After twelve years of legal negotiations, funding applications, development plans, and even an appearance on national TV, work is finally underway to restore and convert an old church building in the County Antrim village of Cushendun.
Cushendun Old Church Centre will be an arts, heritage and community space
serving people across the Glens of Antrim. The building will also be open year-round
as an information and mini-heritage centre, in which visitors can learn about the
The restoration has been made possible thanks to funding and support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NI), Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division (Historic Environment Fund), Ulster Garden Villages Ltd, the Pilgrim Trust and the All Churches Trust.
Built in 1842 as a Church of Ireland place of worship, Cushendun Old Church was deconsecrated in 2003 after congregation numbers dwindled.
Since then, local residents – led by dedicated volunteers in Cushendun Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) – have tirelessly campaigned for the building to become a community hub with a focus on the arts.
The Old Church project won the Northern Ireland heat in the BBC Two programme Restoration Village back in 2006 but failed at the last hurdle in the UK finals.
Since work commenced, extensive repairs have been carried out to the interior and exterior building fabric. A new extension annexed to the original building is also taking shape. It is expected the building work will be completed during Spring 2019.
Monica Morgan, Chair of Cushendun Building Preservation Trust, said, “This is a very exciting time for us here in Cushendun and in the wider Glens. The village has a long association with the arts – painters, poets and writers have all been regular visitors here.
“After more than a decade, we are delighted that this much-needed resource for everyone in the community is now a reality. It has been a long road with countless applications, meetings and, of course, setbacks, but we never gave up hope.
“We’re now calling on interested parties who have a class or a project which would work in the space – be it craft or exercise classes, an exhibition, drama, concert or other event – to get in touch. This will be a space for everyone to enjoy, thanks to our funders, volunteers and supporters!”
For more information on the Old Church Centre, please visit https://theoldchurchcentre.com/