Project Viability Grant
Project Development Grant
When William Riddel, scion to a metals and ironmongery trading company, needed additional space in central Belfast in the middle of the 1860s, he commissioned the prominent architect Thomas Jackson to design a large, galleried warehouse facing onto a five-storey glazed atrium on Ann Street close to the docks. Lauded in the Victorian press as a triumph of purpose-built design, the building served the expanding Riddel’s empire until the onset of The Troubles forced the company elsewhere in 1973. The warehouse was retained empty as a ‘sacrificial wall’ to protect the adjoining police station from bomb damage. Today, Grade B-listed Riddel’s Warehouse remains virtually unaltered, offering remarkable testimony to the role of the iron industry in Belfast’s better-known shipbuilding history.
Hearth Historic Buildings Trust has worked for nearly five decades to save derelict buildings and those at risk of demolition across Northern Ireland. Under Hearth’s direction, more than 40 homes have been preserved, as well as larger structures housing community facilities, theatres and restaurants. After acquiring Riddel’s Warehouse, Hearth has explored the use of the space for art and music events, and plans to develop the space for mixed uses including performance, co-working offices and commercial units, including a café.
The AHF has supported Hearth in developing this project since 2014, with three grants – the most recent in August 2020 – to help them explore potential end uses, engage stakeholders and refine business plans. Additionally, the project has secured a £300,000 Heritage Impact Fund loan to support the costs of capital work. While progressing thoughtfully to ensure the building finds a sustainable use, Hearth is committed to injecting new vitality into this unique piece of Belfast history.