Enniskillen Workhouse back to the future

Enniskillen Workhouse back to the future
20
November, 2017
A major new project to transform the remaining Enniskillen Workhouse building into a business enterprise and heritage hub is one step closer after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded support to the initial* plans.

Development funding of £221,000 was awarded to help Fermanagh and Omagh District Council work up firm proposals for the project, which is being delivered in partnership with South West College, in order to secure the full £2.3m grant requested.

Announcing the award, Head of HLF Northern Ireland, Paul Mullan, said: “This exciting project will utilise this hugely significant building to create a better future for the people of Enniskillen and beyond, while being sympathetic to its previous existence. The project will create a state-of-the-art business development hub, providing opportunities for skills development, accredited training and apprenticeships in heritage skills throughout the restoration. The previously untold story of the workhouse and the people who were housed there will also be brought to life in the mixed-use exhibition and display space.

“Without this investment the building and its history would be in real danger of being lost, and it is thanks to National Lottery players that these plans can be progressed further”.

Enniskillen Workhouse opened in 1844 to accommodate 1000 people who, due to a range of circumstances, found themselves in financial distress. The building was one of 160 workhouses throughout Ireland designed by architect George Wilkinson. The main workhouse was demolished in 1964 and all that remains today is the Grade B2 listed Entrance Block, which is currently ‘at risk’ and in need of urgent repair.

The proposals will see the Entrance Block restored with approximately 480m2 of floor space brought back into use as a hub for business innovation and enterprise, while part of the building known as the Master’s Room will be redeveloped as mixed-use exhibition, reminiscence and display space. Here the surviving workhouse records and minute books will be displayed and used to tell the story of the workhouse and the people who were housed there for the first time. This space will be managed in conjunction with the HLF-supported Fermanagh County Museum.

Throughout the restoration works a dedicated heritage skills and education programme will enable more than 100 local craftspeople and contractors to benefit from accredited training, and 12 apprenticeships will be created.

Funding for the project was awarded through HLF’s Heritage Enterprise programme which provides grants of £100,000 to £5m to bridge the costs associated with returning neglected historic buildings back into commercial use. The popular Bishop’s Gate Hotel, Derry and recently opened Titanic Hotel, Belfast were both supported through this grant programme.

Councillor Stephen McCann, Chairman, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, said: "The -More- Council is delighted to be associated with this project and the funding from HLF will enable the preparatory work to be done in preparation for the next phase of the application. For many people in the area, the Workhouse is still a living reminder of times gone by which is in relative terms quite recent. It is important to highlight and remember this very important part of our shared history in a meaningful and respectful way."

Commenting on the announcement, Michael McAlister, Chief Executive of South West College said: “We are delighted that, in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, our Stage 1 application to the Heritage Enterprise fund has been successful. The Workhouse sits adjacent to the new Erne Campus development in Enniskillen and there is a strong synergy between these two projects in terms of skills and economic development in the region. The restoration of the Workhouse will create exciting opportunities for young people in Fermanagh to develop new skills in heritage restoration and follow new entrepreneurial career paths.” 

Further information please contact Julie Halliday at HLF Northern Ireland. M: 07733 100674 E: julieh@hlf.org.uk