Demolition begins of landmark chimney in Ballymena
Another piece of 'old Ballymena' is set to disappear as work gets underway to demolish the original chimney tower of the former boiler house at the Braid Valley Hospital site.
Love Ballymena was contacted by a number of local residents who felt dismayed upon seeing scaffolding being erected last week ahead of the demolition of the landmark chimney, that has been part of the town's skyline for many years.
Photos: QMAC Construction Ltd.
The site, one of 130 'workhouses' for the poor built throughout Ireland, was constructed in 1842-3 by the Ballymena Poor Law Union (formed in 1840), and designed by George Wilkinson. The local workhouse occupied a six-acre site at the west side of Cushendall Road to the north of Ballymena, and could accommodate 900 inmates, although records show it was never filled to capacity.
The original Ballymena Workhouse
The cost of the building at the time was £6,600 plus £1,800 for fixtures and fittings. It was declared fit for the admission of paupers on 3rd November 1843, and admitted its first inmates two weeks later on the 17th November.
The Workhouse closed its doors in the late 1940s and was subsequently converted into the Braid Valley Hospital.
Inside the chimney.
The view from the top of the chimney.
The removal of the original chimney is part of a larger project, being carried out by Dungannon company QMAC Construction Ltd, who was contracted by Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) to renovate the former boiler house. Harte Demolition is undertaking the removal of the chimney.
It is understood that the works contract is worth £797,334, and will create a 'weathertight, useable, and compliant space within the old redundant Boiler House at Braid Valley, Ballymena.'
The old water tanks, each weighing 28.7 tonnes and used to heat the hospital, were decommissioned and being removed. (Video: QMAC)
Speaking to Love Ballymena, NHSCT said the chimney was no longer in use but was incurring routine maintenance costs.
The Trust spokesperson stated:
“The Northern Health and Social Care Trust can confirm that works have commenced at Braidvalley Hospital in Ballymena, as part of a modernisation programme to claim unused space for future developments.
"After careful consideration and as part of the modernisation programme, the Northern Trust has taken the decision to demolish the unused chimney. The structure is no longer needed to maintain services within the site, yet requires routine maintenance to ensure the safety of service users and staff.”