Belfast Telegraph

Historic city church to be saved

A derelict church building in Belfast is to be saved from collapse.

Dense foliage and tree branches climb up the side of the stone facade at Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church at the edge of north Belfast, which enjoys international recognition of its endangered status.

Experts will be drafted in to secure the 1875 building, which has lain empty for 30 years, and prevent it from deteriorating further using £400,000 of Environment Agency money.

Shane Quinn, development officer at the Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust, said: "There is clear evidence from the local community that this building is valued by them, there is a sense of loss, it is important that it be built up long-term."

Carlisle Memorial was named after Lord Carlisle, former viceroy of Ireland, and James Carlisle, the Belfast builder who constructed it in memory of his son.

Once the heart of a thriving Methodist community, the neo-gothic style church suffered a body blow when the Westlink motorway was built alongside it in the mid-1960s.

This, together with the outbreak of violence which was at its most intense in the local area, helped prompt the closure of the church in 1982.

The World Monuments Fund in 2010 recognised it as one of the 100 most endangered historic buildings in the world. Others on the list include the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

Mr Quinn added: "We have no definite planned use for the building. We are at the beginning of a process of working with the local communities so that we can evolve a solution."

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "Carlisle Memorial is a jewel in our historical crown and after its conservation it will have a great beneficial impact for the economy, tourism and for health and well being."

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