed I don’t think I would have been able to build it again.”