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Restoration of Crumlin Road Gaol

17 September, 2007


A major restoration programme at Crumlin Road Gaol along with plans to open the Gaol to tourists and visitors was unveiled today.

£1million has been invested in improvements that include weather-proofing, health & safety repairs and restoration work. The façade of the Gaol has also been transformed, with security walls and fencing removed and the railings and main gates repaired.

Sinn Féin Minister Gerry Kelly, speaking on behalf of the Office of the First Minister and the deputy First Minister, welcomed the visible changes.

He said:

"I am delighted to take part in this milestone event at the Crumlin Road Gaol, marking the continuing improvement of the building and the surrounding area. I commend my Executive colleague Margaret Ritchie for working with key stakeholders, to progress the important regeneration of this site."

The Minister also welcomed the forthcoming production of Macbeth being staged at the Gaol as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen's.

The Gaol will close again for essential repairs and restoration after Christmas 2007.

Welcoming the proposed opening of the Gaol to visitors, Minister Gerry Kelly said:

"The pilot access scheme will see the opening of the former Gaol to visitors who have an interest in its history and its future."

"It is particularly pleasing to meet today so many of the people I have worked with over the years and who have contributed to the planning for the future of the combined Crumlin Road/Girdwood site.

"The opportunities offered by this site are considerable, and it is well worth taking the time to test proposals and plans thoroughly, to make sure that our joint stewardship of this site delivers the best possible social and economic outcomes for all of the people who live in the surrounding area and indeed wider afield."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. The Crumlin Road Gaol was transferred to OFM/dFM in August 2003 under the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative. The site of the former Girdwood Army Barracks was transferred to DSD in April 2006.
  2. The two sites comprise some 27 acres providing a unique opportunity to regenerate one of the most disadvantaged parts of Belfast.
  3. The combined site is currently the subject of a masterplanning process.
  4. Forthcoming guided tours of the Gaol will be available for a limited time only on Thursdays and Saturdays from 20th September through to 15th December 2007.
  5. From Tuesday 18 September 2007, Admission to the Gaol will be by prior booking only through the Belfast Welcome Centre at 47 Donegall Place, Belfast - Tel: (028) 9024 6609, Email:[email protected]
  6. Replay Productions and the Old Museum Arts Centre, in association with Telereal and the Belfast Festival at Queen's, will stage a production of Macbeth at the Gaol from 17th October to 3rd November. Ticket information can be obtained from Old Museum Arts Centre (OMAC) - Tel: (028) 9023 3332 or from the Belfast Festival at Queen's Box Office - Tel: (028) 9097 1197.
  7. As the Gaol is still undergoing major renovation work, visitors with any special access requirements should contact the Welcome Centre or OMAC to discuss how these could be accommodated.
  8. Suitable footwear and warm clothing are recommended.
  9. The programme of repairs and restoration has opened up the front of the Gaol with removal of all extraneous security structures, restoration of the existing cast iron railings, repairs to damaged masonry, the use of appropriate lighting and a range of hard and soft landscaping.
  10. The repair programme also included further repairs to the roof of the Gaol, holding repairs to roof lights and spouting, asbestos removal, health and safety enhancements and improvements to access areas on the site and restoration of the hanging cell area of the Gaol.

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