Situated in the village of Groomsport County Down on the Main Street, Groomsport Parish Church is a unique building. It was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon to the instructions of Colonel the Hon. John Waring Maxwell MP of Finnebrogue, Downpatrick and owner of Groomsport House. Built in 1842 it has evolved into a building which is unique in these Islands, what amounts to a miniature Cathedral.
During its 175 years of life, Groomsport Parish Church had been extended several times but had not received an overall refit until now. Some repair works had been carried out in the last fifty years but the fabric of the building was now in serious need of attention.
Back in October 2015, architect Ken Best of the Gordon McKnight Partnership, Bangor, produced a presentation on how he would aim to breathe new life into this old, damp, battered, but unique, beautiful and much-loved church building. Barry Greenaway, Groomsport Parish’s designated Project Manager, states how they echoed the views of Ken, stating – “The General and Select Vestries were unanimous: it had to be done for the sake of the Parish, Groomsport, Ulster’s heritage and above all our Christian faith.”
By dint of careful and skilful management by the Select Vestry, together with the generous support of parishioners and friends and a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, they have been able to finance a full external and internal refurbishment for which the main contractor was East Down Construction Co Ltd of Portaferry.
Over a period of seven months, the entire roof has been replaced, stonework has been repaired or replaced, windows refurbished and various fixtures replaced in keeping with the original. Internally, the walls have been damp proofed and the old heating pipes replaced with a modern gas-fired underfloor system. The church has been entirely re-wired with an appropriate lighting system installed and a complete redecoration was carried out to an impressive standard.
From the beginning, the main objective outlined by the Groomsport Church members was to maintain the sanctity, ethos and beauty of Groomsport Parish Church. This has been achieved by East Down Construction, and as a result a building with a long-standing tradition in the area has been preserved for future generations.
East Down Construction Co Ltd is an established family owned building contracting firm that has worked on several church and heritage projects in the past and is familiar with buildings of this nature.
Charles Coleman, of East Down Construction, outlined that the company’s ethos is to provide exactly what clients have in mind and add the company’s professional input to achieve the desired results. Together with a skilled workforce and competent sub- contractors, the company is satisfied with another successfully completed project.
Charles stated, “Ken Best, architect, along with Reverend Pollock, Barry Greenaway and those at Groomsport Parish worked well with us to complete this project, and we are happy to provide the craftsmanship to which the results are shown within the church.” With this project, East Down Construction Co Ltd has highlighted the company’s ability to deliver top class workmanship and has demonstrated why the company has built such a reputation for high standards and excellence.