Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order is the latest deposit for former bank site

By Kathryn McGowan

Orange headquarters has moved to temporary premises on the Newtownards Road, east Belfast, ahead of substantive renovation works.

Staff at Schomberg House began the physical move to the new base at Holywood Arches at the end of November, with the administrative hub of the Institution being fully operational from the start of this month.

The former bank building is expected to remain as Orange headquarters until early 2015, when the new interpretative centre at Schomberg House is complete.

Last year, it was announced the REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage) received £3.6 million from the EU's PEACE III Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

A linked interpretative centre will also be constructed at Sloan's House, Loughgall.

The extension of Schomberg House will incorporate a museum, which will include a replica Orange Hall, displaying a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism around the world.

The new state-of-the-art building will house a research facility and act as an educational resource, with particular access for schools and cross-community visits.

It will also contain expanded shop displays and for the first time, the provision of a café on-site.

The refurbishment of Sloan's House - where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago - will feature an additional museum area and provision of detailed information relating to the early history of Orangeism.

Five new staff were appointed earlier this year - including a museum curator, marketing officer and outreach officer - as part of the overall implementation of the project.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, welcomed the temporary move, which signalled the start of an exciting future for the Institution.

"There was a slight delay in the decantment, due to circumstances beyond our control, but the move to temporary premises marks the commencement of a new chapter in the history of our Institution.

"I am pleased work will commence on the new world-class interpretative centres at Schomberg House and Sloan's House early in the New Year, ensuring a one-time concept finally becomes a reality.

"The REACH Project will put the Institution centre stage in the community and make it amenable to a much wider audience as we continue our ongoing outreach."

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