A sunny Friday afternoon and a stream of lorries trundle into site, back and forth. So how is the project at Hillsborough Castle progressing?
What was once a bank of unremarkable fields lining the A1 has now undergone transformation thanks to the hard work of numerous contractors. Levelling huge swathes of ground, road closures and creating an entire new slip road off the A1 are no small feats. With new access to Hillsborough Castle directly off the main road from Dublin into Belfast, visiting has never been easier and we’re hoping to see lots of visitors, both local and those from sunnier shores in 2019.
First impressions count and with that in mind there has been considerable effort put into the planning to plan and design a suitably elegant and impressive entrance. A hand-crafted stone wall marks the sweeping entrance, giving our visitors a sense of the character of Hillsborough Castle awaiting beyond.
Moving into the car park development itself, a special system is now being meticulously woven into the cleared and levelled landscape. This is a rigid, high quality recycled plastic reinforcement and erosion control system, designed to encourage the growth of grass under conditions of intensive vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It is so carefully designed to filter pollutants out, the engineer claims the water run-off will be drinkable!
Out with the old and in with the new…well not quite. Archaeologists and contractors working on the new Lower Visitor facilities unearthed an ancient fire-pit at the Hot Wall which is now undergoing careful conservation during the laying of the new building’s foundations and meticulous repair work to existing brickwork. What is a Hot Wall you might ask? This was a way of growing fruit against a heated, by fire, wall in the 18th century in Northern Ireland. The height of luxurious living! John Baird, the Programme Sponsor, has been a noteworthy guardian and protector of our valued heritage ensuring this critical conservation work was carried out without a glitch – all hands on deck came into play on this day!
By Caroline Ebert
Project Support Assistant