Belfast Telegraph

Historic Cairndhu House in line for £30m retirement village revamp

By James Gant

These images show how a once-grand Northern Ireland mansion has been reduced to a crumbling wreck.

Cairndhu House, off the Coast Road near Ballygalley, Co Antrim, dates back to the 19th century and was owned at one time by Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon. However, over the last three decades it has fallen into a sorry state of disrepair.

Newly-published interior photos show the roof of the abandoned mansion caved in, floors collapsed and windows boarded.

Abandoned NI - an online site which documents forgotten buildings - posted images of the ruins this week.

Urban exploration (urbex) photographer Rebecca, who did not want her second name used, is from the site. She said: "It's a disgrace that it's left like this.

"This is one of my all-time favourite buildings that I've documented.

"I've visited Cairndhu many times over the years and I'm sorry to say it's certainly on its last legs with most of the three floors now collapsed and part of the roof has caved in to the rear of the building."

Cairndhu House drew Rebecca to urbex photography in 2010 when she said the house was in a much better way with a secure, locked, metal front door.

She returned on Sunday and claimed lead had been stripped from the roof and there was some water leakage. But she said most of the top floors were accessible via the main staircase.

She added: "It begs the question why no-one in Larne and the surrounding areas is talking about the death and destruction of Cairndhu House.

"I fear it won't be long until the house either completely falls down, or is set on fire as there were signs of fires on the ground floor.

"I feel a duty to the house to highlight its current state and I sincerely hope this recent attention will start the wheels in motion in saving Cairndhu House."

The house, built as the summer residence for Scottish industrialist Stewart Clark in around 1875, has been the site of numerous reported ghost sightings.

After serving as a stately home, owner Sir Thomas Dixon, a politician who married Clark's daughter Edith in 1906, donated it to NI Hospitals Authority in 1947.

Since then it has been a convalescent home but was closed by the Department of Health in 1986.

And in 2015, parts of Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller Morgan were filmed there.

Recent attention has mainly come from bored teenagers, who showcased their graffiti skills on the walls of the ruin.

But plans to renovate the house are underway as Manor Architects look to turn it into a nursing home.

They want the Victorian-era house to be an 80-bedroom complex with five newly-built retirement cottages in its grounds.

It is reported to require a £25-£30m investment.

Johann Muldoon, managing director of Manor Architects, said: "This ambitious scheme will see the restoration of Cairndhu House and stable block facilitated by a first-of-its-kind retirement village on the Causeway Coastal Route adjacent to Carnfunnock Country Park."

She said it was a "final attempt to restore and save this piece of history".

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph