UAH announce the progression of the Hands-On Heritage Project

15th October 2021

Giving Communities the Tools to Record and Protect their Built Heritage!

Ulster Architectural Heritage announce the launch of ten Heritage: How To? Guides, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The historic places in which we live and work are all too often under threat from inappropriate development that fails to take account of the ‘sense of place’ that underpins the spirit and the cohesiveness of a community. When that happens, how should a community react? What resources does it need to be able to convince the planning authorities of the need for a plan to change?

The Hands-On Heritage Project aims to transform the way people and communities engage with the built heritage in Northern Ireland. For the first time, individuals, groups and whole communities will be able to record their local historic built environment on a free, easily accessible and bespoke digital platform. As this facilitates the development of the wider record of historic assets, and their condition, across Northern Ireland it will also enable communities to establish what is important to them about the historic built environment that defines their ‘sense of place’ and make the case to ensure that this is maintained and where the opportunity arises, regenerated for the benefit of the community. It will also allow the public to share a wealth of material, including photographs, oral histories and written stories or legends associated with a building or place and in turn help other communities to establish what is important to them and worth preserving.

Alongside the Recording and Reporting App, the project will also provide free educational tools, including a series of guides, an Online Toolkit and a dedicated website to allow people to better connect with and harness historic buildings, places, and heritage skills.

The project puts more power in the hands of people and communities who benefit from and interact with their local built heritage day to day; allowing them to take the lead in heritage related activities: highlighting, protecting, conserving and regenerating heritage.

The upcoming launch of ten Heritage: How To? Guides sees progression to the next stages of the project.

The themes of the Heritage: How To? Guides were based on public consultation, and are designed to address common questions, interests and issues surrounding the historic environment in Northern Ireland. The free guides will be released in four phases, each with an associated free events programme; allowing people to engage further with the themes explored in the guides. Phase One and Two launch events are programmed for 2021, with Phase Three and Four kicking off early in 2022.

UAH will be launching the first of the guides throughout November, and the guides will cover Reading, Recording and Researching historic buildings and places. Themes covered in future guides include How To? Defend Heritage and How To? Make Your Heritage Project Happen.

Phased launch events will consist of a series of FREE online and in-person events. Further details and a full programme will be released shortly. Following the phased launch events, individual Guides will be available to order or via pdf download. Upon the release of all ten Heritage: How To? Guides, a full suite of Guides will be available to order. Guides will be available FREE of charge.

Event booking is essential. For more information and event booking please visit:

Keep up to date with the latest news and events. Follow @heritage_ni @ulsterahs #HandsOnHeritageNI #HeritageHowTo

David Johnston, Chair of Ulster Architectural Heritage:

“The Hands-On Heritage is important, it puts more power in the hands of communities to preserve and develop a built heritage that is too often under threat from inappropriate development. The project reinvigorates traditional heritage engagement and outreach through new digital engagement models and technologies. It will enable Ulster Architectural Heritage, to better connect people and communities with their built heritage, and it will act as a catalyst for protection and heritage-led regeneration. This important project would not be possible without the financial support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding the Hands on Heritage Project to which Ulster Architectural Heritage is indebted.”

Joe Mahon, presenter of Lesser Spotted Ulster and Mahon’s Way:

“The Hands-on Heritage Project moves the whole business of heritage conservation into the 21st century. It is technologically savvy, user-friendly and above all, it empowers us ordinary mortals to have a positive impact on our built environment in practical and constructive ways.”

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

We are delighted to support the Hands-On Heritage project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the unique heritage sites across Northern Ireland.

Heritage has a huge role to play in instilling pride in communities and boosting local economies across Northern Ireland, and this project is a fantastic example of how working with communities directly can help to achieve those aims.”