Operators in talks about ‘reopening’ Barry’s Amusements site in Portush

A range of entertainment and leisure operators are in talks with the new owner of Barry’s in Portrush with a view to reopening the site as an entertainment complex.

Richard McCaig, director of Osborne King Commercial Property Consultants in Belfast, confirmed they are acting for the new owner.

It is understood that wealthy property developer and former Kentucky Fried Chicken magnate, Michael Herbert, bought the business in August.

It was widely assumed that Mr Herbert would redevelop the site, but Mr McCaig said he has been instructed to put the property on the market for lease.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/05/2021 The owners of Barry's Amusements have said the Portrush attraction will not reopen until the ongoing sales process has concluded, with the site now being on the market as 'a development opportunity.' A feasibility study by Savills site could be developed for several uses, including a 120-bed hotel, 23 residential dwellings or a combination of both, in addition to leisure and recreational facilities. The 2.23 acre site has been been placed on the market with a guide price of £2.75 million. The Trufelli family announced in October 2019 that Barry's was to be put up for sale after 93 years. The famous attraction was to stay open during the sales process. However, the start of Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 meant the business never opened for the year's season.

He told the News Letter: “We had a private client who bought the complex recently, since then people have contacted us and have said they would consider doing something in terms of operating from the site.

“On that basis we have been asked to try and find a tenant and that might be short, medium or long term depending on what works for them.”

The agent which sold the property did so with a number of proposed schemes but no specific planning permission.

“A lot of people assumed the property would be redeveloped but my instructions are very clear,” Mr McCaig said.

Barry's Portrush in May last year.

“There are established entertainment and leisure operators there who are interested in operating from the site and we are going to explore that fully.

“Established operators are having conversations with us about reopening Barry’s in some form. They are certainly enquiring about the opportunity and discussing how they might take that forward.”

He declined to be drawn on how many parties had shown an interest but said “a number” of established leisure and entertainment operators have made contact.

“There are some from within Northern Ireland and some from outside,” he added.

Asked if they were all in the “funfair type of business” he replied: “The majority are in that type of leisure and entertainment side of things, yes.

“We are just putting the opportunity out there to the market. And if somebody thinks they can come up with a viable solution for that we are happy to talk to them.”

However redevelopment has not been ruled out at a later date.

“It still is an option, but if you are wanting to come in and operate from that site for the long term there is investment that is going to be made and people are not just going to make that investment if it is only a short term solution,” he added. “So we are happy to look at short, medium and long term solutions for somebody to lease the site from us.”

Crowds enjoy Barry's in Portrush in earlier times.

UUP Alderman Norman Hillis said he was “quite surprised” by the development, but added that it is “good news”.

He added: “There is nothing I would like more than Barry’s operating again in the future because I really thought it would just end up as apartments.”

He suggested that any tenant would not take the site on for only two or three years.

“I can well envisage that if someone wants to try and get planning permission for the site it could take some years to do so. But even in the short or medium term it would be a plus if Barry’s was to open again in some form.”

The 2.22 acres site includes around 31,500 sq ft of buildings located in the heart of Portrush.

Barry’s was opened over 90 years ago in 1926 by the Trufelli family and was widely recognised as Northern Ireland’s largest and longest-running amusement park.

Dodgem racing was a thrill for kids and parents at Barry's Amusements in Portrush in July 1981. Picture: Randall Mulligan/News Letter archives

On September 6, the Trufelli family confirmed that the Barry’s property had been sold and the business was set to close.  

The equipment is the property of the former owners and does not form part of any leasing agreement.


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Screams of excitement as the mini-dipper rushes around the track at Barry's in Portrush. Picture: Randall Mulligan/News Letter archives.
Barry's Amusements in Portrush had been the venue for countless happy family holiday memories. Photo: Pacemaker.