After more than 30 years, the old Market Yard in Coleraine may finally enjoy a new lease of life.
Many ideas about what to do with the space have been proposed over the years, the most recent of these was a proposal to build a Coleraine Museum. However this plan was scrapped by Coleraine Borough Council in 2012.
However, one local Councillor has brought the question of what to do with the Market Yard back to the spotlight and is calling for the establishment of an ‘attractive artisan market.
Speaking to Causeway Coast Community, Councillor William McCandless said “The legacy Coleraine Borough Council had plans to build a regional museum within the market yard at Lime St. Coleraine. Unfortunately the costs on this project spiralled to over £500K. Other consideration had been given to a library on this site. Unfortunately there was nothing to show for these two ventures.
Coleraine itself has been a town of significant firsts – the first known settlement in Ireland at Mountsandel and the first plantation town in Ulster. The town was famous for its linen manufacture and the famous Coleraine whiskey distilled adjacent to the market yard.
The distinctive walls and gatehouses of the Coleraine Market yard afford an imposing entrance dating back to 1828 and fortunately the walls are listed. We could have another first in creating an attractive artisan market on the North Coast.
I wish to see Coleraine back on the map in its former glory days and we need to work to improve it but not just with ” face lift ” initiatives. We need appealing attractions to increase the footfall in our town. This plan would be to extend the commercial heart of our town and would act in the spirit of rejuvenation in Coleraine.
I would our urge our Council officers to restore the Market yard to make it an attractive site and venue and put plans in place to hold a regular weekly artisan market specialising in high quality distinctive products and offering premier food produce.
Anyone who has visited St. George’s Market in Belfast knows what a success it is and the major tourist attraction it has become. The current monthly market in Coleraine has demonstrated that there is a demand here and I would wish to see the Market Yard restored with a view to building and improving on this and making Coleraine the premier destination for an artisan market in the North of the Province.
The site could also be utilised for additional car parking facility and Council outdoor activities.
After the success of local food and drink producers in the Great Taste Awards it is vital to build on this and provide an attractive venue to showcase their produce. Local producers such as Broighter Gold Limavady, North Coast Smokehouse Ballycastle, Broughgammons Ballycastle, Lacada Portrush, Glenballyeamon Eggs Cushendall, North Coast Smokehouses Sea Salt. The Market Yard could be restored to provide a suitable historic attractive venue.
I appreciate it will take an initial injection of capital but using it during the week as a car park will bring in revenue and we need to speculate on the potential we have with this historic asset which is currently just lying rotting away.”