Refurbishment of Lisburn Masonic Hall, Belsize Road, Lisburn
The original building, that had been used as a Manse, was purchased in the 1970’s by six (6) masonic lodges, to which an extension was constructed that forms the current premises.
The management of the hall was divided into two committees. The Hall Management Committee (HMC) and the Social Club Committee (SCC).
Since 2011, the hall has had a number of improvements and renovations.
In 2012, the HMC secured a Big Lottery Grant, which assisted in the refurbishment of the kitchen. The existing kitchen was removed, and new cupboards fitted, a new gas supply including safety cut-offs were installed, the walls were covered with “whitewall” which is a wipeable easy-clean surface and new flooring.
The HMC then identified a programme of works, considered necessary to bring the premises up to a suitable standard, and assessed the financial implications for each of the various projects.
- Roof Repairs – A few leaks had been repaired over the years.
- Electrical Upgrading – Over the years a number of “amendments” and additions had been carried out.
- Heating Upgrading (including improved Insulation) – The existing storage heaters were inefficient and costly.
- Regalia Cupboards – Each unit had provided their own cupboard of various dimensions.
- New Lighting / Ceilings – New tubes for the old fittings were difficult to obtain and ceilings affected by roof leaks.
- Lift Installation – High priority for our elderly masons
- New Carpets/ Decoration – The existing carpets were suffering from “wear and tear”.
- Toilet Refurbishment – Very dated, and required attention (tiles coming of walls etc.)
Although there were some financial reserves, the bank balance was suffering heavily from the costly heating bills, caused by the inefficiency of the old storage heaters and therefore the immediate concern was to minimise the running costs. The solution was to divide the hall into zones and carry out a phased replacement of the storage heaters with a new more efficient and economic system, and so in the summer of 2014 a new gas boiler and radiators were installed to the first zone (Donoughmore Room and upstairs Function Rooms).
We also obtained another Big Lottery Grant with which we replaced the windows with UPVC double glazing and installed cavity wall insulation. The results of the new heating system were immediate. The first time in living memory were the masons complained of too much heat, and more importantly, the heating bills were greatly reduced.
The following summer the second zones were replaced, removing the rest of the storage heaters, in the O’Connell Room, Chapter Room and upstairs corridors, the route for the pipework also necessitated the introduction of a suspended ceiling in the Castle Room including associated lighting (new high level blow heaters were also installed).
During this period, committee members promoted their own specific high priority, which was the installation of a lift, which would prolong the active masonic life of the elderly masons, and a lift fund was established to assist with this procurement.
With the change of the heating system the immediate financial concerns of the hall were reduced (although other influences continued). Although reduced social income continued, a grant was sought to refurbish the existing female toilets to the left of the entrance (a subsequent decision included refurbishment of the male toilets) in an attempt to make the hall more welcoming to the general public and so in the summer of 2017, the works to the toilets were carried out (demolitions carried out by the committee members to reduce the costs) again with the introduction of the new heating system, the pipework also required renewal of the ceilings (including lighting) to the entrance foyer and adjacent corridor.
With the completion of the toilet refurbishment, the lift Installation could now start (the favoured location was the cupboard in the corner of the second male toilets on the ground floor and the shaft above). The lift fund had amassed £7,000 of the estimated £17,000 required for the cost of the lift and assistance was secured from the Grand Lodge Fabric Fund. Work was started, however, during the demolition of the existing cupboard asbestos was discovered and its removal required the services of a specialised at a cost of £4,500. With the removal of the asbestos, the work continued, and was completed in the autumn.
In 2019, we commissioned an Electrical Installation Condition Report, which highlighted a number of issues that had to be addressed. The existing installation had been split into a Standard Tariff and an Off-peak Tariff supply, due largely to the now removed storage heater installation. Over the years, modifications and additions had been carried out utilizing the nearest supply, in several cases this was the Off-peak supply, which, given the current use of the hall, was not ideal. The decision was taken to rationalize all circuits onto Standard Tariff and remove the Off-peak, this also addressed most of the issues raised in the Condition Report, and to install emergency lighting on the 1st floor.
This work has been carried out whilst the hall has been closed during the Covid Pandemic and is near to completion. New ceilings including lighting have been installed throughout the ground floor, and heating has been installed in line with the previous phasing. New carpets and decoration have been carried out in the “Committee Room” (now home to the PPEU), and circulation areas on the ground floor.
Planned work continues and the last room (the Main Hall), is due to receive the new heating in the near future. An application for a new grant from the Big Lottery is underway to provide a DDA Toilet on the ground floor and for the refurbishment of the 1st floor male toilet.
We have invited reports and quotations for repair/renewal work to the existing roof coverings from a few companies and will assess the best way forward on receipt of the quotes.
Future works will include the renewal of ceilings and lighting on the 1st floor after the roof report/works followed by decoration and carpet renewal.
In 2019, we also installed new regalia cupboards in the Chapter Anti-room, and over the next few weeks regalia cupboards will be installed for use of the Craft Lodges (and our New Prince Masons) in the Regalia Room.
Various other tasks have been carried out over the years, such as the removal of trees around the perimeter of the property which were a risk of damage to neighbouring premises, lining of the carpark, lighting replacement and decoration as well as the ongoing maintenance cleaning, grass cutting etc.
The Committees continue to offer the premises not only to the larger masonic family but to clubs and societies in the general community to utilize the facilities and hopefully to generate funds for the continued regeneration of the hall.
Article provided by W. Brother Martin Lawther.