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The AHF appreciates that neglected buildings which are all too familiar in our towns, cities and countryside can, with a little imagination and a lot of enthusiasm, be rescued to become assets for their communities by people wanting to make a difference. The AHF has helped hundreds of organisations throughout the UK to do exactly that.

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AHF helps find a future for lynchpin 'Belltower building', Ballylough estate, Bushmills, N. Ireland

Oliver Brodrick-Ward

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The Architectural Heritage Fund is pleased to back Ballylough Living History Trust, as they work with the local community to home in on viable uses for the ‘Belltower building’, a lynchpin structure within a group of farm buildings on the Ballylough Estate, near Bushmills, Northern Ireland.  

This fascinating 17th century demesne contains the ruins of MacQuillan’s castle and Ballylough House, dating from 1789, with its beautifully maintained, ornamental walled garden.  Evidence suggests that, in the 1800s, the Belltower building was used as a kitchen for the farmyard community, and may also have been a forge for farmyard metal working.  It was fully used up until the 1980s, and is now partially used for storage and in need of urgent repair.  

The group has engaged with the Alzheimer’s Association and the Health and Social Care Trust, amongst others, to ensure that the benefits of this special estate can be enjoyed by as many local people in need as possible.  The Project Viability Grant will allow the group to develop and refine these consultations, and help identify end users who can sustain this building and fit into the Trust’s wider plans for the estate, which are being invested in by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

June Traill, Director of Ballylough Living History Trust said:

“This grant provides the Trust with a great opportunity to carry out a fully engaged consultation and devise a business plan and fund-raising plan for the unique Bell Tower building, centrally situated in the ancient farm yards of Ballylough Estate, right beside the Corn Stooks, where we are running this year’s volunteer Spring Tidy Project.  The Bell Tower will be key to future farm yard plans.” Locals and visitors are welcome to take part in the consultation process.  For more information please see the projects page on the website: www.ballylough.co.uk

Matthew McKeague, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund said:

‘This is a unique building and a site of significant historical importance. Creating viable uses for buildings like this requires close collaboration and consultation with the local community and it’s great to see the Trust planning to open the site to as wide an audience as possible, to help maximise its benefits.’

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Editors’ Notes

The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976, to promote the conservation and sustainable reuse of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in areas of deprivation.  It is the leading heritage social investor and the only specialist heritage lender operating in the UK.

The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland, through its Historic Environment Division, and the Pilgrim Trust, has funded the AHF to deliver a two year programme of advice and seed funding to grow community enterprise through heritage across Northern Ireland.  

For further information contact: Rita Harkin, NI Support Officer: 07789 758080