Another milestone was reached this week in the history of the Apprentice Boys, with the unofficial handing over the keys to the new Siege Museum.
The General Secretary, Billy Moore, accompanied by the Secretary, Worthington McGrath and Treasurer, Noel Moore, received the keys to the £3.7 million premises, on Society Street, from the Tracey Bros site manager, Charlie McKelvey.
The organisation has been working on the building project since 2000, but in the last 18 months things certainly speeded up for those intricately involved with the build.
The General Secretary said the project had moved forward rapidly in recent months.
“We are very very excited about new Siege Museum project. We are coming close to the opening day and we are keen to market our project to encourage people to come in through the front door whenever we are opened. So it is very exciting time for us now,” he said.
“A number of people played a very important role in the project, including those who helped us find the funding. Once we started building the museum and refurbishing the Memorial Hall, I believe we chose very good partners in Tracey Bros, who helped and assisted in every way.”
Site manager Charlie McKelvey said a lot of effort had gone into ensuring the building reflected the ethos of the ABOD and the building had been designed to incorporate key components and historic pieces.
“We have been here for 11 months and worked well with Billy and his partners on the project and I think everyone is pleased with the way the project has turned out.
“Walker’s statue was a challenge to get onto the second floor in one piece. We had to use a crane and make up a harness to lift it into position, which was done before the roof went on.”
Treasurer Noel Moore, thanked the project funders, saying: “We could not have achieved this ourselves. The total cost of the build was £3.7 million and without our funders there is no way we would have achieved the building we now have.”
Mr Moore said visitors would be able to get the full story of the Apprentice Boys and museum from the 105-day Siege of Derry.
“That will all be told within the museum and we look forward to people come in to learn about it,” he said.
Treasurer Worthington McGrath said it was important to retain the traditional Association of Apprentice Boys crimson colour scheme and create the thread of continuity throughout the museum.