Inside old Stewartstown Ulster Bank building transformed into coffee shop

The site of a former Ulster Bank building in a Co Tyrone town has officially opened as a coffee shop.

The building and grounds in Stewartstown, outside Coalisland, were bought over recently by local businessman Don Ryan, who has converted one part of it into self-catering accommodation, and last week opened The Old Bank coffee shop on the premises.

The closure of the bank building in the town was lamented by many four years ago. Don told Belfast Live it was a loss to the area but that he wanted to use the building to bring something that was needed to Stewartstown.

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“The building was built by Mr Shanbury who was a local merchant who dealt in fabrics in the 1830s,” he said.

“Him and his family lived in it up until the 1920s when it was bought by Ulster Bank and turned into a bank building in 1925.

“It had been a bank from 1925 up until four years ago when it closed. It was a big loss because it was always busy, they were queuing out the door.

“This building and twelve others in Northern Ireland closed and the local bank is now in Cookstown, about six or seven miles away.”

The new business opened its doors to the public last Monday, and Don said he was overwhelmed by the positive response from local people.

He says that changing attitudes towards how people socialise meant that the layout of the town has changed in recent years.

“We first started off with accommodation in mind, but then we thought the coffee shop was becoming more and more popular with the decline of pubs.

“This town is down to two pubs now, when there was 12 or 15 if you go back 25 years.

“Society has changed and how we socialise has changed so we thought we could do with a good coffee shop here as there is none in the town.

“It was the perfect building in the main square, nicely laid out for it so we thought we’d buy it and give it a go.

“Last week I saw three people out here I went to school with and haven’t seen in over 30 years.

“We’ve got some good businesses in the town. I’d just like to see people use it and be happy to come here and sit out in the summer when they can. It’s somewhere to meet and enjoy it.”


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BelfastLive – Co Tyrone