Historic home of renowned Belfast builder to get new lease of life

Follow the Ormeau brick road: from left - Stephen Davey (Clonrose Developments dDirector), Michael McDonnell (Choice Housing chief executive) and Gareth Moore (H&J Martin construction director)

CLONROSE Developments has signed a development agreement with Choice Housing Ireland to deliver 42 new social housing units on the former H&J Martin builders' yard on the Ormeau Road.

The site, which was home to H&J Martin for the last 140 years, will provide seven new town houses, 32 general-needs apartments and three wheelchair-accessible apartments arranged around a central courtyard with dedicated parking.

And Clonrose has appointed H&J Martin, part of the Lagan Specialist Contracting Group owned by Michael Lagan and family, to deliver the construction of the development, known as ‘The Brickworks'.

H&J Martin established itself on the site in 1879 and grew to be the pre-eminent builder in Northern Ireland, constructing many of the city's landmark buildings such as the Belfast Telegraph in 1886, the Grand Opera House in 1895 and Belfast City Hall in 1898. The Slieve Donard Hotel and Ulster Museum also list among their achievements.

By the turn of the century, H&J Martin was the largest brick manufacturer in Ireland as owners of the Haypark Brickworks Company and The Model Brickworks Company both located on the Ormeau Road.

Known for the high quality of its clay deposits, the Ormeau Road and Annadale Embankment were home to seven large brickworks at the turn of the century including the Annadale Brickworks, J.F Newell Brickworks and The Prestige Brickworks, which at their peak combined, produced more than 120,000 units a day of what became known as the famous ‘Belfast brick'.

Stephen Davey, development director for Clonrose, said: “We're thrilled to enter into this partnership with Choice and H&J Martin to deliver what will be a unique development in this prominent location. It felt appropriate that H&J Martin should be the construction partner to deliver this scheme for us given this was their historic home for so many years.

“We intend to celebrate the history of the Ormeau Road with this development. In addition to calling it 'The Brickworks', we will use many of the salvaged bricks from the old builders yard in feature walls and pillars throughout the development as a nod to the areas heritage.”

Michael McDonnell, chief executive of Choice added: “This design and build partnership with Clonrose Developments and H&J Martin is testament to our ongoing commitment to addressing the need for quality social housing across Northern Ireland. Developing these partnerships is a key element of meeting the growing need.

“There is a high demand across Belfast and when sites like this one become available, it is imperative that social housing is a high priority. The location of this development will ensure tenants can avail of top-quality housing with many local amenities on their doorstep”.

Gareth Moore, construction director for H&J Martin, said “We were once the major employer in the Ormeau Area. Having also constructed the Holylands and Sunnyside Areas, it is fitting that, as we depart from our home on the Ormeau Road, we leave a final lasting legacy for the people there with the construction of a high-quality social housing scheme."

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