Portaferry Derelict Property Gets Historic Panels Make-Over

Windows of the Past in Portaferry

Windows of the Past in Portaferry

Portaferry has again set a new direction in re-imaging of a derelict property on one of the main access routes into the town.  The project is a partnership between Portaferry & Strangford Trust (PAST), Portaferry Community Collective Ltd (PCCL) and Portaferry Regeneration Ltd (PRL). 

The aim was to create an Outdoor Exhibition Space to inform residents and tourists of some of the History of Shipbuilding in the area as well as to uniquely chart the life of a former resident and owner of the said building in the 19th Century, the Reverend John Orr.

Looking over one of the ground floor panels were (l-r) Mike Nesbitt, UUP MLA; Ards and North Down Borough DUP Councillor Eddie Thompson; Kellie Armstrong, Alliance MLA, with Allison Murphy, who wrote the historic information about Portaferry for the window panels.

Frances McCormick, Development Officer for the County Down Rural Community Network, said: “Information Panels detail the Rev John Orr who from 1822-1878 lived at 7 High St, Portaferry and for 53 years was the Minister of Portaferry Presbyterian Church. 

“He was a larger than life figure, an innovator and founder of such things as weekly collections in church, graveside orations,  the Penny Saving Bank and the Temperance Society in Portaferry… an unusual one that still permitted beer and wine!

“Following the Night of the Big Wind, which saw the roof the Church destroyed, Rev Orr in 1841 set about an ambitious project of building a new church, on a Greek classical design, on a grand scale. He raised every penny and supervised every detail of the building which was built in a year. Today it is known as the Portico.

This project was led by Portaferry & Strangford Trust who have been recording the local history of the town and run the Ropewalk Maritime Museum (opposite Exploris). It  gave them the opportunity to share their information on a wider basis with the local community. 

At the launch of the property facade makeover were (l-r) Frances McCormick, County Down Rural Community Network Development Officer; James Higginson, Proprietor of Captain Jack’s; Allison Murphy, Portaferry and Strangford Trust, who wrote the details for the information panels; James McDowell, Portaferry Presbyterian Church; and Maureen McCardy, Portaferry Regeneration Ltd.

Allison Murphy, who wrote the details for the information panels, said at the launch of the project: “This building highlights the affluence and grandeur of homes in Portaferry 200 years ago. 

“It is a testament to the shipbuilders who lived here and who, in a space of 20 years, built over 30 ships, one of which was the largest built in Ireland. 

“John Orr was a major part of that, having married into the McCleery shipbuilding merchant family. As he himself wrote: ‘In the mercantile Ireland of that day Portaferry was a name to be conjured with. Its ships were found on every sea, and the wind could blow from no point of the compass without bringing our sailors home.’

“We’d like to thank all those who attended the launch, local Councillors and MLAs and representatives of groups. 

“For providing funding towards the project can we thank the Ulster Scots Agency, Portaferry & Strangford Trust, Portaferry Community Collective Ltd, Portaferry Regeneration Ltd and Captain Jack’s Bistro who also instigated the project.

“Thanks to Kieran Trainor, a local Painter and Decorator, who painted the building and the Dynes Family for agreeing to allow the building to be re-imaged. 

“Final thanks go to Allison Murphy who researched and wrote the Information Panel Exhibition Material, bringing the history of Portaferry to life for future generations and creating Windows on the Past.”