£2.1m National Lottery Support secured for Enniskillen Workhouse project

21st January 2020

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, in partnership with South West College (SWC) has been awarded £2,156,300 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to undertake a major heritage project at Enniskillen Workhouse, starting this summer.

Announcing the award, Northern Ireland Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Paul Mullan, said: “It is wonderful to announce our support for this ambitious project which will breathe new life into this historic building.  This project will restore the remaining Entrance Block to create modern facilities for business and enterprise whilst ensuring its important connections to the people who were housed here and its social heritage are opened up and conserved. “

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project which is due for completion in January 2022 will create a state-of-the-art business development hub and heritage space. The previously untold story of the workhouse and the people who were housed there will also be brought to life in the mixed-use exhibition and display space.  

The project will see the Workhouse Entrance Block restored with part of the building known as the Porter’s Room redeveloped as mixed-use exhibition, reminiscence and display space. Here the surviving workhouse records and minute books will be displayed, and a dedicated heritage trail will be used to tell the story of the workhouse and the people who were housed there, for the first time.  This space will be managed in conjunction with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Fermanagh County Museum, also funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The remaining first floor space, managed in partnership with SWC, will be brought back into use as a hub for business innovation and enterprise.

Throughout the restoration works a dedicated heritage skills and education programme will enable more than 100 local craftspeople and contractors to benefit from accredited training in heritage skills, and 12 apprenticeships will be created throughout the restoration works.

Enniskillen Workhouse opened in 1844 to accommodate 1000 people who, due to a range of circumstances, found themselves in financial distress.  The building was one of 160 workhouses throughout Ireland designed by architect George Wilkinson.  The main workhouse was demolished in 1964 and all that remains today is the Grade B2 listed Entrance Block, which is currently ‘at risk’ and in need of urgent repair. 

Speaking about the funding award, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Siobhán Currie, said “The Council welcomes the announcement of the award of £2.1 million from National Lottery Heritage Fund to undertake what is a significant heritage restoration project in partnership with South West College. The project aims to develop local skills, business and enterprise opportunities while remembering a very important part of our shared history in a meaningful and respectful way. The former workhouse is very much part of our living history, closing as recently as 1948. For some people in our district, this story is a very real one and the award will enable us to permanently bring to life and preserve for future generations, the story of the workhouse and the people who were housed there.”

Commenting on the announcement, Michael McAlister, Chief Executive of South West College said: “We are delighted that, in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, our application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been successful.  The Workhouse sits adjacent to the new Erne Campus development in Enniskillen and there is a strong synergy between these two projects in terms of skills and economic development in the region. The restoration of the Workhouse will create a range of exciting opportunities for local people including new skills opportunities through the roll out of a dedicated heritage skills development programme and also the opportunity to secure business innovation and enterprise development support through the new hub which will be located in the restored Workhouse.”