The AHF is delighted to have awarded Kilcooley Women’s Centre a Project Development Grant to progress the Old Market House, Bangor project. This will allow them to fund a staff member who will co-ordinate this important town centre revival initiative.
Built in 1780 as the Market House for the seaside town of Bangor, this centrally located building became the Court House and Assembly Rooms in the 1820s and was altered in 1895 to form a National School. It subsequently became the Town Hall in 1933 and was opened by Viscount Craigavon, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland. It was then converted into a public bank, which closed in May 2019, and is therefore in relatively good condition, however most of its historic interior has been lost. A low, single-storey tower behind the parapet, topped by a cupola was also removed, and the opportunity now presents itself to reinstate this historic roofline. The Market House has great significance for the community, given its tangible links with the earliest development of the town, and it is important to local people that this historic asset remains publicly accessible.
Kilcooley Women’s Centre is an award-winning social enterprise, which provides key services for women, children and families in the Ards and North Down area. It focuses on training, education, health and well-being and provides transformational change programmes which enable participants to improve their life chances through better outcomes. It plans to use the building as its core base, as well as accommodate new uses, including office space, co-working spaces, training and meeting rooms, and a large, flexible foyer for community events.
The project benefitted from a Project Viability Grant from AHF to help form the business case and develop architectural plans and a loan was recently approved from its Heritage Impact Fund to help the group to acquire the building.
Alison Blayney, Chief Executive Officer with KIlcooley Women’s Centre said:
“We are delighted to receive a Project Development Grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund which will enable KWC to progress to the next phase of the Old Market House project in Bangor Town Centre, as we work to repurpose the building for community use. This grant is instrumental in the development of the building, as we work towards the conservation and restoration of this historically significant building, and the wrap around support and advice from AHF in conjunction with this grant has been crucial’.
1) The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) helps communities across the UK find enterprising new uses for the old buildings they love through a combination of advice, grants and loans. The Heritage Transformed programme in NI is supported by the Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division, The Pilgrim Trust and Garfield Weston Foundation.
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