Schomberg House is a major development in east Belfast involving a large museum interpretive centre for the surrounding community.
The Orange Order is probably the largest Protestant fraternity in the world. The new centre is set in place to support the organisation by accommodating and displaying its large range of historic artefacts – some of them dating back to 1690 – for the public to view.
By promoting shared space and greater levels of reconciliation through education, the Orange Order hopes that greater mutual understanding will be encouraged between the communities in Northern Ireland.
The construction of the building commenced during March 2014, and is set to be finalised in February 2015. The main contractor for the project was TAL Ltd, a local firm in Belfast. Similarly, the architect that created the design concept for the developments was RPP Architects, again a local establishment.
The REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage) received £3.6 million from the EU’s PEACE III Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
The extension of Schomberg House will incorporate a museum, which will integrate a replica Orange Hall displaying the numerous artefacts and items relating to the history of the Orange community, from across the world. The new contemporary building will also incorporate a research facility and educational resources, accessible to schools, as well as cross-community visits.
Items on display in the new interpretative centre will include a letter written by King William III prior to his departure to Ireland in June 1690, and the Paymasters General’s book of payments to the Williamite army at the Battle of the Boyne. A second smaller facility is also being developed at Loughgall in County Armagh, where construction company Lowry Brothers is engaged as main contractor.
Speaking to Director of Services, Dr David Hume, Premier Construction wanted to find out a little more about the redevelopment.
David said: “It is quite an ambitious project. The new interpretative centre is about giving us the opportunity to reach out to the wider community and encourage people to come and see our archives and the extensive artefact collection which we hold.”
He added: “This project is very important to us as there is no facility like this. We have unique artefacts and it is important for our community to tell our story. Education, preservation and outreach are our key elements – educating schools and visitors, preserving the materials in the suitable museum conditions and reaching out to communities locally and worldwide.”