Plans to transform old workhouse into new business hub

Enniskillen Workhouse was designed by George Wilkinson and opened at the end of 1845. The scene of much suffering during the famine years, it finally closed in 1948. Now, a new project is being developed to transform the remaining building into a business enterprise and heritage hub, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Photo: Fermanagh and Omagh Museum Services

A MAJOR new project is under way to transform the remaining Enniskillen Workhouse building into a business enterprise and heritage hub.
Development funding of £221,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund was awarded to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) and will be used to work on proposals for the project, which is being delivered in partnership with South West College, in order to secure the full £2.3 million grant requested. 
The proposals will see the entrance block of the nineteenth century building restored and brought back into use as a hub for business innovation and enterprise. 
A mixed-use exhibition, reminiscence and display space will showcase the surviving workhouse records to tell its story and the people who were housed there for the first time. More than 100 local craftspeople and contractors will benefit from heritage skills training and 12 apprenticeships will be created.
Chairman of FODC, Cllr Stephen McCann, said the Council was delighted with the funding, which will enable preparatory work to be done in preparation for the next phase. 
“For many people in the area, the Workhouse is still a living reminder of times gone by which is in relative terms quite recent,” he said. 
“It is important to highlight and remember this very important part of our shared history in a meaningful and respectful way.”
Michael McAlister, chief executive of South West College who are working on the project in conjunction with FODC, said: “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 exciting opportunities for young people in Fermanagh to develop new skills in heritage restoration and follow new entrepreneurial career paths.” 
Enniskillen Workhouse opened in 1844 to accommodate 1000 people who, due to a range of circumstances, found themselves in financial distress.  
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. 

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