Hopes to transform former bank building in Maghera

Maghera Heritage and Cultural Centre has plans to acquire the Ulster Bank building in the town which is earmarked for closure this month.

Members of the centre would like Ulster Bank - which has been in the town for 150 years - to donate the premises to the town.Since its inception in 2015, the Centre has provided the community with a welcoming space in which the inhabitants of the local area can meet, socialise and expand their historical knowledge and general interests.Currently, the centre boasts a men’s shed, ladies craft room, a reception area decked out with historical artefacts, an exhibition gallery, research library, genealogy research team and many other supporting facilities for social interaction, recreation and leisure time activities. An on-going project in the Centre is the collection of oral memories relating to the areaPlans are currently in place to develop the first floor into a function suite and performing arts studio.Due to rapid expansion, the centre require additional space to help develop facilities for its future plans to introduce an art gallery, small museum and genealogy research facilities.A spokesperson for the centre said: “The bank is a Listed B+ Building and would be ideal for the development of our plans.“The Ulster Bank, as it stands, was designed by Thomas Jackson, in 1866 for The Ulster Banking Company and was built the following year.“Later it opened its doors as a bank for the Maghera community, offering a wide range of much needed and appreciated banking facilities.“It is an established building and noteworthy landmark in the town and its imminent closure has come as a great shock to the locals and customers from the greater area.”A group has been formed by the people of the town to lobby for the retention of the B+ Listed building.They would like it transformed into an art gallery for local artists; a small museum to display old artefacts from the linen and farming industries during the 150 years of the Bank’s presence in the town; and a genealogy research facility for the descendants of those unfortunate forefathers who had to emigrate to other parts of the world to find a more satisfactory way of life.Representatives from the centre, Mr James Armour and Dr Conleth McCloskey, passionately believe that these initiatives, should their hopes to acquire Ulster Bank Ulster Bank and Maghera Heritage Centre 1 Building be realised, will embrace and enhance social cohesion amongst the various strands of Northern Ireland’s diverse society and culture.“Ideally, the group is of the opinion that the Ulster Bank should donate the building to the town through MHS Heritage and Culture as a gesture of good will to the people and the greater community who supported the Ulster Bank in Maghera over the past 150 years,” the spokesperson continued.“Representatives of MHS Heritage and Culture would like to thank the people of Maghera for showing support to the organisation for their hopeful acquisition of the Ulster Bank building.”

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The Ulster Bank building in Maghera which a local community group hopes to acquire. Pic: GoogleThe Ulster Bank building in Maghera which a local community group hopes to acquire. Pic: Google
The Ulster Bank building in Maghera which a local community group hopes to acquire. Pic: Google