“As a paved road the Shankill dates back to around the sixteenth century as at the time it was part of the main road to Antrim, a role now filled by the A6. The lower sections of the Shankill Road were in former times the edge of Belfast with both Boundary Street on the lower Shankill and Townsend Street in the middle Shankill taking their names from the fact that at the time they were built they marked the approximate end of Belfast.

In 1983, a small number of business people were invited by Bishop Cathal Daly and Presbyterian Moderator John Dunlop to consider the possibility of transforming a near derelict industrial estate in Townsend Street, Belfast into a community based business. This site could, in turn accommodate businesses which then could employ local people in a politically neutral environment. The idea was to use economic development as a means of increasing the social and political stability of the Townsend Street district which at that time continued to be subject to daily disturbances sometimes on a major scale involving firearms, petrol bombs and much worse.