Looking forward to a good days work with Portadown Heritage Tours as we plan for the future of their innovative heritage business in the town. We have been working together for almost two years now on a range of projects and have been able to draw down both National Lottery and local Council PEACE IV funding to support this innovative social enterprise.
In that time the community here has turned what was once billed the greatest the worst tourism nightmare Northern Ireland faced since the Troubles into a tourism success story. I mean of course the Drumcree Standoff which for a number of years was a regular summer feature in the local calendar. Politically motivated protests against parades were met by street protests which paralyzed the country, shutting ports and airports along with roads and bridges down.
Tourism N.I. listed it as the greatest threat to tourism citing figures which saw a dip in visitors in that period. Now less that twenty years later a project which was developed to promote Orange heritage has taken on a life of its own and is now the largest cultural heritage promotional programme in the town. Ironically one of the most popular ‘products’ is a Drumcree tour, with the trained professional tour guides all having an intimate knowledge of the events of Drumcree.
The community tourism project has breathed life into the Carleton Street Hall and local community, and with fresh thinking and cutting edge knowledge from a range of cultural tourism and heritage experts brokered by LEXXER Solutions the programme has developed into a charitable company, and now hosts a range of educational and interpretative tours, exhibitions and events for all communities and a range of heritage programmes which have developed beyond the initial Orange offering to cover the industrial, military, social and cultural life and heritage of Portadown.