New grants for buildings at risk in Northern Ireland

AHF is delighted to announce the first project viability grants to be offered from our new Northern Ireland grants fund, thanks to the support of the Pilgrim Trust and the Department for Communities NI. This funding will help to secure the survival of these threatened historic buildings

Scots Church, Derry

The plight of Great James’ Street Presbyterian Church, Derry was highlighted over 20 years ago, when it featured in the register of Buildings at Risk.  Built in 1837, it is one of the best examples of Georgian style architecture in the city.  The church catered for skilled industrial immigrants from the Glasgow shipyards, and subsequently became known as the ‘Scots Church’.  The congregation moved on in 1983, and the building has since been used as a library, glassworks and, more recently, as a temporary music venue. 

An acquisition grant, administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund, on behalf of the then Northern Ireland Environment Agency, allowed the church to be purchased by An Gaelaras, who are at the forefront of preserving and promoting the Irish language in the area. 

scot's church (anG).jpg

They envisage creating “one of the most iconic arts and performance spaces in the city”, and have been awarded a Project Viability Grant to help them to update the condition survey (one of the requirements of the Heritage Lottery Fund, who have awarded them a Stage One Pass), and to further test the economic viability of the proposed uses.


Bushmills Courthouse


Bushmills courthouse was built by the MacNaghten family of Dunderave Estate in 1834 to serve as a Petty Session Court and as a symbol of authority in the area. The building contained a court room and cells, with living accommodation above for the police and was converted into a residence in the early 20th century.


The prominent building, at the heart of Bushmills Conservation Area, has been empty since the late 1960s and was acquired by the Causeway Enterprise Agency in 2016.  The Agency envisages using the building for a ‘Creative Enterprise Hub’ to include workspaces; a gallery; retail and community space; and self-catering accommodation, which is in sync with the Causeway Coast and Glens Council strategy for economic and social development in the region.


The Project Viability Grant awarded to this established social enterprise agency will allow them to test assumptions around the proposed uses of the courthouse, and associated land, and overall sustainability of the project.  The grant will also support the creation of a Conservation Management Plan, which will help inform the group’s approach to the building’s restoration, re-use and management, and allow them to amend extant planning permissions accordingly.

Ruth Johnson