Historic building restoration opens the gate to further
tourism opportunities in historic walled city…
The opening, in March this year, of the Bishop’s Gate Hotel in Derry-Londonderry is an exemplar project in the restoration and refurbishment of an important listed building that might otherwise have been left to deteriorate beyond repair.
The project also displayed a high level of local pride, with the main contractor, Conway Builders Ltd, a Derry-based company that was proud to be involved in restoring such an important building .
The multi-million pound hotel development involved the complete restoration and refurbishment of the iconic Northern Counties building in Bishop Street, along with adjacent properties in London Street.
The building had fallen into serious disrepair and was in danger of being lost forever. However, thanks to the Inner City Buildings Preservation Trust (ICBPT), the historic buildings restoration arm of the Inner City Trust Group, its rich heritage has not only been preserved, but is now enjoying a renaissance in its reincarnation as the Bishop’s Gate Hotel.
The hotel development is the latest project of the ICBPT, and involved the purchase of nearby buildings in London Street, and incorporating them into the new complex to maintain the historic streetscape.
One of the key challenges faced by main contractor, Conway Builders, was how to integrate the unique decorative features of a 19th Century gentlemen’s club into a modern hotel environment.
Director, Declan Conway, and his team took great pride in the whole restoration project, utilising a blend of skills from specialist sub-contractors to ensure the work was carried out to the highest standards.
The highly positive comments that the restored building has received since opening earlier this year bear testament to a job well done.
“Most of the building’s original features, including the sweeping staircase, the revolving door, inglenook fireplace, the decorative panelling and plaster mouldings have been retained or restored,” said Declan. “Some of the work was quite intricate and obviously much more challenging than a new build. But we have a lot of experience in this kind of specialism and our team is very skilled at what they do, as are the sub-contractors who came on board too.”
The 31-bed hotel will help regenerate and reinvigorate the city and, with its luxury accommodation and services, has been hailed as an important addition to its tourism offering. The restoration of Bishop’s Gate Hotel also supported the local economy.
Over 130 people, including sub-contractors and six trainees, were employed during the construction and fitting out phases of the project. In keeping with the Trust’s ethos of supporting the local economy, indigenous manufacturers and suppliers were used, creating a significant multiplier effect.
BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
Based in the North West since the 1940s, Conway Builders has built up a strong reputation for its dedication to high standards of workmanship. The company has been involved in many impressive projects across Northern Ireland, and is particularly well-known in the North West for its work in the restoration of old church buildings. However, the team from Conway is also right up-to-date with the latest ecclesiastical projects too and is also well established in other areas, carrying out work in the commercial, industrial and housing sectors.
“We enjoy challenges like this,” concluded Jason. “We utilised our experience of working on similar projects to make Girdwood a success and I’ve no doubt we will take the lessons we learned on this project and implement them in the future.”