Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Ulster's architectural gems that could be lost forever

Cairndhu, Ballygally, Larne: Built for John Stewart Clark sometime around 1880, Cairndhu was used as a private home until 1949, when it was gifted by Sir Thomas Dixon for use as a convalescent home. That function ceased in 1986. The building was sold, firstly to the local council, and subsequently to the present private owner.
Cairndhu, Ballygally, Larne: Built for John Stewart Clark sometime around 1880, Cairndhu was used as a private home until 1949, when it was gifted by Sir Thomas Dixon for use as a convalescent home. That function ceased in 1986. The building was sold, firstly to the local council, and subsequently to the present private owner.
14-16 Upper Crescent, Belfast: Architectural authority Paul Larmour describes Upper Crescent as the grandest neo-classical terrace in Ulster. Numbers 14 to 16 are now boarded up on the ground floor. Buddleia growing from the property appears to be damaging the stucco detailing and finishes. *** Local Caption *** 14-16 Upper Crescent, Belfast: Architectural authority Paul Larmour describes Upper Crescent as the grandest neo-classical terrace in Ulster. Numbers 14 to 16 are now boarded up on the ground floor. Buddleia growing from the property appears to be damaging the stucco detailing and finishes.
Boom Hall, Londonderry: The highly impressive Boom Hall and its estate-related buildings was one of the first Buildings at Risk to be identified by UAHS. The main building remains something of a gaunt ruin. Built around 1770 by Robert Alexander, it was reduced to a shell by fire in the early 1970s. The farm buildings are also in disrepair. Recently listed, they are under the ownership of the local authority, along with the surrounding 28 acres of agricultural land. The farm buildings are recorded in their listing record as being of two-storey construction in rubble schist with sandstone dressings. The external elevations have segmental arches with oculus windows — while these are in need of major repair they remain largely unaltered and are not beyond restoration.
Lisnaskea workhouse: One of three workhouses built in Co Fermanagh, much of the original complex at Lisnaskea survives. It sits rather forlornly in the midst of a late-20th century housing estate. The buildings are largely vacant in a poor state of repair but would be more than capable of reuse.
1 Stewart’s Place, Holywood: Thought to have been built about 1840 by William Lowry, Nos 1 and 3 Stewart’s Place are named after the first postmaster of Holywood, Hugh Stewart. No 3 was restored in 1993. Its neighbour is in a poor state of repair and the focus of continued concern from local residents.
Sallon Road thatch, Irvinestown: This thatched cottage, located to the southeast of Irvinestown, is an example of a stone-built longitudinal plan with out-buildings attached and extending to the rear. It is thought to have remained in occupation until the 1900s and remains at peril until the roof can be repaired and a new resident found.
Farrancassidy house, Belleek: An important seven-bay, two-storey farmhouse with a corrugated iron roof built by the Dundas family in 1731. Thought to be one of less than a dozen such properties to survive in a recognisable form, the house, byre and gateway have been afforded a high grade of listing as a reflection of such rarity.
Crumlin Road courthouse, Belfast : Following closure in 1998, much energy has been expended from various quarters in an attempt to bring about the re-use of the landmark Crumlin Road Courthouse and Gaol, which were designed by Charles Lanyon in the mid-19th century. The courthouse sits across the road from the Gaol and the two are linked by an underground passage. Plans for the courthouse include redeveloping it as a tourist attraction and a hotel. UAHS says it hopes these proposals can soon be implemented as part of a comprehensive scheme and, in so doing, act as catalysts for the further regeneration of the area in which they are situated. However, while the courthouse lay empty it was attacked by arsonists, suffering significant damage in a fire in March last year. A series of fires in August the same year caused further massive damage to the structure, leaving the future of the building in question.
Prospect House, Carrickfergus: A late-Georgian house dating from the 1760s and counted amongst fewer than 200 Grade A listed buildings in Northern Ireland. Reduced to a blackened shell in the late 1990s, it is now smothered by a modern housing development. It remains an important building.
Necarne Castle, Irvinestown : Large mansion house in decorated castellated style with stone walls partly rendered, Necarne Castle has lain empty for a considerable period of time. The grounds have been successfully developed for equestrian sports. The main building remains mothballed.
Lower Garfield Street, Belfast: Built in 1896, this building is today part of the ‘Royal Exchange’ development proposal and remains empty, despite the remaining tenant, the Tivoli Barber Shop, clinging on. It is deteriorating rapidly, with an amazing variety of vegetation taking root on the roof.
Manor House, Milford, armagh: Originally the seat of the McCrum family, damask manufacturers of the firm McCrum, Watson and Mercer, this two-storey mansion has been empty for over a decade. It was built in the late 19th century and is unusually constructed from mass concrete. The structure is beginning to crack and the façade opens to reveal the raw concrete beneath.

They are the architectural treasures you glimpse out of the corner of your eye as you’re driving through the countryside or walking through town.

But hundreds of them are being allowed to fall into ruin.

Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) has listed its ‘dirty dozen’ — the worst of the more than 500 once-beautiful buildings scattered across Northern Ireland deteriorating through lack of maintenance.

While Northern Ireland Environment Agency can order owners to repair listed buildings, these have only been used in two cases in the last 10 years.

This week is National Maintenance Week and UAHS has issued advice for owners of listed buildings on how to prepare their property for winter.

It said that if owners undertake straightforward maintenance measures in autumn, it can prevent major faults and damage at a later date, and stop buildings from being “at risk”.

The biggest enemy of building fabric is water, but an annual cleaning of gutters and drains can be cheaper and less traumatic than having to cope with dry rot after years of neglect, said UAHS director Rita Harkin.

“Ten minutes spent outside on a rainy day checking the performance of your gutters and drains can really make a difference. Just a few minutes invested in clearing weeds and debris, or just a few pounds to mend a leaky gutter can save many hundreds, and possibly thousands of pounds,” she said.

The society suggests checking for blocked downpipes, clearing debris from gullies, drains, hopperheads and flat roofs and removing damaging vegetation from downpipes. You can use a hand mirror to check for hidden cracks behind rainwater pipes.

Owners should fit guards to soil pipes and rainwater outlets and have gutters refixed if they are discharging water onto the wall. Regular painting of cast iron is essential to n prevent rust.

More advice, including the leaflet Look Before You Leak, is available at www.uahs.org.uk/resources



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