The former Kelly’s coal office in Carrick is set to “relight” the town centre thanks to £1.7m funding from the Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
The ambitious regeneration scheme in the town’s conservation area is supported by £0.55m from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Previously, the building which dates back to 1910, was the office for the coal and shipping business of Charles Legg. It was taken over by coal merchant John Kelly in 1920.
The building at Marine Highway has been a local landmark for more than a century but has fallen into disrepair. It was given a temporary wrap in 2014 depicting its original appearance.
Working with a local property developer, THI funding will breathe new life into this well-known site to turn it into functional office space. It is expected to open next summer.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr. Lindsay Millar said: “It’s really exciting to see this fantastic project getting underway to restore one of the town’s most famous buildings. Growing up in Carrickfergus, everyone knows this landmark and its rich industrial heritage makes it an important part of the town’s streetscape. I can’t wait to see the results.
“The THI can deliver almost £4million of investment to refurbish historic town centre properties, safeguarding these for future generations. Special thanks to the National Lottery Players for making this project possible, it’s great to see your money being used for fantastic schemes like this.”
Chair of the Carrickfergus THI Project Board, deputy mayor Cllr Cheryl Johnston added: “We’re delighted that Kelly’s sensitive restoration will signal the start of the THI scheme by showing the owners of other eligible historic properties what is possible.
“We have been working behind the scenes for a long time to bring this particular project forward. Special thanks goes to our THI Project Board including our current social partner such as Paul Bunting and former board members Bob Harper and Robert Stewart for getting this across the line.”
Heritage Lottery Fund NI committee member Mukesh Sharma said: “Carrickfergus has a special and unique place in the industrial and built heritage of Northern Ireland and we are delighted to be able to support the partners in restoring properties of historic importance in the town’s conservation area such as the former Kelly’s coal office.
“It is thanks to players of the National Lottery that we can invest funding into townscape scale projects that make a huge difference to NI’s conservation towns and villages.
Mark Cobain, from Castle Seaview Development Ltd, co-owns the property: “Without the THI funding we could never have tackled the scale and quality of works needed. We also have plans to redevelop the wider coal yard site, but can’t wait to get stuck into the work in getting Kelly’s building back to its former glory.”