Orange Order to mark opening of heritage centre in Limavady
A new £700,000 Orange heritage centre in Limavady will open its doors to the public on July 1 when grand master Edward Stevenson will cut the ribbon.
Orangemen and women will take part in a parade around the town on the day to celebrate the occasion.
The three-storey building includes a museum, which is at the heart of plans to provide tours and expand outreach into the community to tell the story of the Orange tradition.
Keith Thompson, one of the trustees, said the development was exciting news for the Orange Order in the Limavady area.
He added: "This new building represents a major investment and a great optimism for the future.
"Trustees of the old Limavady Orange Hall took a strategic decision to replace the old building, which had served its purpose well over the years since it opened in 1891, and to erect a modern facility on the site.
"This will include an Orange heritage centre as well as functional rooms for lodge meetings and social events."
Limavady Orange District was formed in 1811, some time after the first lodges in the area were known to have been established in the late 1790s.
The new centre will feature details on the early lodges and Orange halls in the area, as well as prominent figures within the institution locally.
Artefacts from 19th century Orangeism, the Home Rule period and both World Wars will be among those on display.
These include a Limavady Unionist Club banner and an Ulster Volunteer Force Patriotic Fund administration committee minute book dated from August 1916 to July 1921.
The committee dealt with claims from dependents of UVF members serving in the First World War, as well as assisting families of injured members unable to work owing to war injuries.
Also on show will be an old cannon belonging to Bovea Orange Lodge, which was cast in Scotland in the 1820s.
DUP councillor Aaron Callan, who is also a trustee, said: "There are a lot of interesting historical documents and artefacts and we felt they should be preserved and that they should be utilised to help tell the story of Orangeism in the area.
"We have also had the promise of artefacts once the centre is open, so we anticipate adding to the collections on display."
Several of the rooms in the new centre will be named after prominent figures, including WF Massey, who rose to become Prime Minister of New Zealand and was a prominent Orangeman in his adopted homeland.
As part of work on the centre, a logo was designed and this will feature at the front of the building and on literature. It was based on the window design at the front of the old building, which has also been replicated on the new centre and includes William of Orange.