From Stronge’s Orchard to maritime tourist attraction: ‘It’s great to see old Army buildings in civic use’

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Derry’s new Maritime Museum inched further down the slipway towards launch this week when listed building consent was granted by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s planning committee.

The approval paves the way for Building 49 and Building 45/46 in Ebrington to be converted into a state-of-the-art gallery space, café, gift shop, tourist information point and customer toilets on the ground floor, a multi-purpose learning space and archive on the first floor, and office accommodation and staff facilities on the second floor.

The plans also propose an outdoor gallery between the new museum and the historic Star Fort Wall to the museum’s rear.

This will include an undulating pathway evoking the River Foyle, lined with museum artefacts such as artillery, and punctuated by interpretive panels, explaining Ebrington’s rich maritime history, and Derry’s role in major global conflicts such as the Battle of the Atlantic and the Cold War. It will also reference the area’s pre-martial origins when it was known as Stronge’s Orchard in the days before the Siege of Derry.

SDLP councillor, Gus Hastings, said: “It’s great to see these old Army buildings coming into civic use. Over the years it had very different connotations for the people who lived in Derry and the surrounding area.”

Sinn Féin councillor, Christopher Jackson, said: “The application is a welcome one, an exciting one, that will greatly improve the tourist offer in the city and district.”

DUP Alderman, Hilary McClintock, said: “I’m delighted to see it coming forward. It’s a very exciting regeneration project for the city, the Waterside and the whole district.”

A spokesperson for D&SDC said: “The overall budget for the project is £11.2m and work is progressing well on securing additional support with £4.9m of capital funding being channelled into the project - Council providing up to £2m, and Garfield Weston, UK and Canadian Branch £0.5m along with the HLF commitment.”