The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is pleased to have awarded a Village Catalyst Project Viability Grant to The Mustard Seed Project to advance plans to preserve, restore and maintain the Chichester Club Building for the benefit of the local community. This was one of eight awards made in the latest grants meeting, where projects ranging geographically from Merthyr Tydfil to Inverness were offered funding totalling £72,862.
Situated off the Main Street in Castledawson, the Chichester Club is a B listed, 19th century end-of-terrace building. Originally a pair of houses, the buildings were converted by Blackwood and Jury architects into Castledawson Working Men’s Club in 1912. Gifted by the Chichester family of Moyola Park, the building later became the social club of the local Moyola Park Football Club. After Moyola FC moved into a new clubhouse and grounds, however, the Chichester Club was left vacant and became derelict.
The building has been purchased by the local Church of Ireland and is leased by The Mustard Seed Project. Castledawson currently lacks community spaces and The Mustard Seed Project seeks to restore the Chichester Club Building as a community hub, meeting the needs of several main user groups from across the village. The Village Catalyst programme – a partnership between the Department for Communities, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, AHF and the NI Housing Executive - provides a significant opportunity for the group to engage with the community and to explore a range of sustainable uses for the building, such as a meeting venue; a thrift shop; an advice centre; a warm hub; a food distribution centre; and other social and community activities.
The AHF grant will help the group to create a Feasibility Study on the back of community and stakeholder engagement work, carry out a governance review, and devise a Project Viability Report.