With the refurbishment of Chandlers House Music will be a key feature, having already hosted a performance of all those taking guitar lessons last term. Film Hub NI has already visited the premises and reached agreement in helping us to provide film screenings in our Community. On the Music front all tastes will be catered for and music genres will include Folk, Traditional, Bluegrass, Old Tyme, Blues, Americana & Cajun.
Former bank building to be restored into community space
Chandler’s House was originally a pair of mid-19th-century dwellings, remodeled at the beginning of the 20th century to form both a bank and a manager’s house. A soap and candle-making factory existed on the site in the late 18th century, which gives the project its name. The buildings are situated on the square in the middle of Rathfriland, a large hilltop village, located in an area often referred to as the gateway to the Mourne Mountains. Rathfriland has experienced a significant decline in recent years and is in the lower third of Super Output Areas, ranking particularly low in respect of income deprivation and access to services.
This project was identified by the NI Support Officer as the fourth and final candidate for the Village Catalyst pilot program – the result of an innovative partnership between the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division, supported by AHF. The pilot has sought to tackle rural poverty and social isolation and re-use historic buildings in the process.
Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company were established in 1994 to promote urban and rural regeneration for the benefit of the public in areas of social and economic deprivation, through the creation of training and employment opportunities, and the provision of housing for those who are in conditions of need. During the Covid crisis, the group packed up potatoes and other local farm produce in the banking hall and distributed food and vouchers among those in need in the community. They will be using Chandler’s House for a range of community activities, with a focus on music on the ground floor, and affordable housing units above, bringing life back to the heart of the village.
An AHF Project Development Grant supported the refinement of the group’s business plan and architectural planning work, enabling it to apply for Village Catalyst funding. The project subsequently secured a Capital Works Grant made possible through exceptional funding from the Department for Communities and their Covid-19 Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Programme, as well as support from Newry and Mourne District Council, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Ulster Garden Villages and private investment via Social Investment Tax Relief. The project is currently on site and due to completed in March 2022.