Gaol set for distillery make-over
The strict alcohol ban inside a Northern Ireland prison has been consigned to history after plans were announced to convert the derelict building into a distillery.
The historic Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast, which has been derelict for 16 years, will soon be producing whiskey by the barrel.
The three-storey A wing will be the new home of the recently established Belfast Distillery Company (BDC).
In a multi-million pound investment, the company plans to turn the building into a boutique distillery that will produce its Titanic and Danny Boy whiskeys.
The BDC, a consortium run by Belfast businessman and millionaire Lottery winner Peter Lavery, was awarded the government contract to regenerate the wing.
As well as being a working distillery, the building will also house a tasting room, bar, restaurant, shop and interpretative area. BDC anticipate the project could eventually create up to 60 jobs.
Mr Lavery said: "The existing form of the A Wing in the gaol is ideally suited to this new use without compromise to the character or to the architectural and historic interest of this Grade A listed building.
"The BDC will be the first distillery to operate in Belfast for over 75 years and will be bringing back to prominence an industry with which the city has long historical associations. I'm delighted that we will be able to bring the production of Titanic and Danny Boy whiskeys home to Belfast."
The A Wing project is part of wider regeneration plans for the Crumlin Road Gaol and nearby Girdwood Army Barracks site in the north of the city.
Stormont junior minister Martina Anderson welcomed BDC's plans. "The proposed development by the Belfast Distillery Company is a very welcome boost for North Belfast," Ms Anderson said. "It is always encouraging to see a local man investing in his home city, and never more so given the challenging economic times we are experiencing."