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Northern Ireland home used as Military Police HQ during war on the market for £520k

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Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

Balmacara dates back to 1895

A spectacular six-bedroom residence once owned by a Northern Ireland government official has gone on the market with a price tag of just over £500,000.

Balmacara, which dates back to 1895, sits on a half-acre site in the Deanfield area of Londonderry.

Its unusual name came from its previous owner, Commander Albert Wesley 'Bertie' Anderson, a former mayor of Derry who served in Brian Faulkner's Stormont government.

Current owner Robert Lyttle has lived there for over 30 years.

He said: "In 1897 there were only two houses in Deanfield, this house and what is now Deanfield nursing home. They were both built by the same architect, who came from Convoy in Co Donegal.

"It got its name from a previous owner, Commander Bertie Anderson, who was a Royal Navy commander in the Second World War.

"He did a lot of exercises and military operations in the Highlands in Balmacara, and he loved it so much he decided to call the house after that very nice area."

He explained how Mr Anderson was mayor in the 1960s and an Ulster Unionist MP from 1968 until Stormont was prorogued in 1972 as the Troubles raged.

Mr Anderson was senior parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs in the early 1970s.

Because of his political connections, the house had extra security.

Mr Lyttle added: "Whenever we bought this house there was bulletproof Perspex on most of the ground floor windows, and the B-Specials actually camped out in the garden and Lady Anderson would have brought them out cups of tea."

During the Second World War Balmacara was requisitioned by the Army and used as the headquarters for the Royal Military Police. Mr Lyttle added: "One of the smallest bedrooms upstairs was used as 'the cell' because it has a little window, so for the squaddies who were out drinking on a Saturday night, they were brought back and thrown in the cell.

"We bought the house in 1987 and whenever the decorators were in stripping back the wallpaper they discovered the wall covered in the loveliest graffiti, poems written by boys, Scousers and Geordies.

"The painters asked me if he should paint over them, but I said absolutely not."

Mr Lyttle and his wife Valerie raised their family of three in Balmacara, but with their children having left they feel it is now time to hand the reins over to someone else.

He added: "I love this house and my wife and I really do not want to leave it, but it is 3,200 feet and just too big now for the two of us, but I am keen to see it go to another family.

"There has been so much development around here where other houses like ours have been torn down and 200 townhouses built in its place, but I am adamant I will not sell this house to a builder.

"We have poured our heart and soul into this house and didn't do anything in half measures, but it has been a labour of love and we will be sad to leave it."

The love bestowed on Balmacara is clear to see, from the sumptuous reception rooms, generous kitchen and luxurious bedrooms, all sympathetically restored and decorated in keeping with the origins of the house.

The entrance hall is dominated by an impressive stained glassed door that leads to three reception rooms.

The ground floor rooms are all decorated with vibrant colours and are flooded with natural light, as are the six bedrooms and large family bathrooms on the first floor.

The grounds of Balmacara complement the house, with the garden meticulously cared for. Balmacara is close to Foyle College and Foyle Arena, while also being a short distance form Ebrington Square and the city's Peace Bridge.

The house is being sold by Montgomery and Cleary Estate Agents with an asking price of £520,000.

Viewing can be arranged by contacting Ben Montgomery on 028 7134 2333.

Belfast Telegraph