77-81 Main Street, Moira, Co Down

Restoration encouraged more in terrace
Restoration of three houses encouraged restoration of the rest of the terrace

Moira is a village laid out along a main street which widens into a long tree-lined square. It was largely redeveloped in the early 18th century by the Rawdon estate, which built stone and brick houses in place of the earlier thatched mud cottages. The availability of basalt and good local freestone resulted in what Harris described in 1744 as a 'well laid out and thriving village consisting of one broad street inhabited by many dealers who carry on linen manufacture to good advantage'.

At the north end of the village, which is a conservation area, a terrace of about a dozen houses between the courthouse and the parish church had lain derelict since the mid sixties. Demolition of a large portion was threatened in the early eighties, but was averted by listing. In 1986 Hearth was able to agree the purchase of three properties at the upper end of the terrace, and restoration was set in hand. Negotiations to purchase the lower houses were unsuccessful, but they have since been restored by others leading to a marked revival in the village's appearance.

Although the houses were probably built around the same time, all having early roof timbers and trusses, they are remarkably varied in character. No.77, the largest, is stone-built but was refaced in ornamental stucco in the mid 19th century; it has a bedroom over the old carriageway entrance and has retained early crown glass in a borrowed light off the staircase. No. 79 had been pebble-dashed in recent years, but when this was stripped off rubble stonework with brick soldier courses was revealed, and this was made good and left exposed. Although this house had suffered from extensive dry rot and structural problems, it also contained the most original woodwork, and the staircase was rebuilt using largely salvaged handrail and balustrades, and window shutters were carefully reconstructed, as was the marble fireplace in the main living room which had been badly damaged. No. 81 was built of soft local brick which could not be re-exposed after stripping of pebbledash, and it was roughcast; the back wall was badly buckled and had to be rebuilt completely. Small local slates survived which were used for re-roofing the front slope of the house, and an original tall fireplace was uncovered in one of the ground floor rooms, and restored.

Hearth Revolving Fund
Architects: Hearth
Quantity Surveyors: McNeil Rainey & Best

Structural Engineer: Kirk McClure & Morton
Main Contractors: Roy Hanna, Lurgan

Restored: 1987
Accommodation: Two three-bedroom houses and one two-bedroom house (Sold)

Assisted by loans and grants from: N I Housing Executive, Historic Buildings Branch DoE, Northern Bank, Architectural Heritage Fund, and own capital.

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