Shankill community benefits from AHF grant

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Argyle Business Centre was established 30 years ago as a local business development service in Belfast. It is now planning to take ownership of the Category B listed Shankill Mission Hall for conversion into a hotel to be operated as a social enterprise, and, by doing so, continuing the building’s history as a place of good for the Shankill community.

The building was listed in 2015 and dates from 1898. The Mission’s work was led by the Rev. Henry Montgomery, a man who had an enormous social impact in the area. Montgomery’s chosen architect was understandably William Roome, a missionary who had similarly strong Christian and philanthropic convictions and who became well known in Belfast for his public works.  The Mission Hall was built in the Queen Anne Revival style and today much of the historic fabric and detailing survive.

In its heyday in the 1930’s, attendance at the Mission Hall reached over 2,000 but by 2009 there were only 12 parishioners. Now, the Argyle Business Centre proposes to convert the building into a 48 bed four-star training hotel which will invest in the training of local people in the hotel industry. It needs to raise considerable funds to complete the project (circa £8m) and the AHF’s grant of £5,000 will fund the commission of a high quality promotional video and marketing material to help reach out in its fundraising campaign.

The Board of Argyle Business Centre commented that “it is very pleased to receive the support of the AHF.  The grant will enable Argyle to produce a professional video which will be used to market the project - to connect with and enthuse the Greater Shankill community, inform decisions about the area and promote the social and economic benefits to public and private funders”.

Editor’s notes

·         The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. We are the leading heritage social investor and the only specialist heritage lender operating in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans.

·         AHF grant-aid in Northern Ireland is only possible thanks to funding from Department of Communities for Northern Ireland and the Pilgrim Trust.

·         For press enquiries please contact Oliver Brodrick-Ward, on 020 79250199 / oliver.brodrick-ward@ahfund.org.uk