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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Historic cottage to be restored
Lock keeper's cottage
The cottage is the last remaining in public ownership in NI
A little piece of the River Lagan's history is to be restored to its former glory.

The lock keeper's cottage at Shaw's Bridge has lain derelict for many years but work has begun on a visitors centre in its grounds.

It will boast an interpretative centre, coffee shop and picnic area. Castlereagh council hopes the project will be completed by August this year.

The cottage featured on the BBC's Restoration programme in 2004.

The programme received more than 27,000 calls in support of the restoration and the development of an interpretation and refreshment facility in its grounds.

Castlereagh Mayor Jimmy Spratt said the council was delighted to have been able to respond to the huge public demand for a facility on the site.

The scene boasts idyllic views
The scene boasts idyllic views

"This section of the Lagan towpath has always been widely enjoyed by the local community," he said.

"The council has taken all possible steps to ensure that the new facility will enhance the surrounding natural environment of the Lagan Valley Regional Park and the enjoyment of those visiting the area."

Jack Beattie, chairman of the Council's Economic Development Committee, said: "Many Castlereagh residents remember the cottage in its former glory and remember how visitors to the towpath could purchase refreshments from the blue shop attached to the Kilpatrick's Cottage.

"It gives me great delight to know that this idyllic scene will be restored and that people of Castlereagh and beyond will once again be able to stop off for refreshments and a break from their walking, cycling and other recreational pursuits."

Mrs Dorothy McBride
Dorothy McBride grew up in the cottage

The lock keeper's cottage is the last remaining one in public ownership on the famous Lagan Navigation canal network.

It played a vital role in a water transport system which served Northern Ireland.

Built between 1827 and 1934, the vernacular two-storey house with four rooms is testimony to a way of life that is almost forgotten.

In 1954, the Lagan Navigation Company was dissolved, unable to compete with modern transport.

The lock keeper bought the cottage and stayed there until his death, willing it to one of his daughters who in turn sold it to the council so that it would stay in public hands.

Mrs Dorothy McBride, one of the 10 Kilpatrick children who were born and raised in the cottage, said she was delighted that the development was now moving ahead as planned.

The council has secured funding for the scheme from both the European Union, through its Building Sustainable Prosperity Fund and the Heritage Lottery, through its Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Castlereagh Mayor Jimmy Spratt speaks about the plans

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