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Riddel's Warehouse in Belfast: Take a look inside remarkable building ahead of restoration

Riddel's Warehouse in Belfast is abou

t to undergo priority repairs in order to be used for meanwhile uses before a more comprehensive restoration project takes place.

It's hoped that the prominent building will be regenerated into a thriving arts space in the heart of the city, and will play a pivotal role in helping the city centre's recovery.

The four-storey warehouse located on Ann Street is one of the most remarkable survivals from 19th century Belfast, and was originally built for ironmongers John Riddel & Co in 1867.

Despite closing in 1973, the warehouse hasn't changed very much since it was first built in the days when Riddel's imported ironmongery from England and Scotland and served retail ironmongers in Belfast and much further afield.

The warehouse served domestic customers from other premises in Donegall Place and Fountain Street, with the Ann Street location serving mainly agricultural customers.

The combination of a series of bomb attacks and the difficulty of operating within the security barricades around the centre of the city during The Troubles forced them to move elsewhere.

The building lay empty for several years until it was acquired by the police as a security measure. Part of the ground floor was used as a lost property office, with the installation of a ventilation plant to serve neighbouring buildings.

Otherwise, it was mothballed, therefore most of the building still carries the patina of many years in daily use as an ironmongery warehouse.

In recent years, the building has operated under meanwhile use and been used for arts-based activity including performances from local theatre groups.

Earlier this year it was announced that the building was purchased by Hearth Historic Buildings Trust who hope to transform it into a space catering for co-working and arts performances.

They argue that buildings such as Riddel's Warehouse have an important role to play in the recovery of the city centre, as such distinctive spots give people a reason to pay the area a visit, whether to learn more about their background or get to know what they're about amid regeneration.

The Belfast-based heritage group have provided an update on where they currently are with their plans to develop the warehouse, with Chair of Hearth Historic Buildings, Alastair Rankin, saying: "Hearth Historic Buildings Trust is due to carry out priority repairs to the warehouse soon, funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund, thanks to the Department for Communities’ Covid Recovery programme.

"These will allow the Trust to continue to accommodate meanwhile uses prior to securing capital funding for a more comprehensive restoration project.

"A robust business case, also funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund, supports the creation of co-working and performance spaces, and Hearth is keen to hear from groups who might be interested in using the building in both the short and the long-term, helping to form an important part of Belfast’s city centre revival.”

ByJane Corscadden

  • 17:22, 1 AUG 2021

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