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Chandlers House, Rathfriland
Chandlers House, Rathfriland

Banking on bringing life back to village square

19 August 2020
Northern Ireland

The Architectural Heritage Fund is delighted to have awarded a Project Development Grant to Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company (RDRC), allowing this dynamic local group to develop their plans for Chandler’s House, which will help to animate the core of this isolated rural village.

The B1 listed former Bank of Ireland building, located on the site of a candlemakers, has a distinctive decorative stucco façade, and began life as a pair of mid 19th century houses, one of which was converted to a banking hall in 1875.  Both houses were remodelled in the early 20th century to form both the bank and the manager’s house.  The bank has been empty for over 3 years and the building’s roof is in very poor condition, requiring urgent repair in order to prevent further water ingress.

RDRC, which has a long track record in community-led regeneration, has engaged in an extensive consultation process since it acquired the building.  It has tested out the uses proposed for it during a meanwhile phase and established that there is demand for a community arts and entertainment space and affordable housing units, which will bring people together and life back to the heart of the village. 

At the beginning of the Covid crisis, the group packed up potatoes and other local farm produce in the banking hall and disseminated food and vouchers among those in need in the community.  The Men’s Shed is keen to maintain a community garden behind the building, reinforcing the social impact of this project, which made it attractive to AHF, as the UK’s leading social investor in heritage. 

Pat Rafferty, Chair of Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company said:

"Rathfriland & District Regeneration Co Ltd believes that the redevelopment of Chandlers House has the potential to make a huge difference to the town centre and the lives of local people and we are very grateful to AHF for their support”

Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund said:

We are very pleased to be supporting Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company (RDRC) with their plans for Chandlers House. Not only will this scheme regenerate a key building within the village but the project will deliver significant social impact within the local community; the efforts of the organisation during the Covid crisis are an example of this. We look forward to supporting the RDRC as it takes forward the development of the building.

Photo Credit

Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company

Notes to Editors

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) helps communities across the UK find enterprising new uses for the old buildings they love.  The Growing Community Enterprise through Heritage programme in NI is supported by the Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division, The Pilgrim Trust and Garfield Weston Foundation. 

Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company (RDRC) was established to promote urban and rural regeneration for the benefit of the public in areas of social and economic deprivation, through the creation of training and employment opportunities, and the provision of housing for those who are in conditions of need.

For press enquiries please contact Rita Harkin, NI Support Officer, 07789 758080, rita.harkin@ahfund.org.uk Oliver Brodrick-Ward, oliver.brodrick-ward@ahfund.org.uk or Matthew Mckeague, 07429 799335.