Sunday, 16 May 2021

Bushmills Miscellany

The Diamond, Bushmills, pre-1921

Bushmills in County Antrim is one of my favourite villages in Northern Ireland.

It stands on the River Bush, about two miles south of the Giant's Causeway, eight miles north-east of Coleraine, and almost sixty miles north by west of Belfast.

The Macnaghten Baronets, who lived at their seat, DUNDARAVE, were the landlords of Bushmills, and did much to improve the village.

It contains a commodious hotel, viz. the Bushmills Inn; and a large and well-known distillery.

The village used to have a court-house (the building remains); a small factory for spades and shovels, paper and flour mills.

The principal residences are Dundarave House, in its extensive demesne; BENVARDENBEARDIVILLE; and SEAPORT LODGE, in Portballintrae.

The following photographs were taken in 2014.

Former premises of Causeway Books

My first port-of-call was the former second-hand and antiquarian bookshop, which, alas, closed down in the autumn of 2013.

I always enjoyed a good browse here and looked forward to my visits.

The erstwhile proprietor had been good enough to suggest two other sources in the vicinity, one of which is in Society Street, Coleraine (almost opposite the parish church on the main street).

The owner's son, James, now owns the Coleraine shop.

The Old Courthouse in 2014

The former courthouse in Main Street, with its distinctive portico, was built in 1834 by the Macnaghten family, of Dundarave, to serve as a petty sessions court and as a symbol of authority in the area.

The building contained a courtroom and cells, with apartments above for the police.

It served as a petty session court well into the first half of the 20th century, when it became a private residence.


I have already mentioned the former National School of 1842, which has lain neglected and derelict for many years.

Bushmills National School in 2014

This fine old building is yearning for a sympathetic new owner to restore its fabric and historic character.

In March, 2014, the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment (DoE) served an Urgent Works Notice on the agent for the owner.

The old school is a listed building, built as part of a nationwide initiative launched in 1830 by Edwin Stanley, Chief Secretary for Ireland and later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The building is not watertight and is not well secured.

The DoE has tried repeatedly to encourage the owner to take steps to remedy the situation, to no avail.

The Northern Ireland Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan MLA, said:
“The serving of this Notice is a further tangible commitment by my Department to Bushmills’ rich heritage and builds on previous funding to tackle dereliction in Portrush and Portstewart. Our listed buildings are jewels from the past which we need to conserve for now and future generations.
Once gone they can never be brought back. Listed buildings attract much tourism and there is always the potential to develop this further by securing and preserving them. I am determined that we should do that and this Urgent Works Notice is an example of that determination.”
The school is regarded as a dignified and well proportioned building of two storeys.

The front elevation has a central projection which is carried up to a pediment and has a distinctive use of a double chimney as a terminating feature.

Built in random rubble with the quoins, hood mouldings, cornice, chimneys and ornamental details all in dressed stone, the building has a pleasing civic quality and could make a valuable contribution to the town if brought back into use.

I wonder who actually owns this building?

First published in June, 2014.

No comments :