Kelly’s coal offices to rise from ashes in historic restoration

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The iconic Kelly’s coal offices in Carrickfergus are set to relight the town centre as they get a makeover thanks to funding from the Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

Situated opposite Carrickfergus Castle, the building has been a local landmark for more than a century, but over time has fallen into disrepair.

The THI is an ambitious regeneration scheme for the town’s conservation area supported by a £1.7million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and £0.55million from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Working with a local property developer, THI grant funding will breathe new life into this well-known site to turn it into functional office space.

The building dates back to 1910 and was the office for the coal and shipping enterprises of prominent businessman, Charles Legg. The business was taken over in 1920 by John Kelly Ltd coal merchants and despite the office and coal yard closing decades ago, it is still affectionately known as Kelly’s.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor 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, Cllr Cheryl Johnston, said: “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.”

The refurbishment of the Kelly’s building is expected to be finished by next summer.

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