Mourne Wall scheme receives project award

Mourne Wall scheme receives project award

5 June 2019

A SCHEME that restored the 100 year-old Mourne Wall back to its original condition has been named Northern Ireland’s building project of the year. 

The £1.6m project which resulted in over 600 repairs over 22 miles, wowed judges at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Awards in Belfast last night. 

It beat off stiff competition from 35 other entries, securing the building conservation category before being named overall winner. 

The restoration involved using helicopters to transport some of the materials, as well as traditional methods of rolling the stones into place. 

Descendants of the original wall builders were also involved in the project and expertly crafted materials from the area were used in its granite restoration. 

The Mourne Wall was hand-built by the Belfast Water Commissioners between 1904 and 1922 to mark and protect the 9,000 acre water catchment area which feeds the Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs. 

The wall which has been a listed structure since 1996, is currently owned by Northern Ireland Water. 

Michael Donnelly, NI Water’s senior project manager, said: “NI Water is delighted to receive these prestigious awards from the RICS. The Mourne Wall Restoration Project has seen the integration of sympathetic traditional construction techniques and modern innovative surveying methods. 

“To have these prestigious awards bestowed on the team is recognition of the dedication and collaborative working instilled by stakeholders from the outset

“I would like to thank Mourne Heritage Trust, NIEA, National Trust and Trustees of Mourne for their guidance and assistance throughout this initial phase of repairs and pay tribute to the strenuous efforts exerted by GEDA Construction, local stonemasons from Thomas Rooney & Sons and the team from RPS.”

Michael Hannaway, chairman of the judging panel, said judges were impressed “with the blending of traditional skills and craftsmanship with modern surveying techniques to return the wall to its original condition”.

He added: “The team behind it should be very proud as it was no easy task, with such a challenging landscape to work within and many factors to consider in ensuring minimised environment impact.”

Mr Hannaway said the wall was in a special conservation area and in the heart of an area of outstanding natural beauty, as well as being an important landmark to the 100,000 walkers who visit the area annually. 

SDLP MLA for South Down Colin McGrath has congratulated everyone involved in the project. 

He said: “This restoration project has been admired locally, and now regionally. I am delighted this project has the potential to be recognised as the team go forward to the UK wide competition.

“The team of stonemasons have outdone themselves on this project and are a real credit to their trade. As we enter the summer months, I would encourage as many people as to explore this area of outstanding natural beauty on our doorstep.”

The Mourne Wall project will compete against other regional finalists in London in October for the chance to be crowned overall UK winner.