Jobs boost as 30 roles created at gardens and visitor centre

Jobs boost as 30 roles created at gardens and visitor centre

22 August 2018

THIRTY jobs have been created with the opening of a new visitor attraction at Ballynahinch’s Montalto Estate.

The gardens and a new visitor centre with a 120-seat café will be opened up to the public this autumn at the 400-acre estate.

Visitors will have the opportunity enjoy trails and walks previously not open to the public.

The new jobs are full-time and part-time positions and another 40 construction jobs were created during the build.

Montalto House was built in 1760 for the Earl of Moira and went through a number of hands before being bought by Gordon and June Wilson — of generator manufacturer FG Wilson fame — in 1995.

The estate was purchased in the 19th century by the Ker family from Portavo, who enlarged and updated the house. The Ker family was also very much involved in developing the town of Ballynahinch itself.

Montalto House and the estate remained in the Ker family until the early 20th century when they were bought by Lord Clanwilliam. 

The estate was used as a base for US soldiers during the Second World War before the Clanwilliam family sold the estate in 1979.

From the mid-nineties, the Wilson family developed the house and estate as an exclusive luxury venue for business and corporate clients. 

In 2012, they created the award-winning wedding venue – The Carriage Rooms. 

The main house was substantially renovated during this time and remains private to day visitors.

David Wilson, managing director of Montalto Estate,, grandson of Fred Wilson, said that the aim was to provide “a top class visitor attraction” for the whole of Northern Ireland.

He said: “For the first time ever visitors will have the opportunity to see the beautiful gardens, walks and trails that makes Montalto a truly mystical and enchanting place to visit.  

“Our aim is which will not only add to the existing Northern Ireland visitor experience but which will encourage visitors into the region. 

“The investment also provides us with the opportunity to preserve the unique character and heritage of this magnificent site which will help to ensure its long term future as an important landmark and visitor destination within Co Down.”

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen is supporting the new venture.

 “We welcome this investment in Montalto Estate and are delighted to see this new addition to our long list of unique and high quality visitor attractions,” he said.

“Last year was another record year for tourism as we welcomed almost five million visitors to Northern Ireland. 

“Attractions such as Montalto Estate which enable visitors to connect with the culture, heritage and landscape of Northern Ireland are key to ensuring our continued success in attracting visitors to the region.”

The visitor experience will include — public access to the estate’s beautiful gardens with features including many varieties of flora and fauna along with surprising garden features; historic walks and trails including the 

Lake Walk, the Garden Walk and the Woodland Trail with a play area for children. 

A purpose-built centre, designed in keeping with the look and feel of the estate, will include a welcome area featuring interpretation of the estate’s history.

Refreshments will be offered in the café and the shop will offer a mix of estate produce, local craft products and other unique items. 

Montalto Estate will open to the public in the autumn. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm.  

Access to site including car park, welcome area, café and shop is free.  Gardens, trails and walks will be ticketed with prices starting from £7.50 for adults and £5 for children (aged 5-16) with discounted rates for advance online bookings. Children under five are free. Visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ExploreMontalto.