Engaging Art at Carlisle Memorial 30th May-2nd June

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Carlisle Memorial

Carlisle Memorial is a unique and spectacular example of a high-Victorian gothic church. It was built between 1872 and 1875 at the request of a Belfast based merchant, James Carlisle, in memorial of his children who died. It was his gift to the city of Belfast, in memory of them. Carlisle Memorial was designed by W.H. Lynn, one of Belfast’s pre-eminent Victorian-era architects, and became known as the ‘Methodist Cathedral’.

The church closed in June 1980, after a difficult period following the onset of the Troubles. It quickly fell into disrepair. BBT first expressed concern about the building in 1997. The Trust conducted a community consultation in 2008-09. This established the strength of local affection for what people in north Belfast regard as the gateway building to the area. BBT successfully nominated the building for the World Monument FundWatch 2010, placing it amongst the 100 most endangered historic and cultural sites in the world.

The Trust secured emergency funding after a structural survey in 2012 found the roof at the point of collapse. The work provided time to raise the investment needed to make the building usable.

Since 2015, Carlisle Memorial has been a venue for a range of engagement activities and public events involving people from across Belfast. These include the world premiere of the BBT-commissioned’ The Belfast Opera’, a Northern Ireland Opera production of ‘La Boheme’ and filming of NI Opera’s award-winning ‘Old Friends and Other Days’, as well as an annual craft beer festival. Community and cultural activities use the building, including dancing, public lectures, exhibition space for Belfast International Arts Festival and the Belfast Film Festival and recording space for TV and film.