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Historic Cabin Hill School goes on market at £675,000

By Lisa Smyth

Published 30/10/2015

Cabin Hill Primary School, Belfast
Cabin Hill Primary School, Belfast

The building that played host to the first Cabinet meetings of the fledgling Northern Ireland Government in the early 1920s is up for sale with a price tag of £675,000.

Historic Cabin Hill School in east Belfast is on the market with a view to transform it into apartments, a nursing home or even a hotel.

The estate agency handling the sale of the unique property, located just off the Upper Newtownards Road, said there has already been a large amount of interest in the building and 2.15 acres of surrounding land.

Douglas Wheeler from Lambert Smith Hampton said: "This property is in a very good location, the whole area is first class.

"It is a listed building, and while it requires refurbishment it represents an excellent opportunity to a developer."

The imposing grade 2 listed property - which dates back to the 1800s - has full planning permission for 12 apartments, which Mr Wheeler described as an "excellent residential opportunity".

The original Cabin Hill was a small dwelling built on the site in 1786, but was replaced with a larger building in 1861.

It was purchased by Robert James McMordie QC, Lord Mayor of Belfast, in 1903.

He added a number of extensions.

Mr McMordie died at Cabin Hill in 1914 and the property was leased to the Rt Hon Sir James Craig, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, between 1920 and 1922.

Several Cabinet meetings were accommodated there before it was sold to Campbell College in 1924, and housed its prep school from 1929.

Former pupil and teacher at Cabin Hill, Philip Hammond, said he was delighted to hear the building was up for sale.

"I was worried when it was closed that we could lose a building with such historical significance," he said.

Mr Hammond attended the school between 1959 and 1964 and was later director of music there between 1974 and 1988.

He added: "When I was at the school it had a lot of the original features, including a wonderful staircase and the old bookcases in the library.

"When I taught there my classroom was in the area that used to be stables, in fact it was still stables when I was a pupil.

"There is always a concern when a building like this is left empty it may be set on fire and all that history can be lost, so it is fantastic to think it will be preserved."

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