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Students transform iconic town centre building

25th November 2015

Students from Barking & Dagenham College?s Technical Skills Academy are helping transform two empty shop units on East Street into a temporary pop-up restaurant and cinema venue.

Multi-skilled construction trainees from the College's Technical Skills Academy

Based in the historic former Barking Magistrates Court, ‘The Barking Food Court’ aims to bring a new and alternative offer to the high street over the Christmas period.

Students specialising in multi-skills construction are currently decorating the two former courthouse rooms and building furniture for the project, which is scheduled to open on Thursday 26 November.

During its residency in the Grade II listed building, the project will feature the Magistrates Court Menu, delivered by various local restaurants from across the borough at lunchtimes and evenings. The food court will also host a programme of themed talks and debates, as well as an indoor cinema showing films and television programmes shot in the borough.

The project is being delivered by Carolina Caicedo from creative practice The Decorators and artist Verity-Jane Keefe, who said:

"The aim of the Barking Food Court is to celebrate this important building in terms of both its history and its future role at the heart of the high street.

The effort and enthusiasm shown by the Technical Skills Academy students for this project has been fantastic. We’ve also worked with students from the Broadway Theatre and we can’t wait for them all to show off their hard work once Barking Food Court is open to the public."

To come, a pop-up restaurant run by trainee chefs

Hilary Moore, Head of the Technical Skills Academy, said:

“It has been great to see this project begin and the excellent opportunity for real work experience for the 16-18 year old multi-skills construction students from the Technical Skills Academy realised.

"They have enthusiastically grasped the chance to show off their plastering, painting, decorating and carpentry skills. The Academy’s involvement will continue, as our catering students begin work with the pop-up restaurant.”

City Hall's High Street Fund

The Barking Food Court has been commissioned by the Council using funding awarded by the Mayor of London’s High Street Fund. It forms part of a wider £1.4m high street improvement programme across East Street and Barking Market.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration Councillor Cameron Geddes said:

"I would like to thank the owners of the courthouse who have granted the Council temporary use of this magnificent building. The Barking Food Court will offer something new and different to our high street for both local residents and visitors to enjoy, and will showcase the opportunity for the former courthouse to once again become an important civic hub in the town centre."

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