The old stables in Sion Mills has risen from the ashes of dereliction to reopen as a vibrant new facility housing a restaurant, exhibition area, heritage educational centre, gift shop and offices.
The iconic 19th century building had looked to be on its last legs but in 2008 the Department of the Environment (DoE), for the first time ever, used its vesting powers to acquire the property.
Complete with its decorated clock tower, Sion Stables would have once been a focal point for the whole of the Sion Mills village and in particular the mill workers on their way to the nearby Herdman’s linen mill.
It has now been transformed from a dangerous, structurally unsecure building without a proper roof, into a vibrant local hub.
The building now operates as a restaurant/tearoom, an exhibition area, heritage educational centre, gift shop and offices.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “This is a real boost for the people of Sion Mills and the North West. It shows what focused regeneration can do.
“Government using its powers to ensure an iconic historic 19th century building is secured, refurbished and becomes a 21st century community hub.
“Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander wrote her famous hymn, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ in Sion Mills and it is certainly very apt as far as the new Stables are concerned.
“My Department taking control of the Stables was only the first step on the road. In 2012, ownership of Sion Stables transferred from DOE to Hearth which in collaboration with Sion Mills Building Preservation Trust worked to secure the capital to begin the renovation regeneration process. It was fitting that DOE was able to provide £113,225 of grant assistance with the Heritage Lottery Fund providing much of the capital.
“The conservation and reuse of our built heritage is an important catalyst for enlivening our towns and villages. Sion Stables exemplifies the contribution our built heritage makes to village character and sense of place. It demonstrates how collaborative working between central government and charitable organisations can help to conserve buildings now and for future generations. I commend all involved and I encourage people to visit the Stables as often as possible.”