The River Bush
The Bushmills Trust was established in 2000 to develop a 65 bed Youth Hostel with an adjacent retail unit as its core economically viable project. In addition to attracting additional visitors to the village the hostel was to generate revenue which would help advance the Trusts prime objectives.
Much of the funds for the Hostel came through the International Fund for Ireland and incorporated some £300,000 for Environmental Improvements to the village jointly administerd by the Department of the Environment and the Bushmills Trust. The Trust continues to administer most of the village planting beds the ‘Bushmils in Bloom’ Project.
Marketing of the village have been advanced with the Trust developing and regularly updating both the village ‘Your Guide’ brochure and also the display panels in the village, ‘Old Bushmills’ Distillery and the Giant’s Causeway.
The project is a series of physical elements designed to dramatically improve the streetscape of Bushmills and portray and promote the local culture and heritage of the village. The Project is a joint venture between the Bushmills Village Forum, the overarching group co-ordinating many village organisations, the Bushmills Trust, who secured the funding and administer the project, and the people of Bushmills.
Brighter Bushmills: Shoe Shop
Mill Rest Youth Hostel
The Bushmills Trust was established in 2000 but its genesis was in 1994 when a group was formed specifically to “receive funds for the regeneration of Bushmills”. Bushmills was eligible at the time for assistance under an International Fund for Ireland CRISP (Community Regeneration Improvement Special Programme) scheme if it could find a site and convince the funders that it could establish and maintain a commercially viable project
The original idea was for a for a Heritage Centre but the group were not able to ‘assemble’ a suitable site and eventually a youth hostel / budget accommodation was seen as a likely opportunity. A Business Plan was prepared and a ‘cocktail’ of grants and a bank loan were eventually secured for a 65 bed hostel with an adjacent retail unit costing over £1 million. The prime condition for the grant was establishment of a limited company – The Bushmills Trust, incorporated in 2000. The Core Project ‘process’ is covered in more detail under ‘History’
The Hostel, managed by Hostelling International Northern Ireland opened on Valentine’s Day 2002.
The award winning Mill Rest Youth Hostel is located in the centre of Bushmills on the majestic North Antrim Coast. This purpose built modern hostel has spacious, comfortable en-suite bedrooms in a range of sizes. The mezzanine style layout is a distinctive feature and the attached walled garden is an ideal place to relax or to have a summer barbeque.
Bushmills is best known for its world famous whiskey and the Old Bushmills Distillery is situated just 5 minutes walk from the hostel. The Giants Causeway, a world heritage site, is just 2 miles away and regular bus services are available. Free coach car parking is also located nearly opposite the hostel.
The Mill Rest was awarded the Hostelling International Quality award in November 2010 which means they are committed to offering a high standard of excellence.
The River Bush
Therapy Style Studio
The core project included a retail outlet alongside the Youth Hostel. Therapy Style Studio opened a few months later than the hostel and since opening have enjoyed a devoted following.
Therapy brought a little bit of city life to the village by offering its style conscious customers cutting edge brands from around the world.
With a vast selection of denims to flatter any figure, Therapy prides itself on stocking brands with a point of difference while providing exceptional customer attention and service.
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Therapy Style Studio
When the Bushmills Trust secured a grant primarily through the International Fund for Ireland a secondary but very important aspect of the grant was additional funds for Environmental Improvements to the village – promoting the Trusts core objective:-
“Making Bushmills a more attractive place to live, work and visit by promoting both regeneration and conservation.“
The improvements were jointly undertaken by the Department of the Environment in consultation with The Bushmills Trust in 2003, 2004 and finally in 2008. Improvements included 10 flower beds, trees at the Diamond, traditional style lamp posts for Main Street, overhead telephone cable moving underground, street furniture and new street paving.
The Diamond, Bushmills
Bushmills In Bloom
With encouragement and financial backing from the Bushmills Distillery the Trust, in 2008, started to organises most of the existing and all the new flower beds developed as part of the Environmental Improvements programme. Moyle District Council maintain the planting barrels at the entrance to the Park & Ride while the summer and winter planting of most of the17 flower beds are administered by the Bushmills Trust. Planting is undertaken by Drew Dobbin of Brooks Nursery,
Bushmills In Bloom
Information Panels & Brochure
In response to one of the main objectives of the Village Plan to “improve information for visitors” The Bushmills Trust developed an information panel in 2009 at the entrance to the Park & Ride. The panel included a history of the village, an illustrated map showing the mills and village in 1902 and listed with map reference all activities, places of interest, accommodation, restaurants, bars and shops within 3 miles of Bushmills, Portballintrae and the Giants Causeway The information panel at Park and Ride was replicated the following year at the Bushmills Distillery and the Giant’s Causeway.
In 2011 the content of the panels were incorporated into a brochure “Your Guide” -Bushmills, Giant’s Causeway & Portballintrae”. Research, graphic design and regular updates were undertaken by members of the Bushmills Trust with advertising for the Distillery Tour generously covering the print cost. The brochure today is by far the most popular brochure at the Visitor Information Centre.
The panels and brochure are presently (2014) being incorporated with the Heritage Trail, part of the Brighter Bushmills Project, with an illustrated map and imaginative visuals developed by James Battersby Illustrations.
The Bushmills Distillery
Brighter Bushmills Project
In September 2010, The Bushmills Trust approached the Bushmills Distillery hoping for financial support for an imaginative scheme to ‘disguise’ vacant buildings in the village with artwork panels depicting traditional shop fronts, windows and doors.
The following year the Environment Group of the Village Forum, the overarching group co-ordinating many village organisations, determined on a similar venture and in April the Bushmills Trust joined with the Environment Group in what became known as the Brighter Bushmills Project.
Project Overview and Administration
The project is a series of physical elements designed to dramatically improve the streetscape of Bushmills and portray and promote the local culture and heritage of the village. The project has been developed in stages:
‘Treatment’ of Vacant or Derelict Buildings
Concentrated on derelict or vacant buildings with Photographic/Artwork Panels being placed in the openings of 17 buildings in or directly off Main Street.
The Heritage Trail
Incorporating Rest Stations, information panels, pedestrian fnger signs, wall plaques, street banners and a brochure.
The Gateway Project
Presently (Summer 2014) at concept stage. The objective is to see how Bushmills can further benefit from close proximity and being the hub between the Distillery, Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle.
The primary objective of Stage 1 was encouraging visitors passing through Bushmills to stop while Stage 2 is encouraging visitors who have stopped to explore the whole village, shop, take refreshments, stay over and spend quality time in the area.
Stage 1: ‘Treatment’ of Vacant Buildings
The Brighter Bushmills Project Group developed concept ideas for the artwork panels which were meticulously developed by artists Helene Byrne and Louie Winward through workshops with the local community and specifically young people. 17 building were targeted in or directly off Main Street.
Free standing display panels were created for windows in disused shops bringing to life the history of Bushmills with photographs and word.
The project was considered a great success both by residents and visitors and has been emulated in other towns across Northern Ireland. Attention to detail and the imaginative development of the concepts have also been internationally acclaimed in the world’s press and reproductions of the panels can even be found on the streets of Silver Springs 10 miles from Washington DC.
PROJECT COSTS and SOURCE of FINANCE
The total cost of the project was some £35,000 including VAT. 75% of “grant eligible” costs were funded by the Rural Development Programme and 25% by the Housing Executive. The essential but non grant eligible works (and VAT which was not reclaimable) were financed directly by The Bushmills Trust (£10,000) and the Old Bushmills Distillery (£4,000).
Stage 2: The Heritage Trail
The Trail connects the Distillery at the South end of the village and the Park & Ride to the Giant’s Causeway at the North with the Millennium Park, the River Bush and the Klondyke / Priestland Road. The trail comprises:-
With bench seating and information panels Rest Stations have been established at the Park & Ride, the Millennium Park and an Information Panel installed by the newly developed park at Hamill Terrace close to the Distillery.
Village Guide Brochure
The Heritage Map has been adapted for the Village Guide brochure and retains all the visitor related listings with grid references indicating their location. The Brochure includes a brief history of the village with photographs.
Strategically placed Pedestrian Finger Signs, white on black reflecting the Conservation Area status of the village, are the most visual indicator of the Heritage Route.
At each location there is an oval plaque indicating the history of the building and all displaying a QR code. With smartphones picking up the QR codes users can find out much more about the history of the building or sculpture and are able to see images – some with photographs of the building or street from the late 19th century.
James Battersby Illustrations were commissioned to develop an Illustrated Heritage Map and the artwork is truly original and imaginative. The Illustrated Map in relief is supported by images of many of the buildings and sculptures of historic interest and all with brief descriptions. The original ‘Your Guide’ Information Board pioneered by the Bushmills Trust and incorporating all activities, places to stay, shops, restaurants and bars has been incorporated with the new Heritage Trail artwork.
Wind resistant brackets have been installed on the lamp posts of Main Street to support banners. The banner content and images were developed by the artist Ross Wilson with workshops, involving the youth of the village, around various themes rooted in the histories, stories and heritage of the village and Ulster generally.
PROJECT COSTS and SOURCE of FINANCE
The total cost for Stage 2 was some £70,000 including VAT (which was not reclaimable). The Rural Development Programme contributed £45,000; Moyle District Council £20,000 and Ulster Garden Villages £5.000 with administrative costs, incidentals and a small overspend covered by the Bushmills Trust.
Stage 3: The Gateway Project
The next stage of the Brighter Bushmills Project is exploring the opportunities for Bushmills to further develop Park and Ride facilities and be the Gateway not just to the Distillery and the Giant’s Causeway but also to Dunluce Castle, only 2 miles away, with excavations alongside now revealing a long lost village. There are also opportunities for having the Park & Ride as the main parking for cars with Coaches primarily at the Causeway.
The study by landscape architects MWA Partnership is currently (Summer 2014) underway with the initial cost of £5,000 being financed equally by The Bushmills Trust and the National Trust.
The River Bush
The Village Guide
The new Village Guide (2014) incorporates the Heritage Trail with the original Bushmills “Your Guide” which listed with map references all activities, places of interest, cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and accommodation in and around Bushmills, the Giant’s Causeway and Portballintrae.
This web version includes the illustrated orientation map and the story of Bushmills. It also lists all the places of interest, shops bars etc as in the brochure and the idea is to develop this web Guide from just a list to a more descriptive version with images.