Plans are being drawn up for an ambitious programme of works to refurbish Ballycraigy Protestant Hall, it has been confirmed.
The building on Ballycraigy Road near Glengormley, which dates back to 1889, is in need of significant repairs and improvements.
One local resident, who didn’t want to be named, said the hall “has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.”
“It’s such an historic building and a real landmark around here, so it’s a pity that it’s now in such poor condition,” she commented.
“The fence is rotten and the render is falling off the gable wall. It’s a bit of a sorry sight.
“It’s a lovely Orange hall and something people should be proud of. It has a great history and it’s such a shame that it’s in this state.”
Albert Steele, the Orange Order’s Carnmoney District Master, said the hall is currently used by the Glengormley and Ballycraigy lodges, with the latter responsible for the running and upkeep of the building.
Responding to the resident’s concerns about the condition of the property, he said: “The Ballycraigy Lodge is in the process of trying to get grant funding and raise money to get the hall refurbished. I know from experience at my own hall in Mossley that it took in the region of four years from the start of the process until the work was finished. It can be a long process, but hopefully the Ballycraigy Lodge will get the funding to do the work and bring the building back to its former glory.”
According to hall trustee Lindsay Peacocke, a committee has been set up to draw up a development plan and identify potential funding sources for the refurbishment of the building, which they are keen to develop as a community hall.
He stressed that the property is structurally sound and said the material falling off the gable wall is a “skim of cement wash” that has been applied to the building periodically over many years.
“The structure is sound enough, so it’s not going to fall down around us,” he told the Times. “We have just recently set up a Heritage Committee to put together a strategy for the complete refurbishment of the hall, but as with all these things it will be dependent upon us being able to secure the necessary funding.”
Mr Peacocke revealed that any refurbishment project is likely to include external work, as well as major internal improvements such as rewiring, a new kitchen and replacement windows.
“We are not going to be able to do it all at once and we will have to prioritise our needs. It will have to be a staged process and it could take some time to complete,” he added.