Heritage hopefuls inspiring the next generation

From Belfast’s Bank Buildings to children’s schemes in Fermanagh, meet the Heritage Angel Award nominees for Best Contribution to a Heritage Project by Young People and Best Major Regeneration of a Historic Building or Place over £1 million

Craigavon Historical Society and Lurgan Townscape Heritage are Digging Deeper
Craigavon Historical Society and Lurgan Townscape Heritage are digging deeper

AMONGST the 18 nominees for this year’s Heritage Angel Awards are several projects aiming to help encourage and inspire the younger generation to get involved with the protection and preservation of historic buildings and places across Northern Ireland.

This is a defining characteristic of the awards which has been expressed by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber whose foundation co-sponsors them.

He says, “the aim of the awards is to inspire others to get involved and work together to save and protect Northern Ireland’s heritage for our future generations”.

It’s fair to say that we are currently living in a digital age where the closest many young people get to restoring a building is online through video games such as Minecraft.

However the Heritage Angel Awards not only hope to inspire the next generation but also commend those that already recognise the importance of preserving their built history and they do this through their Best Contribution to a Heritage Project by Young People award.

Best Contribution to a Heritage Project by Young People
Schools, children and families who participated in Lough Erne landscape partnership scheme

This intergenerational project set out to discover more about Fermanagh’s vernacular heritage and social history. Primary school children interviewed older relatives and neighbours to learn about what life was like during the first half of the twentieth century and the characteristics of some of Fermanagh’s rare and iconic buildings.

Craigavon Historical Society and Lurgan Townscape Heritage – Digging Deeper

Community archaeology digs took place over two years in a field near Lurgan known as Kilmocholmóg, translating as ‘church of my little Colman’. The society organised visits from primary school groups and young people from a vocational training centre took part in the dig over three days. Iron Age and medieval finds have been revealed, unravelling the mystery of Kilmocholmóg.

Lisnaskea Historical Society (special mention to Linda Swindle, Vicky Herbert and the late John Reihill)

The volunteers of Lisnaskea Historical Society have been nominated for their annual organisation of Old Tyme Market Day at the Corn Market Yard. Pupils dress in costumes and bring wares to sell at market, trading and bartering and performing music and entertainment. The market day gives children the opportunity to learn about their local heritage outside the classroom.

Best Major Regeneration of a Historic Building or Place over £1 million

Another way to inspire future generations to continue to protect NI’s heritage is to restore buildings and turn them into a ‘hot spot’ for people. For example, all the nominees for Best Major Regeneration of a Historic Building or Place over £1 million have taken a neglected site and restored or transformed it into a prominent social hub within their respective areas.

Kieran Gilmore and Alison Gordon, Open House Festival

Kieran and Alison led the regeneration of The Court House in Bangor which was a B2 listed former bank and courthouse which dates back to 1866 and on the At Risk register. The building achieved Northern Ireland’s first Community Asset Transfer in 2020. A crowdfunding campaign raised nearly £2m from local people and businesses, leveraging significant grant funding. It is Bangor’s only dedicated music and arts venue, hosting over 400 events in its first year.

McAdam Design & Consarc Design Group and Heron Bros Ltd – Templemore Baths, Belfast

Templemore Baths are the sole surviving Victorian public baths in Ireland and opened in 1893. In 2023 they were reopened following £17million Belfast City Council project. The baths combine heritage spaces with a modern leisure facility extension. The 130-year-old pool was restored to use, and a traditional skills academy was established. The team have engaged with the community throughout the project.

Joseph O’Connor, Head Of Construction – Primark Belfast

Most people will remember the Primark fire back in 2018 the whole building was engulfed in flames leaving only a burnt-out husk in its wake. I distinctly remember thinking there was no way the original structure could be saved. However, thanks to Joseph and a team of expert craftspeople the store was engineered to sit inside the old shell on new foundations which support the roof and cladding, preserving the Belfast landmark.

All of these nominees are eligible for the Public Vote Award with the winner being announced during the Heritage Angel Awards which take place on March 27. Voting and additional information can be found at