The former Warrant Officer’s house and Guard Room in Carrickfergus (a Grade B1 listed building) is the latest building to be restored, thanks to the Townscape Heritage Initiative.
The THI is an ambitious regeneration scheme for the town’s Conservation Area, supported by £1.55million in funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and £0.55 million from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Traditional craftspeople are, once again, busy on the scaffold following the reopening of the site in August after the lockdown.
During this repair and conservation project, the same traditional methods and materials are being adopted which would have been utilised at the time of the construction of the building in 1900 as a military gaol and officer’s house.
Traditional craft techniques and materials being used during this project include stonemasonry repairs, lime pointing, lead roof flashing work, and natural roof slating using Bangor Blue Welsh Slates.
The project is helping to sustain these important traditional building skills.
Upon completion, all these elements will ensure the original character of the building is retained, and the streetscape along Antrim Street greatly enhanced.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “I am delighted to see the works at The Warrant Officers House in Carrickfergus nearing completion.
“Very soon we will be able to see the building restored to its former glory.
“With such a prominent place in the town, the work will allow future generations to enjoy it to its full potential.”
Speaking about the repair scheme, Paul Mullan, Director NI, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to see another project progress under the Townscape Heritage Initiative programme.
“The project will add another heritage asset to the story of Carrickfergus and it is this local heritage on our doorstep that is most relevant for people and communities to enjoy and celebrate”.
Once complete, The Guard Room will be another heritage asset for both locals and tourists to enjoy and appreciate the compelling history of the town.
The new high quality visitor attraction will complement the existing local history museum in the Museum and Civic Centre and be part of the cultural heritage and tourism offer of Carrickfergus and surrounding area.
The old gaol cells are to get a new lease of life as it is re-interpreted to reveal its original purpose – as holding cells for disobedient soldiers.
Thanks to the Irish Walled Towns Network, who are funding the interpretative fit-out of The Guard Room, as it is to be known, will also tell the story of the Antrim Artillery militia as well as 800 years of history on this significant site in the town.
However, the site was in use long before the Antrim Artillery arrived.
From the establishment of a Franciscan Friary, to the erection of Sir Arthur Chichester’s magnificent mansion, Joymount House; from the austere County Antrim Gaol, where convicts were executed, or transported away to Australia, to the opening of a new Town Hall, Carrickfergus’s latest heritage attraction will reveal hidden histories of those who lived and worked on this site over the centuries.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.