The Carrickfergus Gasworks Preservation Society recently received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for its work in preserving Ireland’s only Victorian coal gasworks as an outstanding museum for community use.
Twenty volunteers accepted the accolade from Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Joan Christie CVO. OBE. Freeman of the Borough, at a special garden party held at Flame Gasworks Museum in Carrickfergus and attended by over 100 dignitaries and special guests.
Located in historic Carrickfergus, the gasworks opened in 1855 and supplied the town with gas made from coal until 1967. It was subsequently used to distribute gas piped from Belfast until its closure in 1987. In 2002, the restored former gasworks was opened to the public as a visitor attraction which now attracts over 3,000 visitors each year and is one of only three preserved gasworks in Britain and Ireland.
Lord Lieutenant, Joan Christie, said, “I am honoured to present the Carrickfergus Gasworks Preservation Society with this most prestigious of awards for the valiant efforts of their volunteers in preserving such a remarkable piece of history and reimagining it for the future.
“It’s marvellous to have such a rare piece of history on our doorstep and it is inspiring to see the abounding passion, dedication and skill that the team of volunteers has put into preserving this unique piece of heritage and continuing to celebrate it through the work of the Flame Gasworks Museum.”
Brian McKee from Carrickfergus Gasworks Preservation Society, said, “We are thrilled to receive this award and to be recognised for our work in preserving the gasworks here in Northern Ireland. Earlier this year we were delighted to attend The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace for recipients of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service but it’s great to be here today to officially receive the Award in the grounds of the gasworks and bring home our own piece of history.”
“This award represents a tremendous achievement for our volunteers. Over the last thirty years, they have worked tirelessly to not only preserve our unique Victorian Coal Gasworks, but to revitalise the site as an historical place of interest and centre for education, as well as providing a space for the community.
“All of our volunteers feel immensely proud of the recognition that this Award represents, which is very much the MBE for volunteer groups. As one of only three preserved gasworks in the UK and Ireland, and one of only six worldwide, we are delighted to celebrate this achievement and showcase the museum in all its glory.
“For anyone who hasn’t yet been to Flame Gasworks Museum, we would encourage you to visit and witness an incredible piece of Victorian history which celebrates the legacy and industrial development of Belfast and Carrickfergus over the past 160 years.”
Flame Gasworks Museum is open all year round and admission is free, but a donation is gratefully received. For more information, or to book a tour, visit www.flamegasworks.co.uk or telephone 028 9336 9575.