Northern Ireland

Funding boost for historic church at Carlisle Circus

The future of one of Belfast's most historic buildings has been secured.

Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church was built in 1875 but has lain derelict for the last 20 years.

The Department of Environment will now provide £400,000 towards the upkeep of the building.

In 2010, the World Monuments Fund recognised it as one of the 100 most endangered historic buildings in the world.

Other buildings on the World Monument Watch List include the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said it was a "hugely important landmark."

"This funding will help secure its future and, following its conservation and regeneration, will be a great opportunity to both revitalise and provide a significant economic boost for the area," he said.

"Carlisle Memorial is a jewel in our historical crown and after its conservation, it will have a great beneficial impact for the economy, tourism and for health and well being."

Designed in the Gothic Revival style and completed in 1875, the church was home to one of the largest Methodist congregations in Belfast.

The sandstone and limestone exterior of the building was renovated in 1966, but the church ceased to be used as a place of worship by 1982, a result of the declining congregation and its location at a major interface between Catholic and Protestant populations.

Previous plans to convert the church to public housing did not come to fruition and there has been extensive physical degradation to the building.

A spokesman for Belfast Building Preservation Trust said it was delighted to receive support from the Department of the Environment.

"The department's support is critical in stabilising and securing the building and allows us valuable time to work towards finding a vibrant and sustainable regeneration solution," said a spokesman.

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