Origins & History Of The Bushmills Trust
The origins of the Bushmills Trust go back to a community meeting in 1994 when a group was formed with a very specific objective, as recorded in the minutes, “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. An important additional benefit of the scheme would be assistance through the Department of the Environment for significant Environmental Improvement to the village.
The search at the time was for a site suitable as a Heritage Centre incorporating a tourist related retailer like Edinburgh Mills or Blarney Woollen Mills who were very interested in the project. With the town’s industrial heritage, with the Distillery tours then not operating at weekends and with the close proximity of the Giant’s Causeway the town seemed to have potential for such a project.
A number of sites were identified including the Market Square, Ballackmore Road close to the Railway terminus and part of what is now the Park & Ride Car Park. All were excluded for a number of reasons. Market Square was the ideal site but the group had to secure agreement from the many owners but were unable to ‘assemble’ the site at a realistic price.
It became apparent that the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) considered that there were now sufficient Heritage Centres in the country and had concerns about viability. A Youth Hostel for the town was proposed and again a site needed to be identified. By chance the Scotch House Bar and the adjacent house both cleared out their large rear gardens backing on to the new entrance to the Bushmills Inn to reveal quite a generous space. The public spirited owners (Trevor Cook of the Scotch House and Hugh Graham of the adjacent house) were contacted and eventually agreed to sell the House with the back garden and the back garden of the Scotch House alongside.
Architects Plans were drawn up by the Harbour Studio, for a 65 bed Youth Hostel and an adjacent retail unit. Planning Permission was sought and eventually secured.
Finance for the £1million project was sought from the IFI and a ‘cocktail’ of organisations including the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, a smaller grant from Moyle District Council and North Antrim Rural Action and finally a loan from the Bank of Ireland. Grants were eventually secured subject to conditions including the establishment of a limited company.
The Bushmills Trust was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee to advance the scheme and the company sought and secured charitable status.
Work on the Develoement commenced.
The ‘Mill Rest’ Youth Hostel opened on Valentines Day with a courtyard garden, a conference room and some novel bed rooms with ‘balcony’ beds being incorprated in the roof space. The adjacent Therapy Style Studio opened a few months later.
The Hostel is managed by the Youth Hostel Association Northern Ireland and Therapy Style Studio, a trendy fashion shop, was established by Pam McAlister.
On the completion of the Mill Rest Hostel and as part of the IFI CRISP scheme the Department of the Environment, in consultation with the Bushmills Trust undertook some £300,000 of Environmental Improvements in the villlage. This included new street lamps, telephone cables being put underground, street paving and furniture, planting beds and trees for the Diamond an Information Panel at the Park and Ride and a Comunity Notice Board.
With encouragement and financial assistance from the Distillery The Bushmills Trust started to organises both the existing and the new flower beds in the town, now numbering 17 (Moyle District Council maintain the barrels by the Park and Ride).
In response to one of the main objectives of the Village Plan to “improve information for visitors” The Bushmills Trust developed an information panel 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 at the Bushmills Distillery and the Giant’s Causeway.
Bushmills Trust at a meeting in September looked to the Bushmills Distillery to join with the Trust in a scheme to ‘disguise’ derelict buildings with artwork panels in the windows and doorways depicting traditional shop fronts, house windows and doors.
The content of the Information 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.
12,500 copies were printed and distributed with stands to all the business.
(Circulation has doubled since then and now is the most requested brochure at the Town’s Visitor Information Centre).
The Bushmills Trust joined with the Environmental Sub Group of the Village Forum in what became known as the Brighter Bushmills Project Group to address the problem of derelict buildings in Bushmills.
There are 3 stages
2012 Stage 1 Dereliction
17 vacant or derelict buildings were targeted on or adjacent to Main Street. Photographic/Artwork Panels were commissioned for the doors and windows and each building had the benefit of a ‘spruce up’.
2013 – 2014
Stage 2 Heritage Trail.
Incorporating Rest Stations, information panels, pedestrian fnger signs, wall plaques, street banners and a brochure.
The Gateway Project comisioned to see how the village can further develop as Park & Ride facilities not just to the Causeway but also for the proposed new visitors centre at Dunluce Castle and generally to whats required to make the village ‘fit for purpose’ as the gateway to the countrys only world heritage site.
Gateway Project incorporated into the 2020 Village Plan.
Brighter Bushmills Project Group asked to join the Steering Group for the 2020 Village Plan.
The River Bush
The Bushmills Trust
Board Of Directors
- Price McCONAGHY MBE
- Vice Chairman
- Martin MACLANE
- Company Secretary
- Kerrie LAVERTY
- Roy BOLTON
- Derwyn BREWSTER
- James MCAULEY
- Councilloe Robert McILROY
- Raymond McMULLAN
- Samuel THOMPSON
- Past Chairman
- Roy BOLTON
- Dr. Dennis HIGGINS
- George HARTIN
- Past Treasurer
- William GRAHAM
The River Bush