A new visitor centre documenting the history of Belfast City Cemetery and the people buried within it has opened.
The building is a key element of a £2.8 million heritage project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities.
The centre includes an interpretive exhibition, digital touchscreens, interactive features for children, genealogy research workstations and indoor and outdoor educational space for schools and youth groups.
Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Christina Black said: “City Cemetery opened in 1869, and it is the final resting place of many notable figures including Sir Edward Harland, co-founder of Harland & Wolff; Margaret Byers, suffragist and founder of Victoria College; and Sir William Pirrie, chairman of Harland & Wolff in the Titanic era. Their stories, the history of the cemetery and the wider development of the city of Belfast are all told within the new visitor centre.
“This project aims to transform how people view and use the cemetery, ensuring that visitors can appreciate the wealth of history and heritage within its walls. In addition to the new visitor centre, interpretive signage is being installed throughout the cemetery and visitors can download an app so they can take self-guided tours.”
Dr Paul Mullan from The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We’re pleased to support Belfast City Council and their Belfast City Cemetery project which is safeguarding this important local heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players, the new visitor centre is a welcoming space with engaging interpretation that allows people to explore Belfast’s rich and complex past and research their own connections to the cemetery. We’re looking forward to the unveiling of the Cemetery’s fascinating, historic features in the coming months when restoration works are complete.”
To support the heritage project’s aim of attracting more visitors to the cemetery, an ongoing activity programme is also being delivered including free events and talks, guided tours, educational visits and other outreach activities.
The final key elements of the project will see the restoration of several historic B1-listed monuments including the cemetery’s central steps and vaults and Victorian fountains, as well as the installation of new interpretive signage in Irish later this year.
Initially the new visitor centre will be open five days a week from Tuesday to Saturday from 9.30am to 1.30pm.
For more information visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/citycemeteryheritage