by JULIE ANN SPENCE
DEBATE has begun on the future of one of Lisburn's most historic
buildings, Castle House.
Castle House, once the private residence of
philanthropist Sir Richard Wallace, has been the centre of
further education in Lisburn since it became the Municipal
Technical Institute in 1914.
However, once the rebuilding of the South
Eastern Regional College is completed in 2010, Castle House will
no longer be used by the college and Lisburn City Council is
keen to ensure the 19th century mansion house is retained and
have been examining ways in which it could be used.
One of the suggestions put forward by senior
managers to the council's Leisure Services Committee is that
Castle House could house a permanent exhibition in relation to
Sir Richard Wallace, highlighting his international significance
as a fine art collector and his relationship to Lisburn.
Another proposal is the relocation of Lisburn
Museum to Castle House, providing improved display and storage
of the Council's permanent collection.
This would leave the existing museum building
in Market Square to accommodate a revamped Irish Linen Centre
and 'Flax to Fabric' exhibition, as well as releasing areas of
the building for wider commercial use. A third suggestion is to
relocate the Island Arts Centre from its current home at the
Civic Centre to Castle House.
The relocation of the IAC would free up space
within the Civic Centre, which could be used as office
accommodation. The potential to create performance space and
restaurant/bar facilities at Castle House, in close proximity to
the Historic Quarter, could significantly assist the development
of a much needed night time economy in the city centre.
No decision has yet been taken and it could
be next year before any formal proposals are put forward. In the
meantime Councillors and officials are further examining the
future potential of this historic local landmark.