First Portadown Presbyterian Church

Leo Matheson LTD future proofs 19th century church for generations of worshippers to come…

Leo Matheson Ltd carried out a major renovation job to the First Portadown Presbyterian Church along with constructing two glazed side extensions and a single storey extension to the rear of the church hall.

The congregation were asked how best to utilise the existing church complex and what works could be undertaken to improve the facilities and to provide welcome facilities and an improved flow of people within the complex. Proposals were prepared and presented by the architects and approved by the congregation in 2016.

The scheme provides a reworking of the existing space and a much needed welcome/gathering area with coffee making facilities and ramped access to the church, additional accessible toilet facilities a multi-purpose room and storage facilities.

The strong frontage of the church onto Bridge Street remains the dominant feature and the new welcome area and side extensions form ‘light’ glazed structures either side of the church.

From the onset, Leo Matheson, the Director knew the project would be complex and rewarding in equal measures. Fortunately the company has successfully completed a number of Ecclasstical projects in recent years, therefore Leo Matheson the Director and Aidan Brown the Project Manager were aware of what challenges might lie ahead.

Originally built in 1822, the elderly building was in a much worse state of repair than was thought. There was a serious damp and dry rot problem forcing a complete strip back to the walls and floor removal. Stronghold Preservations were called in to take on the damp challenge.

“We basically had to gut the building and start from scratch,” said Aidan Brown, Project Manager.

“The damp and dry rot was extensive. We had to replace many rotten timbers in the roof as well as reslating it. The front gable was lying out towards the road, which required tying in with specially made steel brackets chemically anchored to the wall.

“We had to remove the windows. The stained glass was reconditioned and reinstalled while the original arched windows were removed and new versions made and installed which included the original, elaborate frame design.”

Visually, the most impressive work is the replacement 240-seater curved balcony. At first glance it appears to be supported by just two columns, but in fact, the cantilever balcony is supported by hidden steel columns in the wall as per design by structural engineers,Taylor and Boyd, which takes the weight and provides extra visibility for the congregation on the main floor. Glass balustrading replaces the original steel version, which also provides for greater visibility for the balcony congregation

Leo Matheson Ltd carried out a complete overhaul of the electrics, installing state-of-the-art sound systems, lighting and air-conditioning. Underfloor heating was installed, along with radiators fired by three Ideal gas boilers – little chance of this congregation feeling the chill next winter.

The project commenced on site in late October 2019, and was handed over to the client in May 2021, a few months later than originally anticipated due to the impact of Covid-19, which interrupted the project quite significantly.

Based in Castlewellan, Co. Down, Leo Matheson Ltd operates throughout Northern Ireland.

Building for clients in both the public and private sectors, the company has considerable experience working in live environments within schools, colleges and nurseries.

Commenting on the completed project, Aidan said, “We’re delighted to have been able to provide the congregation with a modernised church, future proofed to remain their place of worship for generations to come.

“We have worked with the architects, Knox and Markwell on many previous projects and have a great rapport with them. We always work well as a team, and look forward to many more jobs with them.”

Project Team
Client: First Portadown Presbyterian Church Committee
Main Contractor: Leo Matheson Ltd
Architects: Knox and Markwell
Project Manager: Aidan Brown
Mechanical Contractor: HTC Mechanical
Electrical Contractor: KMDL Electrical

Leo Matheson Ltd, 32 Main Street, Castlewellan, Co. Down, BT31 9DG
T: +44 (0)28 4377 1900 – E:

Doorways are the leading supplier of doors, architectural ironmongery, access control and door automation to the construction industry in Northern Ireland, and when the project at First Portadown Presbyterian church came up their technical team were keen to get on board at the earliest possible stage.

Doorways have completed several recent ecclesiastical projects and know only too well the high standards of finish expected in such a job. In the case of this project crown cut white oak veneer was the client’s preference and the quality of the finish is very apparent when you enter the newly refurbished church.

To achieve these exacting standards and to ensure the correct products were specified from the outset the Doorways technical team worked closely with the Leo Matheson’s project team.

“We have completed a number of churches to this specification” said Robert McNeill, Sales Manager for Doorways. “Once the order was received, we provided a detailed schedule of works. From that point, we focused on meeting the project deadlines and worked closely with the foreman to achieve that.”

“Our priority is to support the main contractor by ensuring we deliver the correct solution for the project in terms of quality and fire certification.”

With over 50 years of experience Doorways are also acutely aware of the need to meet the constraints of the contractor’s budget as well as deliver products to site on time and in full.

Commenting on the completed project, Robert said, “Doorways enjoys the challenge of church project work as they tend to focus on higher specification product. The main contractor, Leo Matheson, has done an exceptional job. “

With a growing list of jobs in schools, churches, hotels and the healthcare sector Doorways are proving to be specialists at delivering doors, ironmongery and access control for any construction project.

To discuss further how Doorways can benefit your next construction project,
call Robert: +44 (0)28 9032 2802 or email:

Architects Knox and Markwell were engaged to work on the First Portadown Presbyterian Church project which included general refurbishment, provision of glazed extensions to the sides of the church and a single storey extension to the rear of the church hall.

The scheme provides a rationalisation of existing space and much-needed welcome/gathering areas, which can be used before and after church services.

Based in Bangor, Chartered Architects Knox and Markwell work across a range of sectors, focusing mainly on church work, conservation, private housing and community projects. The practice is led by Partners Brian Knox, Clyde Markwell and Judith Hamilton.


Commenting on the completed project, the Partners state, “This is the latest (and largest) of a number of projects that we have successfully completed with Leo Matheson Ltd over recent years and once again Leo and his team have delivered a high quality project, under exceptional circumstances, within a tight timeframe. We look forward to our next project together!”

T: 028 9145 6677

Simpson & Crawford Consulting Ltd collaborated with Knox & Markwell Architects to provide mechanical and electrical design services for the new church facilities at First Presbyterian Church, Portadown, working closely with main contractor Leo Matheson Ltd.

The mechanical services include highly efficient condensing boilers, underfloor heating and hot water provision, with heat recovery ventilation and full building energy management controls. Electrical services include low energy LED lighting, LED colour change feature lighting and control system, full audio and visual media installations with recording facilities and energy efficient controls. Simpson & Crawford spent time working with church representatives and their various teams to ensure the new church facilities met their requirements, while exceeding the requirements of Building Control, providing energy efficient and sustainable facilities for generations to come.

Commenting on completion of the project, the Directors of Simpson & Crawford said, “We would like to wish everyone at First Presbyterian Church, Portadown every success with their new facilities and look forward to hearing about all the good works that have and will continue to be done by the church.”

T: +44 (0)28 9041 0430

KMDL Engineering (NI) Ltd drew on their vast experience of church refurbishment projects to complete the full electrical installation at First Portadown Presbyterian Church.

Jonathan Stevenson, Contract Manager, has worked on many similar projects and brought a high level of skill and quality workmanship to the job.

KMDL Engineering (NI) Ltd was formed in 2010, and since then, have carried out a large variety of projects to the very high standards required by Managing Director, Ken Maginty.

KMDL Engineering (NI) Ltd work on projects across commercial, industrial, health and education sectors as well as delivering office fit out contracts.

The company provides a first class service and repeat works to their entire customer base, which includes clients from both the public and private spheres. They pride themselves on getting the job done on time and on budget. Workmanship is exemplary, delivered by a long-term, highly experienced team.

KMDL Engineering Ltd have the experience and qualifications to carry out the full range of electrical installations throughout Northern Ireland and look forward to increasing their work portfolio over the coming years.

T: +44 (0)28 9045 7197

Linton Contracts Ltd had the exacting job of painting and decorating a mixture of old and new features to provide a seamless finish for First Portadown Presbyterian Church.

Such a responsibility could only be handed over to a highly skilled and experienced company, which is why Linton Contracts Ltd 35 years in the trade was awarded the job.

There were a number of challenges to this project, primarily the large amount of preparation work that was required to the timbers prior to painting the existing ceiling in the main part of the Church.

But this was all in a days work, said Liam Linton, Linton Contracts Ltd. “We pride ourselves on always delivering quality work on schedule and within budget, which is all down to our great staff,” he added.

This was the company’s second church completed for main contractor Leo Matheson, and they look forward to many more projects in the future.


Quality suppliers and installers of suspended ceilings, metal partitions and specialist joinery, Mulderg Interior Linings Ltd supplied and installed all suspended ceilings to the First Portadown Presbyterian Church.

Mulderg Interiors is fast becoming a ‘preferred client subcontractor’ for major projects within commercial and public sectors throughout Northern Ireland and the UK. They carry out all aspects of dry lining, plastering, metal stud partitioning, screeding, coving, external rendering and suspended ceilings.

They have extensive experience in the design, supply and installation of integrated proprietary metal and mineral fibre suspended ceiling systems that incorporate luminaries, air grilles and ancillary services.

“Our main objectives are to achieve the best quality workmanship, keep the project on budget and complete within the given timescale,” says Mark Gormley, Director at Mulderg Interior Linings Ltd.”

“The project with Leo Matheson turned out really well. The team ensured the job went very smoothly and we’re looking forward to working with them on future projects.” We’re looking forward to working with them again.”

T: +44 (0)77 202 40212;
E: or

Clerk Fencing designed, manufactured and installed a wide range of metalwork at First Portadown Presbyterian Church.

The full works included: internal handrail, railings, curved and straight glass panels, glass balustrades, double gate, external tubular handrails and railings to the front of the building.

From their fabrication plant in Rostrevor, County Down, Clerk Fencing’s professional team work on both residential household and larger commercial projects, from identifying customer requirements, through product design to manufacture installation as well as after sales.

Clerk Fencing was created in 1986, by Frank Clerkin in a small shed beside his house. It has now moved across the road and has two full workshops, offices and powder coating plant. From this location, they also design, manufacture and install stairways, balconies, walkways, bollards and barriers. They are also renowned for the high standards of restoration work on existing iron works, either in-situ or in their workshop.

T: +44 (0)28 4173 9776

An ecclesiastically and architecturally important project like First Portadown Presbyterian Church required expert workmanship from all construction and design teams working on the building. Bann Architectural Systems certainly fit the bill; the company has been operating since 2010 and has experience working across a variety of sectors throughout Northern Ireland.

A range of high specification products were manufactured and fitted by Bann Architectural Systems for the First Portadown Presbyterian Church including aluminium windows and glazing, along with a bespoke curtain walling system. Bespoke framing was also required for the project.

Work was completed on time, allowing the other design teams to complete their own scope of works.

Bann Architectural Systems’ experienced and knowledgeable staff are well equipped to deal with any and all challenges that may crop up on a project. “We were delighted to be involved on this project. There were some very specific requirements such as the bespoke curtain walling system, but nothing we haven’t encountered before. We’re proud to have worked on such a prestigious project,” said Kyle Bowman, Director at Bann Architectural Systems.

T: 028 9269 8855

Stronghold Preservation delivered a range of preservation, waterproofing and structural repair services for the First Portadown Presbyterian Church project.

The full scope of work included control of rising damp, wet rot, dry rot and woodworm infestation along with vertical waterproofing of the masonry walls, Newton membrane and structural repairs of masonry.

For over 30 years, Stronghold Preservation has built a reputation as a leading specialist in the preservation sector. It has expanded to include a wide range of structural repair and

restoration services for listed and historic buildings and structures and also specialises in new build basement waterproofing.

Stronghold Preservation places particular emphasis on the repair and restoration of heritage and listed buildings and has a wealth of experience within the conservation sector. With a commitment to excellence in their field, they are always striving to improve and develop their range of products and services, seeking out new and innovative solutions.

T: +44 (0)28 8674 8572