Newtownabbey's landmark White House, thought to be more than 440-years-old, has been gifted a lifeline with a £500,000 grant from the Biffaward scheme.
The White House Preservation Trust, which was established to fund the restoration of this historical building, applied for the grants to cover the cost of restoring the existing structure and constructing a new first floor and roof.
This property, which should open at the end of the year, is believed to have been built in 1569.
The White House plays an important role in the history of Newtownabbey Borough Council, having served as a navigation point for ships on the lough, as well as a communications post between Belfast and Carrickfergus and later a Gospel Hall. The White House currently benefits the community by running archaeology days for local students, with over 500 participants from 12 different schools in Newtownabbey, Larne and Carrickfergus having gone through the programme up until now.
Biffaward is an independent multi-million pound Landfill Community Fund Scheme which is funded by Biffa Waste Services and awards up to £500k to community and environmental projects within 25 miles of Biffa sites.
Oliver Mars, Commercial manager for Biffa Waste Services Ltd, said: “We’re delighted to support a project that is so central to the history of the local community.
“The restoration of the White House will not only restore a landmark building, but will also provide local school children with valuable insight into the history of the area and is a tremendous asset to Northern Ireland Tourism.”
Chair of the White House Preservation Trust, Councillor Billy Webb, said: “We’re very grateful to have received the grant from Biffaward, which has been so instrumental in funding not only the restoration of the listed building, but in bringing the community together to learn about our shared history.
“Without this funding the current project simply would not have been possible, so we can’t thank Biffa enough.
“The work should be finished by the end of this year, when we will mark the occasion by hosting an exhibition about the history of the building and also the Williamite and Jacobite wars in Ireland seen in a European context.
“The benefits to the community are immeasurable, but the £500,000 has helped us to seal the walls and rebuild parts of the structure to enable a roof to be put back on the building for the first time in many years, undertake an archaeological dig, run archaeological education programs and install a viewing pane, through which visitors can see some of the original architecture, including a bread oven, dating back to the 1620s.”
Newtownabbey Mayor, Alderman Paula Bradley said: ”It has been great to see how the community of volunteers have come together to improve this site, not only have they pooled all their resources together, but there were educational visits where school children got an insight into the history of the property through archeological digs.
“This is a great project for local heritage and economy alike and we thank Biffaward for the contribution they have made to making it all possible,” he added.