Northern Ireland
7th - 11th August 2017
One of a series of unique, small-group tours, led by the key experts in the field, exploring the impact of technology on our great country houses and the people who lived and worked there.
Led by Professor Marilyn Palmer MBE
4 nights, half-board in comfortable 4 star accommodation - from £765 per person
( Includes £77 of entrance and special tour fees. Discount for NT members )
Special half-price book offer:
"Technology in the Country House" by Marilyn Palmer and Ian West available with this tour
Booking is now closed

During the late 18th and 19th centuries a variety of technological innovations were becoming available to enhance the comfort and convenience of domestic life but, far from urban centres, the great Country Houses had to be self sufficient in the provision of gas, electricity, sanitation and water supply if they wished to make use of them.

Subsequently, the decline of many country houses, together with their being donated to the National Trust and their opening to the public, has meant that less alteration has taken place than in domestic property and evidence survives of the impact which these innovations had on the buildings, landscape and social structure.

For a number of years Professor Marilyn Palmer and Dr Ian West have been studying the technology in a wide range of country houses, examining both the physical remains and the historical evidence and trying to place them in the wider context of the effects they had on country house servants as well as house owners, families and guests.

Heritage of Industry is delighted to have secured Prof. Palmer and Dr West to lead this series of unique tours where they will guide us through some of theses grand residences, help us to understand some of the fascinating artefacts still to be seen and explain how they changed the lives of those who lived there – both above and below stairs.

Unlike coach company tours, which rely on the normal guides, our expert leaders, working in conjunction with the Collections Managers, give a unique insight to these properties. In most cases, we secure access to the properties early in the day when the houses are not yet open to the public so that we will have the place to ourselves for the duration of the tour and in certain cases are granted permission to see areas not normally open to the public.

At each property, after our special tour, we try to make time for you to further explore the house and gardens.

This tour explores Northern Ireland, an area of great natural beauty and with some magnificent examples of the great Country House with the remains of some fascinating early technology. It is also an area that has been less visited in the past and this tour is bound to attract great interest so book early to avoid disappointment.

Note that the order of visits may vary from that shown below


Day 1

The tour begins at our 4-star hotel in Belfast, where we will be spending our first two nights.

The coach will leave the hotel at 13:45 to visit Mount Stewart on the North East side of Strangford Lough.

The house has now re-opened after a 3 year long restoration project. The National Trust have brought back the elegance and charm of the house when it was home of the 7th Marchioness Edith, Lady Londonderry and her family in the early 20th century.

The tour will include previously unseen historic rooms and artefacts and after the house tour Prof. Palmer will lead an expedition to find what remains of the former gas works which once supplied the house, the coal being landed near the house from a wharf on Strangford Lough.

The garden reflects a rich tapestry of design and great planting artistry that was the hallmark of Edith, Lady Londonderry. The mild climate of Strangford Lough allows astonishing levels of planting experimentation. The formal areas exude a strong Mediterranean feel and resemble an Italian villa landscape and the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world where Red Squirrels are often seen. The gardens were recently votred in the top 10 gardens of the world.

Returning to our hotel, dinner will be served in a private room after which there will be a talk by Marilyn Palmer: “An Introduction to Country House Technology”

Day 2

In the morning we will drive to the southern end of Strangford Lough to visit Myra Castle Farm. Not usually open to the public and by special permission of the owner, we will take a look at the farm yard, the water wheel and early gas works for supplying acetylene gas for lighting in the adjacent house and the pony walk, once used for churning butter. This is an exciting opportunity to visit a wonderful time capsule.

We then move on to Castle Ward - an 18th-century mansion, famed for its mixture of architectural styles where gothic and classical collide. The estate yard is well worth investigating, with its own saw mill and a corn mill, which was once a tide mill before being converted to conventional water-power in the 19th century. On the house tour we will be looking out for some fine examples of the bells used for summoning the staff and early examples of lighting amongst many other fascinating artefacts.

Lunch is available in the café on site.

In the afternoon we have a little time away from technology to visit the nearby Rowallane Garden. Carved from the County Down landscape, the garden has grown from the 19th century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore who established and developed connections with seedsmen and botanic gardens throughout the world. The gardens are a mix of formal and informal spaces with many unusual vistas and unique plants from across the world. The trees, plants and shrubs range in ages, size and colour and create a spectacle throughout the year. There is a notable natural Rock Garden Wood with Primulas, Meconopsis and shade loving plants and the walled garden includes the National Collection of Penstemons.

After dinner the evening is at leisure.

Day 3

Whilst, as we have seen, Country Houses were generating their own gas for lighting, “Town Gas” was manufactured in larger plants and piped around the streets of many larger towns. For our morning visit on Wednesday we take a diversion from grand residences to the slightly more industrial side at the Carrickfergus Gasworks. The works, now a museum, opened in 1855 and contains Western Europe’s largest preserved set of retorts for the manufacture of gas and is now the only complete coal gasworks remaining in Ireland and one of only three in the British Isles.

We then begin our westward journey across the province towards County Fermanagh.

A light lunch will be included along the way.

In the afternoon we reach our hotel in Enniskillen which has lovely views over the Lough Erne to the south of Enniskillen. There will be time for a walk in the loughside gardens or you can enjoy complimentary use of the Health Club, complete with indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tub and gym. Spa treatments are also available.

Dinner will be followed by a talk by Prof. Palmer addressing the more technical aspects of country house technology, including lighting, heating and communications.

Day 4

In the morning we visit nearby Castle Coole. Possessing a stately grandeur, this stunning neo-classical 18th-century mansion is set in a beautiful wooded landscape park and allows us to glimpse what life was like in the home of the Earls of Belmore. From the magnificent estate yard, a servants’ tunnel, broad enough for a horse and cart to use, runs to the castle, along which stores were carried so that their arrival did not mar the apparent isolation of the house in its extensive grounds. Remodelled by James Wyatt from the 1790s, the house contains heating stoves designed by Wyatt, there is an interesting lamp room and a good range of bells amongst many other features.

Lunch is available in the café on site.

In the afternoon we shall visit Florence Court a warm and welcoming 18th-century property. This classical Irish house, with its fine interiors and exquisite decoration was formerly the home of the Earls of Enniskillen. It enjoys a peaceful setting in west Fermanagh, with a dramatic backdrop of mountains and forest, fine vistas and a charming walled garden. We shall be looking for the water powered sawmill, a ram pump for water supply, a very interesting service area, estate works, the ice house and in the gardens you may find the thatched summer house.

After dinner the evening is at leisure.

Day 5

In the morning, on the way back to Belfast, we will visit The Argory. Built in the 1820s, this handsome Irish gentry house is surrounded by a 130-hectare wooded riverside estate. It was the former home of the MacGeough Bond family and is a neo-classical masterpiece largely unchanged since 1900 with the eclectic interior still evoking the family's tastes and interests. It is one of the few surviving country houses to retain an acetylene gas plant and gas fittings inside the house, including examples of water-slide gasoliers, while there is an interesting story of water supply at the property and good examples of service bells amongst other things.

Outside there are sweeping vistas, scenic walks and fascinating courtyard displays.

Lunch is available in the café on site.

After the visit the coach will drop off at Belfast City Airport by 14:00 and then the hotel where the tour ends.


Professor Marilyn Palmer MBE
Marilyn read History at St Anne’s College, Oxford, and then worked in teacher training before joining the History Department of the University of Loughborough and becoming its Head in 1983. She transferred to the University of Leicester becoming Head of the School of Archaeology and Britain’s first Professor of Industrial Archaeology. She is President of the Association for Industrial Archaeology and was a Commissioner with The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England before its amalgamation with English Heritage. She serves on committees concerned with her discipline for The National Trust and the Council for British Archaeology and is the Subject Adviser for Archaeology for the University of the Third Age, for whom she runs study days as well as a large Archaeology Group. She was awarded an Award of Merit by the Society for Historical Archaeology of the USA in 2005 for her success in integrating industrial archaeology into mainstream archaeology and then an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2015 "for services to Industrial Archaeology and Heritage"


Not forgetting your own comfort and convenience, this tour includes 4-star accommodation in modern, comfortable hotels in the vibrant Gasworks district of Belfast and on the banks of Lough Erne near Enniskillen.

Just a 10-minute walk from Belfast city centre, our 4-star hotel offers spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi and air conditioning. The elegant Nordic-style rooms are decorated in cool tones, and each features a TV with on-demand movies. All rooms have a minibar, work desk and a private modern bathroom with a hairdryer.

Rooms at the Enniskillen hotel have crisp duvets and cotton sheets, hairdryer, tea/ coffee making facilities, flat screen TV, Direct dial telephone, Broadband access, Toiletries, Complimentary daily newspaper and all rooms are non-smoking. Guests may enjoy complimentary use of the Health Club, complete with indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tub and gym.


The tour starts and ends at our hotel in Belfast.

We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Belfast to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points. There are a number flights from regional airports arriving in Belfast during the morning so it should be possible to travel to Northern Ireland from a wide area that day. An extra night at the hotel can be arranged before or after the tour.

Travel during the tour will be by luxury, air-conditioned coach.

The coach will leave the hotel at 13:45 on Day 1 for the first visit.

After the Friday morning visit the coach will drop off at Belfast City Airport by 14:00 and then the hotel.


The cost of this tour will be £765 per person sharing, single supplement £125, with a discount of £39 per person for National Trust members (NT membership cards must be carried with you). The single supplement reflects the additional costs for single occupancy charged by the hotels.

In organising these very specialist and unique, small group, tours we do not enjoy the same economies of scale which are available to us for our larger group tours and this tour particularly is in the 'high season'. Nevertheless we believe that the cost represents excellent value for money and compares very favourably with other specialist operators.

This includes:
  • An itinerary packed with visits to fascinating sites
  • 4 nights dinner, bed & breakfast in 4* accommodation
  • A light lunch on Day 3
  • Luxury air conditioned coach transport to all sites and driver tip
  • All entrance and special tour fees (amounting to about £77)
  • Uniquely qualified expert guiding and services of an experienced tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunches (except Day 3)
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotels other than dinner, bed & breakfast
All costs are in Pounds Sterling (GBP) and are based on present accommodation, transport costs and taxes. Any change in these may necessitate a price change.


Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 12th June 2017, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents also need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.

UK residents who do not already have travel insurance may like to contact Avanti Travel Insurance, who specialise in providing cover for older travellers and those with medical conditions, both single-trip and annual policies, quoting reference “Heritage of Industry” for a competitive quote.

Website:  Email:  Phone: 0800 888 6195


Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people . Book as soon as possible and by 12th June 2017 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking and to issue an invoice for the balance of the price.

A non-refundable deposit of £75 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

If you wish to take advantage of our special offer of a copy of Marilyn and Ian's book "Technology in the Country House" put "Yes" on the booking form and include the additional cost of £30.00 with the deposit.

Books will be dispatched as soon as they are available, depending on delivery time from the publisher. Note that if for any reason we are unable to run the tour then your £75 deposit will be returned to you as normal but you may keep your copy of the book.

Payment should be made via electronic banking but sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank are also acceptable.

Booking is now closed

Enquiries about this tour should be directed to:

Bill Barksfield
Managing Director
Heritage of Industry Ltd, The Gables, 20 Main Road, East Hagbourne, Oxon OX11 9LN UK
Tel: +44 1235 352275  (9am - 5.30pm GMT)

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)