Alexandra Park was laid out over some ten acres and opened to the public in 1887. The land originally belonged to Sir John Preston, the York Street Flax Spinning Company and the Jennymount Flax Spinning Company, and the companies retained water rights as the ornamental lake in the park supplied water to the mills.
The name of the park marked the visit to Belfast in 1885 of the Prince and Princess of Wales. The gate lodge is contemporary with the park, and was probably designed by J C Bretland.
In recent years the park had suffered from considerable vandalism, and despite the hard work of the city’s Parks Department there had been a marked deterioration in its amenity. About 1990 the lodge was burnt out in an arson attack but Hearth Revolving Fund subsequently acquired it from the City Council.
The lodge is a small two-storey rubble-stone building with steeply pitched roofs and tall stone chimneys, and the windows are plain sashes with an unusual shouldered design. The fire had destroyed the staircase, first floor, and most of the roof, and no internal doors survived, although some windows remained in scorched and rotted condition. The structure was generally sound, but the stonework had been repointed in hard mortar at some stage, leading to deterioration of some of the soft Scrabo stonework.
Restoration of the building involved new slate roofs and cast iron gutters, and new windows and doors throughout. A considerable amount of stone was replaced where the original material was badly spalled or damaged by the fire and ongoing deterioration. Internally, a new staircase was put in, and flooring was replaced throughout. There was no evidence of ornamental ceiling roses after the fire, but it is very likely that the house had roses, and new ones were provided. Originally there would have been three bedrooms upstairs, but one has been made into a bathroom.
Hearth Historic Buildings Trust
McNally Contractors Ltd, Randalstown
NI Housing Executive, Environment & Heritage Service DoE through EEC Tourism Sub-Programme