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Cathedral Quarter - Belfast City Council

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Cathedral Quarter

A visitor guide to its historic buildings

Spot the panels

This guide accompanies a series of bronze

interpretative panels erected in the Cathedral Quarter

by Belfast City Council, in partnership with the

Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. The Society’s

concept was to produce a symbol in relief, relating to

the history of the building or street on which the

panel is located, with explanatory text below.

Local artist Katherine Nixon won the Belfast City

Council commission and she has worked closely

with John Lavelle of J.L. Ornamental Castings to

produce memorable panels which blend into their

surroundings. This is Belfast’s sole remaining

commercial foundry, which is particularly fitting

given that the city’s first foundry was located just off

Hill Street. Enjoy finding the panels and unearthing

lesser-known snippets about Belfast’s past.

Katherine Nixon

and John Lavelle.

2


3

The guide

We hope you will find this booklet a useful and

entertaining companion to the rich culture and

heritage of Cathedral Quarter. It was designated a

Conservation Area in 1990 as a way of preserving its

unique character as the historic heart of Belfast.

We have suggested a route through the area and

would encourage you to look both up and down,

examining some of the more interesting buildings.

This will help you understand the way these

intriguing streets have evolved since their

seventeenth century origins.

Buildings are not just brick and stone, mortar and

concrete, but a reflection of the people who ordered

their construction, put them together and used them

over centuries. Architecture connects you to some

of the fascinating citizens from the past and the

entrepreneurs who are developing for the future.

What follows is a snapshot of a dynamic place which

holds claim to be Belfast’s cultural hub. Living

spaces never stand still and as our city evolves here

is a chance to review what connects past and future,

what makes this place so special.

4


5

Evolution of Belfast’s birthplace

Take a wander a few streets back from the main

shopping thoroughfare of Royal Avenue and you’ll

find yourself in the birthplace of the city.

James I gave the settlement of Belfast to Sir Arthur

Chichester and it became a town by the grant of a

royal charter in 1613. As you can see from this

Phillips map, High Street, North Street and Waring

Street can be traced over this 17th century street

pattern.

Sir Arthur Chichester built himself a grand fortified

manor in the area of what is now known as

Cornmarket. This was completely destroyed in a

disastrous fire of 1708. Old Belfast had narrow

property plots, with long gardens to the rear. Some

of the access lanes became ‘entries’ and in some

places you can still see this pattern of development.

6


7

Interior of St George’s

Church

When this church was first

built, choirboys could fish

in the Farset, which still

flowed down High Street!

High Street

This was Belfast’s main street, usually called Front

Street or Fore Street in the seventeenth century.

The open river Farset flowed down the middle until

the mid-1800s. The name Belfast comes from the

Irish, Beal Feirste – ‘mouth of the Farset’. Bridges

once spanned the river at Church Lane, Skipper

Street and Bridge Street. On maps of 1680 and

1685, the street took the form of quays on both

sides of the river, crossed by a series of small

bridges. A market for butter, hides and tallow was

held here by 1694. It was called Front Street at the

time and Ann Street was called Back Street.

Famous residents of High Street included Sir James

Murray, who invented Milk of Magnesia, and the

McCracken family, the best known of whom was

United Irishman, Henry Joy McCracken. He was

executed at the Market House in 1798. The poet Sir

Samuel Ferguson was born in High Street.

St George’s Church, High Street 1811-16 Listed (Opposite)

John Bowden of Dublin designed the two-storey

classical church, built as a chapel for St. Anne’s

parish church (demolished to make way for the

Cathedral). It is built on the site of the Chapel of

the Ford, where travellers could give thanks for the

safe crossing of the Farset.

This sandstone church has Corinthian columns and

a portico which came from the Earl Bishop of Derry’s

unfinished 1788 house near Castledawson, bought

by the Bishop of Down and transported on the Lagan

Canal. The pediment has two badges in the centre

above oak leaf garlands, one of bishop’s keys and

one of the Belfast coat of arms.

High Street was the main commercial and retail

thoroughfare until the focus shifted to Royal Avenue.

The modern buildings on the corner of Bridge Street

were developed to fill in damage caused by the

1941 Blitz.

St George’s Church, High Street


9

High Street in the late 18th century

10


11

The National Bank

St George’s Buildings

The National Bank c 1890 Listed

Designed by William Batt, this was one of the few

buildings in the street to survive the 1941 Blitz.

C.E.B. Brett paints the picture: “it reared its five

proud storeys above a sea of debris”. This survival is

due to the fact that its front wall, floors, chimneys

and roof were constructed using concrete. The

building will be converted into a hotel and tea rooms.

St George’s Buildings 1881 Listed

In 1910 number 43 was home to the Ulster Overcoat

Company which produced the ‘Ulster Overcoat’,

made famous by Sherlock Holmes and Billy Connolly.

St George’s Hall served as Belfast’s first full-time

cinema, showing ‘Bluebeard’ to an audience of 1500

in 1908.

Transport House 1959 Listed

The International Style building by J.J. Brennan

displays a highly distinctive coloured tile mural

containing an airplane, ship, cranes, factory and

marching workers, and is one of the youngest listed

buildings in Northern Ireland. Transport House is

soon to be restored by UNITE.

Headquarters of the Amalgamated Transport and

General Workers’ Union, it became an important

focus for the trade union movement.

Built over what Jonathan Bardon described as the

“decaying and evil-smelling docks”, Victoria Street

was created in 1843 and named following the

Queen’s visit in 1849.

The Albert Memorial Clock 1865-69 Listed

The Albert Memorial Clock is a much loved

landmark building in the city which, as some wag

put it, has “both the time and the inclination”.

W.J. Barre designed the clock tower, which has a

Transport House, High Street


Albert Memorial Clock

base of flying buttresses topped off with crowned

lions clutching shields, above them a statue of

Prince Albert in his garter robes.

The clock was the result of a competition, which

Barre won, with the firm Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon

coming second. When this verdict was reversed, it

transpired that Charles Lanyon (one of the town’s

MPs) had been present and, amidst uproar, the

commission then reverted to Barre.

The clock was restored by Consarc Design for

Belfast City Council, with original decorative

elements such as the pinnacles, crockets and

canopy over Prince Albert reinstated. Stone masons,

McConnells of Kilkeel, Co. Down and sculptor

Gabriel Gilmore were responsible for the stone

restoration and replacement. Lyn Gallagher

describes the scale of the challenge they faced:

“It was reckoned that it would take one man thirteen

years to complete the job. It was at this point that

traditional skills met 21st century technology.

The features were researched, designed and carved

and a machine scanned the newly carved piece, then

copied it and cut it from stone. The stonemason then

finished it by hand”.

Bridge Street

Bridge Street was named after the stone bridge

which crossed the High Street. Patrick Neill, a

Glasgow printer, settled in Belfast in the 1690s and

brought with him his brother-in-law, James Blow.

Blow published the first Bible in Ireland in 1704.

Francis Joy founded the Belfast News Letter here in

1737 at “the sign of the Peacock”.

This area was badly blitzed during the war and was

redeveloped in the 1950s. Compare the buildings

on both sides of Bridge Street. Young and Mackenzie

14

William J. Barre

Barre had set up his

architectural business in

Newry in 1850, before his

21st birthday. A lover of

ornament, Barre was

described as being

“exceedingly partial to the

noble and inexhaustible

Gothic”. Awarded the

Albert Clock competition

after a tussle with Lanyon,

he also won the

competition to design the

Ulster Hall on Bedford

Street in 1860, beating 40

other entries. The elegant

linen warehouse next door,

known as Bryson House,

was another of his

creations. His Provincial

Bank at Castle Place

cleverly houses Tesco

supermarket within its

exuberant interior.

Bridge Street


15

Assembly Rooms /

Northern Bank

Tinderbox’s ‘The Chairs’ at

the old Northern Bank

Charles Lanyon

Belfast’s most famous and

prolific architect, Lanyon

and his partner John Lynn

were responsible for the

architectural set piece at

Queen’s University,

University Road. He was

architect for many of the

city’s finest buildings,

including the Assembly’s

College, Botanic Avenue,

the Custom House, Custom

House Square, Crumlin

Road gaol and courthouse

and Sinclair Seamen’s

Presbyterian Church,

Corporation Street.

were responsible for both the listed neo-Georgian

group and the Festival of Britain block, with its radar

inspired railings.

Waring Street

This street appeared on the maps of 1680 and

1685. Then called Broad Street, it was renamed

Waring Street after the tanner William Waring. It had

become the trading centre of Belfast by the mid 19th

century and a busy commercial street, containing

milliners, tailors, estate agents, shipping agents,

stationers, solicitors and printers. In 1840, five out of

six fish merchants listed in the street directory were

in Waring Street. Sugar refining premises were

opened by George McCartney and by 1683 sixty tons

of sugar were being processed each year. Sugarhouse

Entry is the only remnant of the older street pattern

between High Street and Waring Street.

Assembly Rooms / Northern Bank 1769, 1776, 1845 Listed

This building began life as a single-storey arcaded

market-house in 1769, making it Belfast’s oldest

public building. Known as the Four Corners, at one

time all milestones out of Belfast were measured

from here.

In 1776, Lord Donegall asked London architect,

Robert Taylor to add ‘spacious and elegant’

Assembly Rooms on the first floor. These witnessed

the famous Harp Festival of July 1792. Converted

to a bank by Charles Lanyon in 1845 who faced it

in Italianate stucco, Taylor’s interior was then lost

through William Lynn’s refurbishments of 1895.

Following the bank’s closure the space has been

used to dramatic effect by Tinderbox Theatre

Company. This lynchpin building is now in search

of a secure future, in common with other listed

banks in the city centre.

The Commercial Buildings 1819-22 Listed

Built by public subscription, the Commercial

Buildings were designed by John McCutcheon to

provide “an excellent commercial hotel, a spacious

and handsome newsroom and a piazza for the use

of merchants”.

The three-storey classical building effectively closes

the vista from Donegall Street. Built from grey

Dublin granite, it has five central bays enclosed in

giant order Ionic engaged columns. On a bright day

see how the stone sparkles.

The Northern Whig newspaper (founded by Francis

Dalzell Finlay in 1824) was reeled off here from

1921 to 1963. The derelict building was rescued in

the 1990s by Clanmil Housing Association and now

houses its offices, the Northern Whig bar and a host

of arts organisations.

16

The Commercial Buildings, corner of Waring Street

When the Marquis of

Donegall laid the

foundation stone on St

Patrick’s Day 1819, he

gave money to the

workmen “to drown their

shamrocks”.

Next Pages: Interior of The

Assembly Rooms in Waring

Street in the 18th century


Interior of the Assembly Rooms in the late 18th century


19

War Memorial Building

Thomas Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick’s superb

craftsmanship can be

admired at the Ulster

Bank, the Custom House

and the pair of seed

warehouses built for rival

merchants John Lytle and

Samuel McCausland on

Victoria Street. They have

been converted into the

Malmaison hotel. Marvel

at his creations on the

ground floor façade based

on drawings by James

Kendall. As Brett puts it,

the five continents and

their fruits are symbolised

in a “mouth wateringly

juicy manner”.

The Northern Ireland War Memorial Building 1955

Built as the result of an architectural competition,

the ground floor is set behind distinctive square,

dark grey piloti or pillars. The interior contained a

museum, shrine and Hall of Friendship before it was

transferred to Talbot Street.

Ulster Buildings 1869-70 Listed

The three-storey beige sandstone building alongside

is by Thomas Jackson & Son. Set on a grey granite

plinth with curved end bays, this group shows great

respect for its neighbour. A plaque over the entrance

features the red hand of Ulster.

Ulster Bank 1857-60 Listed

This Italianate Victorian bank was designed by the

young James Hamilton of Glasgow, with carving by

Thomas Fitzpatrick. By the 1850s, the Waring

Street/Donegall Street area was the undoubted

commercial centre of town and banks were adopting

an image of confident and solid respectability.

Sandstone from Scotland was used in this exuberant

Italianate building to create bearded keystones, an

acanthus frieze, tall urns and the sculptured skyline

of Britannia, Justice and Commerce.

The bank is enclosed by lacy cast iron panels,

linking winged lamps ornamented with swags of

roses, the heads of Irish wolfhounds and the red

hand of Ulster.

Ulster Bank relocated their headquarters in 1999 to

new offices near City Hall. But the Ulster Bank

headquarters (a Grade A building) has been carefully

converted into an intimate five star hotel – the

Merchant opened in April 2006. You can admire the

stucco work, mosaics and stained glass of the

magnificent banking hall which is an elegant

restaurant today.

20


James Hamilton

This Glasgow architect is

best known for the

ornamental High Victorian

sandstone Ulster Bank on

Waring Street and Ewart’s

warehouse and offices on

Bedford Street. This

photograph shows the

dining room of the

Merchant Hotel.


23

The Ulster Bank is enclosed

by lacy cast iron panels,

linking winged lamps

ornamented with swags of

roses, the heads of Irish

wolfhounds and the red

hand of Ulster.

Crowds enjoying a Festival

of Fools event at Cotton

Court

Cotton Court 1800-1819 Listed

In the first half of the 19th century the cotton

industry boomed. Opposite the bank is Cotton Court,

a warehouse which now houses the Belfast Print

Workshop and gallery, graphic designers, Craft NI

and a restaurant on the ground floor.

The area in front is overlooked by the Potthouse bar

and provides much needed respite and performance

space in the city centre. It allows you to take in

Artist Eleanor Wheeler’s ceramic map of the

Cathedral Quarter.

Skipper Street

This narrow street existed on the 1685 map and

consisted then of single-storey cottages on the west

side. Skippers of the sailing boats lodged here.

There were two emigration agents in the street in

1850 and several tea merchants.

Nambarrie Tea Company currently has its offices on

the corner of Victoria Street and Waring Street.

Hill Street

Originally called Pot-house Lane, after a pottery

works situated here, Hill Street has been the focus

of public realm works by Laganside Corporation.

The area behind Donegall Street and Waring Street

was a warren of crooked alleyways, courts and lanes,

containing the oldest and poorest residential quarter

of town. Much of the housing was cleared and the

area was given over to stores and, in particular,

bonded warehouses.

The Environment and Heritage Service: Built Heritage

(which looks after monuments and listed buildings in

Northern Ireland) is based at number 5-33, in the

converted warehouse built for the Bushmills Distillery

in 1885. The stucco warehouse opposite was

converted into a performance venue in 2006 - the

Black Box. The Black Box has proved extremely

popular and hosts a wide range of events from

music, drama, readings and lectures.

Todd Architects carved their offices from a 1920s jute

sack warehouse, showing confidence in the area in the

late 1980s, as did Nick’s Warehouse Restaurant.

A solid ten bay red brick warehouse dating from

1905 spans numbers 42 to 52. The small

warehouse located at the end of Hill Street was built

in 1910 and has distinctive Diocletian windows.

Gordon Street

This early route off Hill Street was occupied by

coopers and publicans and was probably named

after John Gordon, an agent of Lord Donegall.

Belfast Community Circus School moved to Gordon

Street in 1999.

OhYeah, a dedicated music centre with recording

space for local bands and providing support for young

musicians, opened at number 15-21 in 2006.

Diocletian windows

“Before we moved to the

area, I always thought that

Cathedral Quarter had a

very special feeling with its

unique streetscape and

architecture, which spoke

of a vibrant history. Now

that the Circus School is

here, I feel a great

excitement from being part

of an evolving cultural

force. As each month goes

by, the buzz builds and

one of these days I'll find

the time to call in to all

these groups and artists

who inhabit the Quarter.”

Will Chamberlain, Belfast

Community Circus School


“The area is accessible from all parts of the city and it

has a number of interesting spaces in which to host

events. There is a rich history of artists and artisans

working here and of progressive thought, a past which

resonates throughout the streets”.

Sean Kelly, Director of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

“We’ve been here since 1989 and I really like the little

streets and atmosphere of the area. I look forward to the

advent of city living and speciality shopping within the

Cathedral Quarter which will create an evening economy

and reinforce the area’s character”. Nick Price, Restaurateur


No 27 Talbot Street Restaurant

Former Corn Exchange 1851 Listed

Erected by a company of the grain merchants of

Belfast, this plain two-storey sandstone building by

Thomas Jackson, on the edge of the Cathedral

Quarter, had shops below a lofty first floor hall. Look

up above the tall loopwork parapet from the open

space to see the crossed sheaves of corn in a central

panel on the gable. The secretary of the Exchange in

1852 was the appropriately named John Seed.

The ornate buff sandstone Heyn Building, also by

Jackson, is directly opposite. It was purpose built

for the Scottish Amicable Life Assurance Company.

There is a recessed arch above the doorway with St

Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, on the keystone.

The Northern Bank alongside is by the architect

Charles Lanyon.

Talbot Street

27-37 Talbot Street c. 1890 Listed

This four-storey red brick warehouse with rounded

bull nose edges to the windows and a diaper brick

pattern above, has been converted to residential and

a mixture of other uses.

Crossed sheaves of corn

Warehouse building in

Talbot Street with diaper

brickwork

28

The Northern Ireland War

Memorial and Home Front

Exhibition Museum opened in

December 2007. It is open to

individuals and school groups.

www.niwarmemorial.org


29

Art College, York Street

Headquarters of the

Belfast Education and

Library Board

Academy Street

Tucked behind the Cathedral, after Exchange Street

West, this street is named after the nondenominational

Belfast Academy established here in

the 18th century by Scottish Presbyterian Minister

Dr James Crombie. Pupils were denied access to

dogs or guns “without the Principal’s permission”.

The astronomer Thomas Romney Robinson, author

George Birmingham and poet Sir Samuel Ferguson

were all pupils of Belfast Academy.

Belfast Education & Library Board 1899-1901 Listed

This red brick warehouse was built for distillers and

blenders, Kirker, Greer and Co. Look up at the

keystone above the door to see their monogram. Its

arcaded parapet and turrets with lanterns make for a

very interesting and eyecatching skyline.

The Art College

The University of Ulster redeveloped the York Street

buildings which housed the Art College, increasing

the number of students from 1025 to around 2000.

The 1930s to 1970s group has been refurbished

and extended. The utilitarian 1935 Orpheus

Building was built as a department store for the

Belfast Co-operative, and the 1965 Warwick

Building was built by Belfast City Architects in the

International Style.

From the art college there is a good view of the fine

turn of the 20th century group on the edge of

Writers’ Square. Cathedral Buildings was recently

added to the schedule of listed buildings.

Donegall Street

“Why is Donegall Street like a spendthrift?” runs the

riddle. “Because it begins with a bank and ends with

the poorhouse.”

Clifton House 1774 Listed

In 1774, the 5th Earl of Donegall contributed the 8

acre site on which Clifton House, the Poor House,

was built. The pedimented brick façade with its

stone spire is a good example of a modest Irish

Georgian public building and it forms an effective

visual bookend for Donegall Street. It contained a

grand room where balls were held to raise funds.

30

Cathedral Buildings have

been granted listed

building status


St Anne’s Cathedral

St Anne’s Cathedral 1904 to present - Listed

This imposing Hiberno-Romanesque Portland stone

cathedral provides the focus for Donegall Street and

the Quarter. Deeply recessed Romanesque doors lead

into a spacious interior, decorated with stained glass

and sculpture by Rosamund Praeger and Morris

Harding whose carvings on the capitals represent

themes such as womanhood and shipbuilding.

By virtue of a special Act of Parliament, Lord Carson

lies buried in the South Aisle.

The building involved 8 architects over 80 years,

starting with Thomas Drew and was constructed

around the 1776 Parish Church of St Anne.

Services were held in the old church until 1903.

The building continues to evolve. Box Architects

won the architectural competition to design a new

spire.

The Brown Linen Hall 1773 - Demolished

The Brown Linen Hall on Donegall Street preceded

White Linen Hall in Donegall Square, which City

Hall then replaced in 1906. In 1771 there were

300 looms in Belfast as linen weaving moved from

the country into the town. The unbleached (brown)

linen was sold here.

32

St Anne’s Church which

once stood on the site of

what is now St Anne’s

Cathedral

Lord Carson who lies

buried in the south aisle of

St Anne’s Cathedral

Thomas Drew

Born in Belfast and son of

the Rector of Christ

Church, Drew was known

as a fluent and witty

speaker. Knighted in

1900, he died in 1910,

not long after the

construction of his section

of St Anne’s Cathedral.


33

Full house for the

Skatelites as part of the

Cathedral Quarter Arts

Festival in Writers’ Square

Above and opposite:

The former News Letter

Building

Above the entrance to

North Street Arcade

Writers’ Square

“Writers’ Square has the potential to become a

hugely exciting and high profile performance space

for the area, as illustrated by performances during

the stunning Festival of Fools organised by Belfast

Community Circus School.”

Heather Floyd, Community Arts Forum

The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival takes place in May

each year and some great performances have taken

place on Writers’ Square. Street performers have

dazzled here skipping over quotations about Belfast’s

famous writers carved into the stone underfoot.

Former News Letter Building 1872 Listed

The News Letter was founded in Joy’s Entry 1737 and

has the distinction of being the oldest daily newspaper

still published in the world. In its early days the paper

was an organ of liberal Presbyterianism and later was

the voice of Ulster Unionism.

This highly ornamented late Victorian Gothic

sandstone building by William Hastings has narrow

pointed windows, grouped into threes, with columns

in between. The central bay has a wrought iron

balcony on the first floor and rises up to an

octagonal lantern and pyramidal roof. It has rich

floral decoration including roses. The roundels

contain the heads of literary men and women.

Today, the Belfast Telegraph is located on Royal

Avenue and the Irish News is nearby at upper

Donegall Street.

North Street Arcade 1936 Listed

The simple, elegant arcade by Cowser and Smyth

was “floored in granolithic and had unified

shopfronts with bronze trims, green marble plinths

and piers.

Former News Letter Building, Donegall Street


35

It bent through 90°, with a domed circular space at

the angle.” Marcus Patton

North Street Arcade was badly fire damaged in April

2004; the possibility of restoration and replication

is being investigated. Look up above the entrance to

see ladies spinning and chatting in a panel taken

from the Brookfield linen warehouse, which the

arcade replaced.

The John Hewitt c. 1870 Listed

This building once housed the printing machinery for

the News Letter and is now a hot bed for cultural

debate. The bar is run by the Belfast Unemployed

Centre and hosts numerous art exhibitions, traditional

music sessions and cultural events including the

annual Open House Traditional Arts Festival.

16-18 Donegall Street c. 1870

Linen and damask manufacturers, Murphy and Orr

had their premises at number 18. This four storey

stucco building behind the Northern Bank has

retained good original detail including pilasters

(flattened columns) and fascias. The round headed

first floor windows have bracket keystones.

36

North Street Arcade before

and after the fire

The John Hewitt bar


37

The corner bollards were

designed to protect the

building from cartwheel

damage

Gerry Adams once pulled

pints at the Duke of York

bar in Commercial Court

Commercial Court

Ironfounder Stewart Hadski leased ground at what is

now Commercial Court and an entry to the “Old

Foundry” is shown on the 1791 map. Home to

Ireland’s first penny newspaper, the Belfast Morning

News (incorporated into the Irish News since 1892),

in the 1860s, it was the best-selling newspaper in

Ulster, thanks to the popularity of the colourful

colmunist Barney McGlone. Barney, whose real name

was Robert A. Wilson, was a Donegal Dissenter and

wrote a daily column in the Ulster dialect entitled ‘To

me cousin in Ameriky’. Dressed in a wide brimmed

sombrero hat and flowing cloak draped like a Roman

toga, he was a familiar figure in Commercial Court

until his death in 1875.

Printers’ Café now sits snugly on the edge of this entry,

where a fluted conical corner bollard on one side and a

half cylinder of iron at the other were designed to protect

the buildings from cartwheel damage.

The Duke of York is a popular meeting place for

journalists, politicians and legal professionals. Gerry

Adams once pulled pints here. The bar was bombed

during the ‘70s but rebuilt in 1975 and again in 1992.

It is one of the oldest licensed premises in Belfast and

today plays host to a wide range of music events.

29-31 Donegall Street 1895

William Batt designed this four storey red brick

building with its diapered gable of brick and terracotta

squares. There are basket-headed arches, roundels

and ornamental keystones on upper floors.

Exchange Place

This entry was in existence in 1819. An iron cannon

acted as a corner bollard here before being removed in

1993. The dark red brick buildings at 2-6 Exchange

Place have a partly curved façade and you might catch

The Duke of York


39

A lying-In hospital was

located at number 25 in

1794

A recent photographic

exhibition at Belfast

Exposed Gallery

might catch a glimpse of Fergus Purdy conserving

and restoring furniture in the building opposite.

25 Donegall Street

The sculptor Anthony Brennan displays his novel

satirical wares on the ground floor of this 18th

century building. Famous subjects have included

Bill Clinton, Mo Mowlam and Ian Paisley.

A Lying-In Hospital was located here in 1794,

relieving “chiefly poor tradesmen’s, labourers’ and

soldiers’ wives”.

23 Donegall Street 1881

The wholesale warehouse by James Mackinnon at

number 23 has an unaltered shopfront and pairs of

round-headed windows above. It was restored by the

Laganside Corporation and provides an ideal home

for a number of arts organisations including Belfast

Exposed, (which has a photographic gallery on the

ground floor), the Belfast Film Festival (and microcinema),

Medi-Able and Northern Visions. Northern

Visions launched a new community television

channel NVTV, to “enable community groups and

individuals in the city to be seen and heard”.

19-21 Donegall Street 1881

A very fine ground floor shopfront survives here with

grey granite columns supporting red sandstone fascia.

Lively uses within would add enormous interest to the

street. The four-storey stucco building has side

pilasters and a panelled parapet. Four round-headed

windows on the first floor form an arcade.

1950s and 1930s buildings in between could

provide residential accommodation in this

underpopulated area, or indeed additional bright

studio space.

“The Cathedral Quarter is steeped in history and has retained a

uniqueness and character which must be preserved. This area of

the city centre offers an opportunity to integrate new and exciting

buildings which reflect the inventiveness and aspirations of the

many cultural groups that are located here. It has the potential to

be populated with small businesses and imaginatively designed

dwellings, creating a place where children can play safely and

where adults enjoy living.”

Dave Hyndman, Northern Visions


23 Donegall Street

Belfast Exposed gallery is on the ground

floor and the offices of Northern Visions

and Belfast Film Festival are above.

Donegall Street


43

Restoration is underway at

this corner site on

Donegall Street

Geese were once driven

from North Street to feed

on fields outside the town

K6 ‘Jubilee Kiosk’

1-3 Donegall Street 1867-72, 1876 Listed

The four-storey stucco curved corner group acts as a

distinctive gateway to Donegall and Waring Street.

The more prominent building right on the corner is

by Thomas Jackson. Its windows are grouped in

pairs and triplets, with moulded arches. Number 3

by William Hastings is more unusual with its parapet

of iron arches and Mannerist decoration. The pair

languished for a number of years, however the

façades are being animated as a hotel is being

developed behind.

North Street

North Street was shown on the 1680 and 1685

maps, when the city wall bisected the street at the

Royal Avenue junction. It then consisted of singlestorey

houses and was known as Goose Lane, since

it was the lane by which geese were driven to feed

on fields outside the town.

In the mid 19th century it was full of small

businesses, leather and iron merchants, shoemakers,

grocers, haberdashers, and umbrella, whip, bellows

and trunk makers.

Although currently down at heel, North Street

retains many good 19th and 20th century buildings

capable of re-use and gap sites awaiting exciting

new development.

K6 ‘Jubilee Kiosk’ 1936 Listed

Architect Giles Gilbert Scott was commissioned to

design a telephone box in 1935 to celebrate King

George V’s jubilee. The earlier K2 version was widely

disliked when first unveiled across Britain. These

distinctive red kiosks began to vanish in the 1980s

and the survivors are now mostly loved and listed.

Construction underway at Waring Street


45

Canada House

St Anne’s Buildings

Canada House 1958

Like it or loathe it, there is no doubt that this

artificial stone post war building cleverly turns the

corner from Bridge Street into North Street, just

before the substantial gap site looms. A mixed use

scheme has been proposed for the area including

the gap site alongside.

Braddell’s c.1890

This four storey red brick gabled building was

refurbished in the 1980s and is now a fishing tackle

shop. Terracotta panels and keystone to the attic

add wonderful texture to the upper floors.

13 to 23 North Street

Here are a couple of unusual late 1920s buildings.

It is the evolution of building styles that makes this

street interesting and which helps define the

character of the conservation area, with their jumble

of details, mixed palette of finishes and relatively

narrow frontages.

The cast stone building with central Diocletian

window was built for hatter and clothier, B. Hyam.

You can spy the letter H on second floor panels.

The three-storey faience (glazed tile) building has

classical details, with giant order Ionic piers. Faience

buildings are extremely rare in Belfast and beyond.

St Anne’s Buildings 1887

Built for linen manufacturer, John Douglas. The

Donegall Street elevation has a central doorcase with

swags of linen and roses attached to the base of the

canted oriel window, which stretches right up to the

third floor.

46

North Street


47

Garfield Street roofscape

The Deer’s Head bar

North Street Arcade 1936 Listed (see Donegall Street)

Prior to an arson attack, this simple, elegant arcade

by Cowser and Smyth housed diverse cultural

organisations, speciality shops and small local

businesses.

56-60 North Street 1896 Listed

This distinctive red brick group with stucco details is

by the firm Graeme, Watt and Tulloch. It curves to

follow the line of Garfield Street and has an

interesting roofscape of octagonal roof lanterns and

corbelled brick chimneys.

Although currently in poor condition, restoration and

re-use will allow the building to play a key role in

the area once more.

The Deer’s Head c.1885

This three-storey red brick building with its curved

return has a well preserved pub frontage, a corner

turret, tall slender chimneys and gable dormers. The

monogram JD stands for John Donnelly who founded

the pub, which remains very popular today.

92-96 North Street 1926 Listed

Designed by James Scott for Sinclairs’ Department

Store, spy the female head keystones, laurel drops

and rosettes on this custard coloured faience

building. It has a similar elevation at 89-93 Royal

Avenue.

The Sinclair Building 1935 Listed

This majestic five storey faience building was also

designed by James Scott for the Department Store.

Sinclair Building


49 49

It is placed at an angle to Royal Avenue and relates

well to the listed Art Deco Bank of Ireland opposite.

It sports a modernistic clock on a zig-zag pediment

and recessed panels marked “S” on the upper

floors.

Royal Avenue

Forster Greens’ Building 1883-84 Listed

Built for tea merchants, the three-storey stucco

building by Thomas Jackson and Son presents a

generous curved façade. It is easy to imagine people

occupying the space at night, with shops on the

ground floor, lending vigilance and vitality to the

heart of the city. The vacated Art Deco Bank of

Ireland across the way and wonderful red brick

Haymarket buildings on Royal Avenue all have

enormous regenerative potential.

50


INDEX & MAP OF THE CATHEDRAL QUARTER AREA

1-3 Donegall Street p.42-43

2-6 Exchange Place p.36

13-23 North Street p.44

16-18 Donegall Street p.35

19-21 Donegall Street p.38

23 Donegall Street p.38/40

25 Donegall Street p.38

27-37 Talbot Street p.27

29-31 Donegall Street p.36

42-52 Hill Street p.23

56-60 North Street p.46

92-96 North Street p.46

Academy Street p.28

Barre, W.J. p.10,13

Batt, William p.10,36

Brennan, J.J. p.10

Bowden, John p.6

Assembly Rooms / Northern Bank, Waring Street p.14

Bank of Ireland, Royal Avenue p.48-49

Belfast Education and Library Board,

Academy Street p.28

Blow, James p.13

Braddells, North Street p.44-45

Bridge Street p.13

Box Architects p.31

Canada House, North Street p.44

Carson, Lord p.31

Cathedral Buildings, Donegall Street p.29

Clifton House, Clifton Street p.29

Commercial Court p.36

Consarc p.13

Corn Exchange Building, Victoria Street p.27

Cotton Court, Waring Street p.22

Cowser and Smyth p.32

Donegall, Earl of p.29

Donegall, Marquis of p.15

Donegall Street p.29

Douglas, John p.44

Drew, Thomas p.31

Duke of York p.36

Environment and Heritage Service p.23

Exchange Place p.36/39

Festival of Britain block, Bridge Street p.14

Ferguson, Sir Samuel p.6

Finlay, Francis Dalzell p.15

Fitzpatrick, Thomas p.18

Former News Letter Building, Donegall Street p.32

Forster Greens’ Building, North Street p.49

Gordon Street p.23

Graeme, Watt and Tulloch p.46

Hamilton, James p.18

Hastings, William p.42

Hyam, B p.44

High Street p.6

Hill Street p.23

Jackson, Thomas & Sons p.18

Joy, Francis p.13

K6 ‘Jubilee Kiosk’, North Street p.42

Kirker, Greer and Co. p.28

Lanyon, Charles p.13-14

Lynn, William p.14

McCracken, Henry Joy p.6

McCutcheon, John p.15

Mackinnon, James p.38

Murray, Sir James p.6

Murphy and Orr p.35

Neill, Patrick p.13

Nick’s Warehouse, Hill Street p.23/25

North Street p.42

North Street Arcade, North Street p.46

(see also Donegall Street) p.32-33

Phillips Map p.4-5

Royal Avenue p.49

Scott, Giles Gilbert p.42

Scott, James p.46

Skipper Street p.22

St Anne’s Buildings, Donegall Street p.44

St George’s Church, High Street p.6-7

St George’s Buildings, High Street p.10

St Anne’s Cathedral, Donegall Street p.30-31

Talbot Street p.27

Taylor, Robert p.14

The Albert Memorial, Victoria Street p.10-13

The Art College, York Street p.28

The Brown Linen Hall, Donegall Street p.31

The Commercial Buildings, Waring Street p.15

The Deer’s Head, North Street p.46

The John Hewitt bar, Donegall Street p.35

The National Bank, High Street p.10

The Sinclair Building, Royal Avenue p.46-49

Todd Architects, Hill Street p.23, 24

Transport House, High Street p.11-12

Ulster Bank, Waring Street p.18

Ulster Buildings, Waring Street p.18

War Memorial Building, Waring Street p.18

Waring Street p.14

Waring, William p.14

Writers’ Square p.32

Young and Mackenzie p.13

Map courtesy of Image Zoo

rch

S T R E E T

R O Y A L A V E N U E

K S T R E E T

U N I O N S T

R O Y A L A V E N U E

Phoenix Records

U N T A I N L A N E

N O R T H Q U E

D O N E G A L L S T R E E T

st Presbyterian Church

E N ' S A R C A D E

D O N E G A L L P L A C E

F R E D E R I C K S T R E E T

F R E D E R I C K S T R E E T

St Anne's Cathedral

N O R T H S T R E E T

C A S T L E P L A C E

BelfastWelcome Centre

Writers Sq

Y O R K S T R E E T

L O M B A R D S T

D O N E G A L L S T R E E T

R O S E M A R Y S T

C A S T L E A R C A D E

C A S T L E L A N E

C A L L E N D E R S T R E E T

W I N E C E L L A R E N T R Y

T A L B O T S T R E E T

C O R N M A R K E T

B R I D G E S T R E E T

Y O R K S T R E E T

G R E A T P A T R I C K S T

A C A D E M Y S T

C O M M E R C I A L C O U R T

A R T H U R S T R E E T

E X C H A N G E P L A C E

B R I D G E S T R E E T

C R O W N E N T R Y

A R T H U R

S Q U A R E

W I L S O N ' S C O U R T

L I T T L E P A T R I C K S T R E E T

S T A N N E S S Q U A R E

J O Y S E N T R Y

G O R D O N S T R E E T

Nick’s Warehouse

H I L L S T

H I G H S T R E E T

W A R I N G S T R E E T

P O T T I N G E R ' S E N T R Y

S K I P P E R S T

A N N S T R E E T

G R E A T G E O R G E ' S S T R E E T

St George's Church

N E L S O N S T R E E T

C H U R C H L A N E

D U N B A R L I N K

D U N B A R L I N K

Oh Yeah Music Centre

Albert Clock

V I C T O R I A S T

C O R P O R A T I O N S T R E E T

W A R I N G S T R E E T

V I C T O R I A S T R E E T

Sinclair Seamen's Presbyterian Church

G A M B L E S T

T O M B S T R E E T

C U S T O M

H O U S E

S Q U A R E

A L B E R T S Q U A R E

A N N S T R E E T

C O R P O R A T I O N S Q

D O N E G A L L Q U A Y

C O R P O R A T I O N S T R E E T

Custom House

O X F O R D S T R E E T

Q U E

Q U


Published May 2008

Publication number 2339

This guide can be downloaded

from our website at

www.belfastcity.gov.uk/culture

We hope you enjoyed exploring this intriguing part of the

city. If you’d like to find out more about Belfast’s

architectural history and the people who shaped it, you

might like to purchase a copy of Central Belfast: An

Historical Gazetteer from the Ulster Architectural Heritage

Society offices at 66 Donegall Pass. Tel: 028 9055 0213

For general visitor information, pop into the Belfast Welcome

Centre at 47 Donegall Place. Tel: 028 9024 6609 or check

out www.gotobelfast.com

Thanks to

Lesley Holmes, Belfast City Council, Marcus Patton, Katherine Nixon,

John Lavelle at J.L. Ornamental Castings, Sarah Gearty, Royal Irish Academy

for use of maps and Benn drawings. Professor Ingrid Allen for use of North

Street Arcade drawing. Patricia McLean, Ulster Museum picture library.

Consultant Historians Dr Eamon Phoenix, Dr Graham Walker, Gordon Lucy,

John Erskine, Joe Graham and the British Museum for use of the Phillips Map.

Additional Sources

Albert Memorial Clock, Lyn Gallagher,

Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2003

Belfast: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, Paul Larmour,

Friar’s Bush Press, 1987

Belfast: An Illustrated History, Jonathan Bardon,

The Blackstaff Press, 1982

Buildings of Belfast 1700-1914, C E B Brett,

Friar’s Bush Press, Revised Edition, 1985

Cathedral Conservation Area Guide,

DoE Planning Service, April 1990

Central Belfast: An Historical Gazetteer, Marcus Patton,

Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1993

City Centre Conservation Area Guide, DoE Planning Service, May 1998

Irish Historic Towns Atlas No.12, Belfast, Part 1, to 1840,

Raymond Gillespie and Stephen A. Royle,

Royal Irish Academy in association with Belfast City Council, 2002

The History of the Town of Belfast, George Benn, 1823

Contacts

Belfast City Council Culture and Arts Unit,

Development Department

028 9027 0461 www.belfastcity.gov.uk/culture

Belfast Welcome Centre

028 9024 6609 www.gotobelfast.com

DoE Environment and Heritage Service (Listed Buildings)

028 9023 5000 www.ehsni.gov.uk

DoE Planning Service (Conservation Areas)

Belfast Division 028 9025 2800 www.planningni.gov.uk

Ulster Architectural Heritage Society

028 9055 0213 www.uahs.org.uk

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