Railway up for heritage award

Railway up for heritage award

2 October 2019

THE Downpatrick and Co Down Railway is in the running for a major award.

The heritage railway’s Bundoran junction signal cabin — which has been lovingly restored by volunteers — has been shortlisted in the Ulster Architectural Heritage (UAH) Angel Awards which will be decided by public vote.

After being discovered in a garden in Ballinamallard where it was being used as a summer house and had become overgrown and derelict, the cabin was removed to Downpatrick for restoration.

The cabin was damaged by tree roots growing through the floor joists and much of the floor was rotten. In addition, there were areas of rot in the window sills which were removed and new timber spliced in to preserve as much of the original structure as possible.

The remaining windows were used as templates to create accurate replicas for those which were lost, while Bangor Blue roof slates were carefully removed to allow for repairs and then replaced.

Highly detailed restoration work also included conserving remaining paintwork where possible, with new paint colour-matched to the original. 

Internally, historically appropriate materials were used, such as reclaimed and refurbished Bakelite electrical fittings. Externally, appropriate fixtures were added, and a feature of Bundoran junction, a Victorian gas lamp, was installed outside the cabin.

The heritage railway has taken much care in restoring the signal cabin, including undertaking significant research into design and employing expert craftspeople to carry out the work. 

What was a lost piece of industrial heritage has been granted a new life, and generations of visitors will now get to experience and enjoy it.

The annual UAH awards are designed to celebrate “unsung angels of local heritage” and recognise individuals or groups who have rescued an historic building or site, worked as craftsmen or apprentices, or recorded and interpreted a historic place.

But the awards are not just about heritage, but the people that make heritage projects happen; those who showcase what is possible when people take interest in and take action for the care and consideration of our heritage.

Comprising 15 projects across five different categories, the awards shortlist showcases a range of diverse heritage initiatives across Northern Ireland.  

All of the shortlisted candidates have developed their interest in heritage in different ways and applied this into quality schemes in Northern Ireland.

The overall winner in each of the categories will be named at the Northern Ireland Heritage Angel Awards ceremony next month at the Market Place Theatre in Armagh.

The UAH is urging the public to vote for the winners in each category, full details of which are available at www.heritageangelawards-ni.org.uk. Voting is open until Friday, October 11.