Cycling UK receives £10,000 grant to create bicycle map of Belfast's maritime history

An old black and white postcard of the dry docks in Belfast
A vintage postcard of Belfast dry docks during their heyday
Grant from the Community Heritage Fund will help to take cyclists on a journey through the past of the Northern Irish capital
  • The Routes and Roots project will build connections between communities in east and north Belfast through cycling. 
  • The Cycling UK project will link key maritime heritage sites with recreation and outdoor space to encourage new people to cycle.
  • 29 community heritage projects from across Northern Ireland have been awarded grants to support the arts, culture, heritage and languages sectors hard hit by the pandemic.   

From the Titanic Quarter and the Samson and Goliath cranes to the restoration of church space at Sailortown, Belfast is bursting with heritage which a new project, Routes and Roots will look to bring to life from two wheels.  

The charity Cycling UK has been awarded £10,000 through the Community Heritage Fund to create a cycle route connecting communities in East Belfast and Sailortown, by taking riders on a journey of the city telling local people’s life stories.  

The project will be community led, as the charity appeals to residents to identify the places that matter to them and explore how they are connected. Its purpose is to connect people and communities within east Belfast and Sailortown to each other, their history and heritage through a trail of key landmarks within easy cycling distance of one another. 

The Community Heritage Fund, which The National Lottery Heritage Fund is delivering on behalf of the Department for Communities, will help people in Northern Ireland to connect with their local heritage. 

29 projects from across Northern Ireland, including Cycling UK’s Routes and Roots project, have been awarded grants totalling £241,900. The innovative project will enable visitors and locals to stay active by using a bike to travel between landmarks connected to Belfast’s industrial history.  

The charity will work with community groups, the Heritage Hub, Maritime Belfast Trust and local communities to bring people’s stories of Belfast past and present to life.  

Josh Murray, Cycling UK engagement officer for Northern Ireland, said:  

“I grew up in Belfast and worked here for several years and so I have cycled through the marina and thought about our maritime history countless times – but what has not happened before, and what this grant from the Department for Communities and the National Lottery Heritage Fund will make possible, is to link all these locations together in a journey by bicycle or on foot, suitable for all.  

“I know that the people of Belfast are great ambassadors for our city and so I am looking forward to speaking with local communities and working with Eastside Partnership, Sailortown Regeneration and Maritime Trust to bring this route to life and encourage those in the community to join in this journey.” 

The innovative project will provide a multimedia experience, capturing stories and old routes through interviews with local people to create a series of engaging films, in addition to maps and route guides. 

The charity will also work to develop community cycling clubs in north and east Belfast to create a cycling legacy and encourage more people to stay heathy and travel sustainably by bicycle. The route will be accessible not just by bike but also on foot.

Cycling UK’s funding bid was backed by Sailortown Regeneration, a charity working with people in Sailortown, North Belfast, to promote cultural, community and urban development. Other key partners on Routes and Roots include charity EastSide Partnership, the Maritime Belfast Trust and Heritage Hub. 

I know the people of Belfast are great ambassadors for our city and so I am looking forward to speaking with our partners to bring this route to life

Josh Murray, Cycling UK engagement officer for Northern Ireland

The Community Heritage Fund is part of the £29m Executive allocation that was made to the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19. 

This is the latest package of support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the heritage sector across the UK throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Last year, the organisation committed over £600 million of National Lottery and government funding to more than 1,500 heritage organisations, along with expertise and advice on adapting to the pandemic. 

Paul Mullan, Northern Ireland director for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: 

“Our local places have become more important than ever throughout this pandemic, and through this fund, we hope to encourage people to get to know their local heritage that bit better. 

“We are grateful to the Department for Communities for providing the funding and we are delighted to fund a diverse range of projects which will make a huge impact on many communities across Northern Ireland.” 

Notes to editors

1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often. 

2. Cycling UK has recently launched a heritage project celebrating communities in the Welsh valleys, called Tales of the Trails and also funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Press contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Richard Wevill on 07785 381 648 or email Out of hours, call 07786 320 713