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Belfast's stunning Riddel's site to be reborn as heart of art world

The former Riddel's Warehouse in Belfast has been purchased by the Hearth Revolving Fund, which is now aiming to raise £2m-£3m to transform it into Northern Ireland's top gallery

An "at risk" historic building in Belfast city centre is to be transformed into an art gallery after being sold to a company which specialises in breathing life back into old properties.

Riddel's Warehouse in Ann Street was designed by Thomas Jackson & Son about 1865 for John Riddel & Co ironmongers.

For many years it was one of the largest ironmongery warehouses in Ireland, selling cast iron manufactured by its sister firm the Musgrave Iron Foundry until the firm moved away from Ann Street in the 1960s. The building was later acquired by the Police Authority for Northern Ireland but was mainly retained because its listed status prevented its demolition.

The building served as a store room and as a security 'buffer zone' for Musgrave Street police station in the height of the Troubles.

It was first marketed for sale in November 2013 and while the £500,000 sale concluded in March, the plans for the building have only now been released.

Hearth Revolving Fund has bought the building in order to restore the splendid Victorian facade, as well as restore and make the unique cast iron galleries and glazed atrium available to the public.

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