Our Heritage

A landmark in the centre of Bangor for over 200 years, The Old Market House originally dates back to 1780. A plaque on the building reads:

“The building was erected in 1780 as a Markethouse, subsequently altered for use as a school and in 1895 enlarged and made more suitable for that purpose. In 1933 it was reconstructed and extended for use as a Town Hall and on the 5thday of September in that year was dedicated and opened by the Right Honourable Viscount Craigavon, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

The building is designed in a classical style with the front portion dating from the 1830’s when it was constructed as Bangor’s Market House. It is believed that this replaced an earlier building on the site.

 

A recent survey describes The Old Market House as:

“A landmark detached two storey listed building situated in a highly prominent position in the heart of Bangor town centre, the building is of traditional stone construction with a hipped roof over laid in natural slate. The exterior is rendered and painted with windows mainly timber framed single glazed units.

 The building also features one of the oldest working clocks in Bangor,originally made by Henry Knight in Birmingham and housed in the roof space on the top floor.

The story of The Old Market House is one of historical reinvention and adaptation; as the town of Bangor evolved and grew and its needs changed so too the building adapted to meet those needs. From 1860 onwards The Old Market House operated as the Ward Infant School and as the town’s Courthouse. In the 1880s the Bangor Musical Society organised concerts on the first floor demonstrating the building’s rich cultural significance.

It became the Town Hall in 1933 and then was sold to the Belfast Banking Company in 1952 when it became the Northern Bank (later Danske Bank). It remained as this until May 2019 when Danske Bank vacated the building and it subsequently lay dormant and derelict, exposed to vandalism and the elements.

The building was saved from an uncertain future when it was purchased by Kilcooley Women’s Centre in 2020 and, with the help of funders including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Ards and North Down Council, is now poised to be reinvented for the next phase of its existence as a community, heritage and business hub for the city.

News of the acquistion of the building in 2020 by Kilcooley Women’s Centre attracted a significant amount of attention, illustrating the cultural importance of the building and the desire to see it retained as a community asset.

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Opening the Old Market House in Bangor is not just about revitalising a historic landmark; it's about embracing our community's rich history and heritage. With the invaluable support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we're not only preserving the past but creating a vibrant future where stories come alive and memories are made.
Alison Blayney
CEO Kilcooley Womens Centre