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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Heritage at risk

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Heritage at risk
Heritage at Risk In Northern Ireland

"...this Italianate 19th Century house..."

"...the long main avenue was one of the first to be lit electrically, visitors travelling from far and wide to stare agog at the phenomenon..."

"...the many gabled Victorian house, is given a Chinese flavour by the design of the ornate open-work bargeboards..."

"...the fenestration is handled in an austere simple Georgian manner..."

These exotic sounding quotes are all references to some of the buildings at risk, in Northern Ireland. Many people don't realise that we've already lost thousands of great buildings to vandalism, decay and neglect.

All over Northern Ireland there are examples of buildings of architectural or historical interest that are in danger of being lost. Andrew McClelland, from the Ulster Architectural Society, makes a selection from their Buildings At Risk register which is produced in conjunction with the Environment and Heritage Service.

County Armagh - Manor House Special Care Hospital, Milford

Manor House Special Care Hospital, Milford, County Armagh
© courtesy of the UAHS
Originally the seat of the McCrum family, damask manufacturers, of the firm McCrum, Watson and Mercer, and home of the inventor of football's penalty kick, this two-storey mansion has been vacant for just over a decade, having previously been used as a special care home.

This vaguely Italianate 19th Century house with Camber-headed windows, has a three sided bow with a pedimented three bay projection. An elaborate range of glasshouses run out at right angles from the middle of the front facade.

It is believed to be built from mass-concrete and has a number of very fine interiors, said locally to have been worked on by the Rudolf Steiner School.

There is a suggestion that the long main avenue, "…was once noted for being one of the first in Ireland to be lit electrically, visitors travelling from far and wide to stare agog at the phenomenon".

Sadly, the avenue is now closed, the trees and lamps removed; the elaborate range of glasshouses have gone; the fireplaces have been stolen, as has the decorative cast iron fountain and the fine interiors are extremely vulnerable to ongoing deterioration.

Its future is looking increasingly uncertain and its isolated location means that the building is often subjected to vandalism, with the inevitable dangers.

William McCrum, whose home it once was, is credited with inventing the penalty kick, which was introduced in the 1891-92 season, at the urging of the Irish Football Association.

The rule about the penalty kick was made on 2 June 1891 at the Alexandra Hotel in Glasgow. William McCrum, a goalkeeper for Milford Everton, played in the Irish League in 1890/91.

County Down - Ebbitt Building, Bryansford

The Ebbitt Building, Bryansford, County Down
© courtesy of the UAHS
Known locally as 'The Nest', the former F H Ebbitt building closed a number of years ago as a field study centre for the local education and library board. Since then, it has lain vacant for want of an appropriate new use. It has been described as being a substantial stuccoed, two-storey picturesque rambling house, with a Tudor-arched doorway and assorted mullioned windows. It was converted for use as an educational centre in the early 1970s, at which time a modern extension was added, causing little disruption to the older house or the gardens.

More recently the local Education and Library Board had applied for consent to demolish this building as they had not realised that it is listed. This provoked an outcry from locals who were worried not only about the fine building being lost, but also that the potential site might be turned into apartments.

There has been a suggestion that the building might find a new use as the headquarters for a locally based charitable organisation, which is active in the field of natural and built heritage.

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