What's so special about this place?
This iconic listed building is one of the few remaining Victorian structures on Bangor seafront. Built in 1866, as a branch of the Belfast Banking Company, and private residence for the bank manager’s family, this Italianate building catered for the expanding population of Bangor after the arrival of the railway, when it boomed as an attractive seaside town. The bank became a Court of Petty Sessions in 1952. During 'the Troubles', the building was heavily fortified, and retains many security features, including bullet-proof glass, imposing steel gates to the rear and a chain link wire fence.
Why is the building under threat?
The building has been empty since its decommissioning by the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service in 2013 and is in urgent need of repair.
How was it saved?
Open House Festival,a music and arts charity which runs a month-long festival in Bangor each August, is in the process of acquiring the building from the Department of Justice, through a nil value ‘Community Asset Transfer’ (CAT). If it goes ahead, this will be the first full transfer of a building at nil cost in Northern Irelandsince the launch of the CAT scheme by theDepartment for Communities in 2014. The charity wants to transform the Court House into a thriving arts and entertainment hub at the heart of a new ‘creative Bangor’. It will enable the charity to programme regular music, film, theatre, comedy and other trademark hand-crafted events all year-round.
How is the building used now?
The building remains empty while the Open House Festival is in the process of completing the community asset transfer process and raising funds for repair and conversion costs.
How did the AHF help?
A Project Development Grant of £13,750 is contributing towards professional team and staffing costs as Open House Festival prepares its Round 2 Heritage Lottery Fund bid under the Heritage Enterprise grant programme. The project received a Round 1 pass at the second attempt in March 2018, with funding of £452,700 earmarked for the project.
Project: Bangor Courthouse
Client: Open House Festival
Category B listed building
New use: Arts venue
Find out more at: www.openhousefestival.com
Other Funding Sources
Heritage Lottery Fund £28,000
Ulster Garden Villages £5,000