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The Woolstore

Caledon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

Caledon Regeneration Partnership Ltd.

Wool Store provides sustainable childcare facilities 

The Wool Store was constructed in 1823 and once provided storage facilities for Caledon Mill. Originally a flour mill, this large building was converted for woolen production in the 1880s and was the main employer in the area until its closure in 1931. Located at the heart of the Conservation Area, the Wool Store was used for mushroom growing in the 1970s but has since been left vacant. To this day, it continues to form an important part of the histories of many of the families in the local community.

Caledon Regeneration Partnership (CRP) decided to convert the Wool Store into a childcare facility, allowing it to become eligible for the ‘Village Catalyst’ pilot - an innovative programme led by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department for Communities (DfC). The pilot sought to address issues arising from rural poverty and social isolation through underused historic buildings. The childcare facility was identified as the service that would most benefit the Caledon community. The building will provide 36 childcare places for children (ages 0-5) and 16 afterschool places and is being developed to Southern Health and Social Care Trust specifications and regulations.

The new annexe, designed by award-winning architect, Mark Hackett, allows the original building to connect to the raised south-facing garden on the sloped site and incorporates energy-efficiency measures, helping to improve the overall sustainability of the building.

The conversion has sought to reduce the use of concrete construction, with all new floors and roofs being formed in timber using deep sustainable insulation. These timber floors are child-friendly and allow underfloor heating to be applied, powered by an air source heat pump. New timber linings, backed with sheep’s wool insulation, form warm and robust surfaces at child play level. There are renewed, more energy-efficient sash windows, while linoleum, timber and stone are used as hardwearing natural floors. The new classroom and circulation spaces have glazed areas, picking up solar gains but set deeply into the frame to achieve summer shading.

A Project Viability Grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund helped CRP to engage with the Caledon community and arrive at a viable use, develop their business case, and successfully bid for capital funding from the Village Catalyst pilot programme. This unlocked further capital funding from the private owner of the building, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the local council, and DfC’s Covid Recovery funding via a Capital Works Grant administered by the AHF.

Overall, the Caledon Wool Store Project has balanced the need for daycare with a love for this locally significant, historical building to create an environmentally sustainable childcare facility incorporating energy-efficiency measures.


William Beattie from Caledon Regeneration Partnership, said:

“The reuse, refurbishing, and upgrading of the Wool Store has greatly enhanced the projects already carried out by CRP in relation to the Built Heritage of Mill St. Locating this fantastic new facility in the village will reduce our overall carbon footprint by decreasing the need to travel long distances to access childcare, whilst at the same time bringing an old derelict building back into use with the application of sustainable products where possible.”

Caledon Regeneration Partnership

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