Designated as a Conservation Area in 1992, Bushmills is one of Northern Ireland’s most historic towns and is home to around 100 listed buildings. It is with the town’s history and heritage in mind, that the current owners of Bushmills Distillery are embarking on an ambitious refurbishment. Lagan Building Solutions (LBS) will supply around 27,000 new 50×30 Bangor Blue Slates this summer, to replace an existing twenty year old Spanish slate (Villar del Rey) roof in the complex. It is the beginning of an ambitious project that will eventually see many of the Victorian Buildings returned to their formative splendour. The roofing contractor on the current project is Laverty Roofing (Antrim).
Bushmills Whiskey Distillery & The Origins Of Bushmills Town
Little is known about the origins of the town, but it is thought that it may have been settled as early as the 1200s. Its growth was largely due to its proximity to the river, which was ideal for the many industries that relied on water mills for power during the industrial revolution. There were at one time at least seven mills in the town including a flaxmill, cornmill and spade mill. The history of whiskey making in the Bushmills area can be traced back to the early 1600s, when the original licence to distil was granted by King James the First. It wasn’t until 1784, however, that the Bushmills Distillery was formally established on the banks of St Columb’s Rill, it was one of around 5 distilleries in the town. By the 1850s it appeared that only two distilleries were still in operation, one of which ceased production and was later converted into homes.
Bushmills Distillery 1880 -Disaster strikes
The original buildings at Bushmills distillery had been constructed using thatch and timber and in 1885 a devastating fire ripped through the site. Despite the extent of the damage the distillery was rebuilt immediately and the buildings are those that still stand today.
1890 – Bushmills, America and World War II
Grasping the opportunity that export offered, in 1890 the distillery shipped its whiskey to America and on to Asia aboard its own boat the SS Bushmills. The American market became an important export market for ‘Bushmills Whiskey’ and the Prohibition of 1920-1933 undoubtedly damaged its ambitions. It survived nonetheless, and its owner at the time Samuel Wilson Boyd increased production and capacity. When Prohibition finally ended in 1933 the distillery was in the perfect position to capitalise on the increased demand. During WW II 1939-1945 the distillery did not produce and part of the building was given over to accommodate allied troops.
Bushmills Distillery – The future
Bushmills Distillery resumed production after the War joining the Irish Distilleries group in 1972. It was then acquired by Pernod Ricard in 1987. Sold to Diageo in 2005 for £295 million the Distillery has seen somewhat of a renaissance. Diageo have almost tripled production at the Bushmills site and the Distillery remains a prime destination for tourists visiting the area. The Bushmills complex has a bright future ahead of it and LBS are proud to have supplied such an historic building.
If you have any questions about re-roofing a listed building, or conservation LBS will be happy to help. We specialise in the supply of large format Bangor Blue slate and have proven experience of supplying numerous large scale restoration projects across Ireland.
c/o Bushmills Distillery
LBS are owners of the Penrhyn Bangor Blue quarry in Wales and are Ireland’s largest independent supplier of natural slate and clay roofing products. They have offices in Lisburn, Dublin and Belfast and have a helpful friendly team of technical reps covering all 32 counties.