The history of Minnowburn

Terrace Hill garden in the 1960s

We first became involved at Minnowburn in June 1945, when the Minnowburn Beeches, the famous stand of trees alongside the Ballylesson Road at Shaw's Bridge, came under threat when a felling permit was applied for to allow building.

As the Shaw's Bridge was a well established retreat and walking destination for Belfast, we stepped in to buy the ten acres surrounding the trees and protect this special area from development.

A generous offer

But there was a twist in the tale - with funds unavailable and pleas to local Malone Road residents unsuccessful, out of the blue a local philanthropist Bennett Sergie offered the full amount of £1,400, equivalent to about £45,000 today. Unfortunately, before the Trust could purchase the land, Bennett Sergie took his own life.

Success at last

However the publicity his offer had generated meant that the felling was delayed and we eventually acquired the Beeches in 1952, with help from the Ulster Land Fund. As further land became available around the Beeches, we took the opportunity to further protect the area, purchasing an adjoining field of 17 acres in 1962.
When the owner of Terrace Hill applied for planning permission to build houses on their property, fearful that the development would spoil the surrounding area, a further 100 acres were purchased, again with a grant from the Ulster Land Fund, bringing the property to the size that it is today.

Quick history

  • The site in and around the Minnowburn area has a fascinating geological history.
  • In 1756 the Commissioners of Inland Navigation for Ireland began work on the Lagan Navigation.
  • Terrace Hill house is at the centre of Minnowburn and overlooks the Lagan Valley. The original Terrace Hill was built about 1856.
  • Situated on the bank of the Lagan, on the edge of the Minnowburn property is Edenderry, a village born of Belfast’s famous linen industry.