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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Belfast council to look at restoring derelict Wilmont House at Lady Dixon Park

Belfast Council is to commission a report looking at the restoration of Wilmont House at Lady Dixon Park in South Belfast.

The B1 listed mansion, built in 1859, will be the subject of a report looking at its restoration, after elected representatives at a Belfast City Council committee meeting agreed to an Alliance motion.

The motion, by Councillor Micky Murray, states: “This council, having due regard to the value of our heritage assets across the city, agrees to commission an independent evaluation of the options to restore Wilmont House back into use.

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“Such an evaluation should include potential business uses and associated costs for renovation and explore the viability of community or wider civic use.” The motion will be ratified at the full council meeting next week.

Part of the motion’s discussion was restricted during the recent meeting of the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources, away from the public and press. However during unrestricted sitting councillors were heard to agree they would discuss Wilmont House, and other “at risk” buildings in the council estate, in the council area working groups.

Wilmont House, at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in South Belfast, has laid empty for over a decade and has fallen into disrepair. The two storey building consists of red brick, with a three bay front and a balustraded porch, and was designed by Belfast architect Thomas Jackson.

The house was owned by prominent banker and city Lord Mayor James Bristow in the 19th century for twenty years, before being sold to Robert Henry Sturrock Reade in 1879. His son George Reade then sold the house to Sir Thomas Dixon, who also purchased the surrounding 134 acre demesne in 1919. The parkland has hosted international rose trials since 1964, and in 1991 a Japanese garden was added.

Lady Dixon handed over Wilmont demesne to the Belfast city council in 1963, one year before she died, on the stipulation that grounds became a public park and Wilmont House a care home for the elderly. The nursing home closed in 1992 and the house was used for council offices and occasional events.

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