Details have emerged that The National Trust could be set to acquire the historic Causeway School. Details published on the Northern Ireland Charity Commission website ahead of a public consultation show that the current owners are seeking to transfer the building.
The school, which is located directly beside the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre, was opened in 1915. It was built by the Macnaghten family in memory of Lord Edward Macnaghten. The school is currently owned by a charitable trust controlled by members of the Macnaghten family.
The architect behind its design was Clough Williams-Ellis. Until the Causeway Memorial School was built, local children were taught in much more cramped conditions in what is now The Nook pub/restaurant or further along the coast at the old Lochaber School near Tonduff (now a barn).
The Causeway School operated as the local school until the early 1960s and then became a museum and living history experience for school children and members of the public.
In a statement to Causeway Coast Community, Regional Director Heather McLachlan of the National Trust said:
We recognise that the Causeway Memorial School is a very important and culturally significant building for the local community and we would be delighted to have an opportunity to care for such a special building and invest in its future.
The National Trust was approached by the Causeway Memorial School Trust (CMST) regarding responsibility for the premises which sits prominently in the landscape at the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site, adjacent to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre. The school, which is currently on a long-term lease to the Education Authority (previously known as North-Eastern Education and Library Board) has not been in use since 2013.
There have been ongoing discussions between CMST, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and the National Trust, as to the school’s future use. The proposed transfer to the National Trust would be delivered through a process called the Cy-Pres scheme, which would enable the National Trust to conserve the building and manage it for community and educational purposes.
If the transfer were made to the National Trust, we would be eager to work with the local community to establish a long-term vision for the school, to restore the building and ensure it is available for future generations to explore and enjoy, guided by the original aims of the CMST.