Final preparations are being made ahead of the official opening of a new £700,000 Orange heritage centre in Limavady.
The impressive three-storey building includes an Orange museum which will be the focal point for the Institution’s outreach locally, opening up the traditions of the Loyal Order in Co Londonderry to a wider audience.
The heritage centre, built on the site of the town’s old district hall, also contains a function room, lodge room and offices.
Keith Thompson, one of the trustees, said the new development was exciting news for the Orange Order in Limavady and the surrounding area.
“This new building represents a major investment and a great optimism for the future,” he said.
“The trustees took a strategic decision to replace the old building, which had served its purpose well over the years since it opened in 1891, and to erect a modern facility on the site.”
Limavady Orange District was formed in 1811, with the first lodges in the area known to have been formed in the late 1790s. The new centre will feature details on the early lodges and Orange halls in the locality as well as prominent figures within the Institution locally.
Artefacts from 19th century Orangeism, the Home Rule period and both world wars will be among those on display.
Notable artefacts include a Limavady Unionist Club Banner from 1892 and an Ulster Volunteer Force Patriotic Fund administration committee minute book, dated from August 1916 to July 1921.
An old cannon, belonging to Bovea Orange Lodge, which was cast in Scotland in the 1820s, will also be on show.
Fellow trustee Aaron Callan said: “There are a lot of interesting historical documents and artefacts and we felt they should be preserved and that they should be utilised to help tell the story of Orangeism in the area.
“We have also had the promise of artefacts once the centre is open, so we anticipate adding to the collections on display.”
Several of the rooms in the new centre will be named after distinguished figures including William Massey, former prime minister of New Zealand, who was a prominent Orangeman in his adopted homeland.
As part of the work on the new centre, a logo has been designed and this will feature at the front of the building and on literature. It was based on the window design at the front of the old hall, which has also been replicated on the new centre and includes William of Orange.
The heritage centre will be formally opened by the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, on Saturday July 1.