Portaferry Market House Is Restored

The much loved Portaferry Market House will reopen to the public after undergoing extensive renovation work.

The popular venue in the centre of the town will open its doors in time for Portaferry’s 50th Gala Week celebrations from 15 – 21 July 2017 giving residents and visitors the perfect opportunity to enjoy the space.

The historic Grade B1 listed building has received an impressive £350,000 scheme of repairs and refurbishment as part of Portaferry Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) – a £1.28million heritage led scheme administered by Portaferry Regeneration Ltd to regenerate buildings within the historic town centre of Portaferry.  The Market House project was joint funded by Ards and North Down Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Portaferry Market House opens for business: (from left to right): Graeme Bannister, Director of Community and Wellbeing for Ards and North Down Borough Council; Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Robert Adair; John Dumigan, Chair of Portaferry Regeneration Ltd; Paul Mullan, Heritage Lottery Fund.

The newly renovated building aesthetically enhances the character and appearance of the Market Square and provides a neutral space for residents and visitors to enjoy.It is expected that the project will also provide long-term benefits to the town by encouraging other tourism development.  .

Dating from mid-eighteenth century the Market House was originally commissioned and paid for by Andrew Savage. It is the earliest surviving public building in Portaferry and  was designed with a typical Irish market house plan form with an arcaded open-plan ground floor and hall or courthouse to the first floor. Originally the Market House held a market every Thursday.

Upstairs, meetings of the Portaferry Literary Society and the Portaferry Mechanics’ Institute took place.  The building was also used as a Manor Court and later, a petty session court.  Tea dances and concerts were popular in the central location.

In the nineteenth century, a daily reading room was opened as was Portaferry’s first bank, the penny bank.  Today, the Market House remains a central community hub that is currently used for various activities including meetings, fitness classes, arts and crafts classes, martial arts, sea scout’s activities, youth clubs, coffee mornings and the Gala week hub.

The refurbishment works have enhanced the buildings historical and architectural features whilst creating a more usable space for the community. Original features have been reinstated including the re-opening of the arched openings onto the Market Square.  Improvements to accessibility, building safety and performance have also been made to the building.

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Robert Adair, welcomed the improvements and said: “Ards and North Down Borough Council is committed to ensuring the borough’s towns and rural localities are prosperous, vibrant and attractive.

“Portaferry Townscape Heritage Initiative aims to increase the economic activity in the town by using the historic environment as a positive resource to safeguard and create employment opportunities, while improving the quality of life for the local community and visitors. The Market House is right at the centre of Portaferry and its refurbishment will make a significant impact to the core of the town.”

John Dumigan, Chair of Portaferry Regeneration Ltd., also commented and said: “I anticipate that the work will ‘kick start’ renovations of private property in the town and this will greatly benefit residents and visitors alike.  It will also complement Exploris, bringing more tourism-related businesses to the town increasing its visitor base”.

For booking enquiries please contact Community Halls booking team on:

0300 013 3333.