New lease of life for Glenarm’s Seaview hall

Members of Glenarm Building Preservation Society and guests at the official opening of the new Tourist Centre and hall in the Village. INLT 34-219-AM

Members of Glenarm Building Preservation Society and guests at the official opening of the new Tourist Centre and hall in the Village. INLT 34-219-AM

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Long-held plans to breathe new life into a once-derelict building have been realised, with the official unveiling of Seaview Old School.

The innovative regeneration scheme, spearheaded by Glenarm Buildings Preservation Trust (GBPT), transformed the 127-year-old former primary school on the Coast Road into a thriving visitor attraction and tourist activity centre.

The grand opening of the eagerly-awaited facility took place on Tuesday, as guests finally got the opportunity to see the fruits of the extensive refurbishment.

The work, which began in July 2014 and was completed in April 2015, restored many of the architectural features of the original school built in 1888, while creating purpose-built facilities to service private and voluntary sectors.

The building now houses a new Visitor Information Centre, while also providing new base for long-established Glenarm business, Steensons Jewellery Workshop.

The lion’s share of funding (£265,000) for the project came from the UK-wide Coastal Communities Fund, with a number of other groups and organisations providing financial support, including the former Larne Borough Council, Tourism NI, Ulster Garden Villages, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Architectural Heritage Fund.

A spokesperson for GBPT said: “The regeneration of Seaview has been long in its formation, refined a number of times in response to community needs.

“This project finally delivers a building which retains for Glenarm a specialist craft employer and tourist attraction, with a visitor information centre and new coach, car and cycle parking directly along the Coast Road.

“Since June, visitors have been welcomed from India, Barbados, Argentina, Iraq as well as the more traditional Europeans, Australians, Canadians and Americans. 

“An increase in footfall in the village has brought more business, and the trustees are very grateful to the many volunteers who support them in welcoming visitors to Glenarm.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is to provide funding to help fit out the visitor centre, allowing GBPT to offer a range of indoor and outdoor visitor activities, such as exhibitions, lectures, special collections and guided walks.