One of Holywood’s most important buildings has been officially re-opened following a £600,000 restoration programme.
The Old School on Church Road has undergone a year-long programme of repair and refurbishment and will now be used as a community facility for Holywood.
The Old School was one of the first buildings to have been constructed above the then expanding town in 1845.
It served the community as a school, church hall and scout hall before being abandoned due to the deterioration of the building.
The restoration work was undertaken by Holywood Old School Preservation Trust with the support of a £455,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Additional funding was also provided by the Environment and Heritage Service (now NIEA), Ulster Garden Villages, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Better Belfast, Low Carbon Building Programme, the 2nd Holywood Scouts, the Church of Ireland and a large number of individual donors.
Chairman of Holywood Old School Preservation Trust, Robert Maxwell, said: “The Old School is so important to the town of Holywood. It is held in high regard locally as it has made a big contribution to education, benefited the town’s young people and will now provide a much needed community facility for the people of Holywood.
“On behalf of the trust, I would like to thank all of the organisations, businesses and individuals who have helped to make this project possible.”
The Old School was officially re-opened by Ronnie Spence, trustee and chairman of the HLF Committee for Northern Ireland.
The HLF grant was awarded through its Heritage Grants scheme, and included funding for an educational programme which involved the production of an educational leaflet, a series of historic walks and lectures on themes ranging from historic buildings and architecture to landscaping and sustainability.
Community groups or organisations that wish to avail of the facilities at the Old School should contact Mervyn Black on 9042 5269.