Brand-new facilities at QUB's Riddel Hall open to students and staff
26 September 2023
7 July 2023
We are pleased to have received planning approval from Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council’s Planning Committee for a new mixed use development at Gilford Mill in Banbridge.
Gilford Mill first opened in the mid-19th century as Ireland was fast on its way to becoming a leading linen producer, with Ulster as a province home to a high concentration of linen mills.
Circa 1834, Hugh Dunbar established a mill in Gilford, close to Banbridge in County Down. The complex which can be seen today was completed in November 1841. The mill was the largest manufacturing enterprise in the area and contributed greatly to the development of Gilford Village by providing 138 houses, several schools and churches. The large water wheels and turbine were powered by the mill pond, which was fed by the River Bann. It was described in 1846 by an inspector as one of the largest mills in Ireland, at that stage employing over 1,500 local people.
However, as the linen industry slowly declined over the coming decades, the mill closed its doors in 1986 after 145 years of production and has remained vacant since.
Almost three decades later, Gilford Mill will receive a new lease of life through this mixed use development, which will involve the conversion and extension of existing buildings across the 3.89-hectare site. The £6 million project includes provisions for apartments, a garden centre, a children’s activity centre and a restaurant. While complete with modern amenities, uses and design features, the heritage of the listed mill is strongly preserved in the development which respects and reflects the character, architectural interest and setting of the existing mill buildings. The brick chimney and heavy masonry walls of the original wall are to be retained, and any intended works are to be in keeping with the existing fabric and sympathetic materials used so all new interventions integrate in a suitable manner. For example, the materials palette for the new core of the development is intended to be sympathetic with the mill's industrial heritage, making use of corrugated metal and translucent polycarbonate panels for stairways and untreated larch cladding to the entrance areas.
We are thrilled to have been part of such a unique and multi-faceted project and look forward to the 'new' Gilford Mill opening in the near future.