The original purpose of this building is shrouded in mystery: it appears to have been built shortly after 1860 as a factory – the section of road in front was known for many years as Factory Row – but it has been suggested variously that it was for manufacturing nails, rope, lace or embroidery.
Since the original windows were quite small, it seems more likely that it was a warehouse, perhaps for storing goods produced in local cottage industries. Almost certainly, the house at the right-hand end was occupied by the owner or manager, since it had more sophisticated stonework and larger windows. The remainder of the building was originally a large open space, the chimneys, party walls and larger windows all being added when the terrace was converted to houses about 1890. This conversion itself followed an unusual plan, with each front door leading to a common staircase shared by a pair of houses each with only two ground floor rooms and two small bedrooms.
In the early 1980s the terrace was condemned as unfit, and plans were made to demolish it and redevelop the site, but the terrace was recommended for listing in 1986, and Hearth was able to negotiate its purchase late in 1989. A few months later, in March 1990, a 1000 lb van bomb left outside the RUC station across the road wrecked windows, doors and roofs; two of the houses were still occupied, but fortunately the tenants avoided serious injury. For once, Hearth had acquired a building in reasonably sound condition requiring only modernisation, but it became a full restoration as usual!
Under the contract the pairs of houses were combined so that each front door led to only one house; and no.12 was adapted to accommodate the returning family, who had brought up ten children in what, even with the addition of an extra bedroom over the carriageway from no.14, is only a three-bedroom house. The first floor joists had been exposed below, and as much as possible of the joists has been left showing below the plaster – some joists retaining nails where items had been hung from the ceiling. The original cast-iron windows, with pivoted top-lights, were almost all damaged in the bomb, and new ones were cast; but many of the staircases and doors were salvaged and reused after extensive repairs. Each house has a stone-walled yard, and originally a vegetable garden to the rear. Following the restoration of the neighbouring St Patrick’s Church in 1997, much of the latter was sold to the church as a garden.