Belfast City Hall

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Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall 2.jpg
Belfast City Hall
General information
Architectural style Baroque Revival
Location Donegall Square
Town or city Belfast
Country Northern Ireland
Coordinates 54°35′47″N5°55′48″W / 54.59639°N 5.93000°W / 54.59639; -5.93000
Current tenants Belfast City Council
Construction started1898
Completed1906
Renovated2009
CostApprox £360,000 [1]
Client Belfast Corporation
HeightRoof – 174 feet (53 m)
Design and construction
Architect Alfred Brumwell Thomas
Quantity surveyorWH Stephens
Main contractorH&J Martin

Belfast City Hall (Irish : Halla na Cathrach Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots: Bilfawst Citie Haw) is the civic building of Belfast City Council located in Donegall Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland. It faces North and effectively divides the commercial and business areas of the city centre.

Irish language Goidelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country.

Ulster Scots dialects dialect

Ulster Scots or Ulster-Scots, also known as Ulster Scotch, Scots-Irish and Ullans, is the Scots language as spoken in parts of Ulster in Ireland. It is generally considered a dialect or group of dialects of Scots, although groups such as the Ulster-Scots Language Society and Ulster-Scots Academy consider it a language in its own right, and the Ulster-Scots Agency and former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure have used the terminology Ulster-Scots language.

Belfast City Council local government body for the city in Northern Ireland

Belfast City Council is the local authority with responsibility for part of the city of Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. The Council serves an estimated population of 333,871 (2011), the largest of any district council in Northern Ireland, while also being the fourth smallest by area. Belfast City Council is the primary council of the Belfast Metropolitan Area, a grouping of six district councils with commuter towns and overspill from Belfast, containing a total population of 579,276.

Contents

History

The White Linen Hall, or the Linen Hall Library as it was in 1888. Now replaced by the City Hall. Linen Hall Library, 1888.jpg
The White Linen Hall, or the Linen Hall Library as it was in 1888. Now replaced by the City Hall.

The site now occupied by Belfast City Hall was once the home of the White Linen Hall, an important international Linen Exchange. The street that runs from the back door of Belfast City Hall through the middle of Linen Quarter is Linen Hall Street. [2]

Linen Quarter, Belfast

The Linen Quarter is the area of Belfast south of the City Hall bounded by Donegall Square South/May Street, Bedford Street, Ormeau Avenue and Cromac Street. The name is derived from the great many linen manufacturers that made their homes in the area and which were so influential in the development of Belfast, a city once referred to as the "Linenopolis".

Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria. This was in recognition of Belfast's rapid expansion and thriving linen, rope-making, shipbuilding and engineering industries. During this period Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the most populous city in Ireland. [3]

City status in the United Kingdom Honorary status granted by royal charter to settlements in the United Kingdom

City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom to a select group of communities: as of 2014, there are 69 cities in the United Kingdom – 51 in England, six in Wales, seven in Scotland and five in Northern Ireland. The holding of city status gives a settlement no special rights. This appellation carries its own prestige and competition for the status is hard-fought.

Queen Victoria British monarch who reigned 1837–1901

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.

Irish linen brand name for linen woven in Ireland

Irish linen is the brand name given to linen produced in Ireland. Linen is cloth woven from, or yarn spun from the flax fibre, which was grown in Ireland for many years before advanced agricultural methods and more suitable climate led to the concentration of quality flax cultivation in northern Europe. Since about the 1950s to 1960s the flax fibre for Irish Linen yarn has been, almost exclusively, imported from France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is bought by spinners who produce yarn and this, in turn, is sold to weavers who produce fabric. Irish linen spinning has now virtually ceased, yarns being imported from places such as the Eastern part of the European Union and China.

Construction began in 1898 under the supervision of architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas and was completed in 1906 at a cost of £369,000. Belfast Corporation, now the council, its their profits from the gas industry to pay for the construction of the Belfast City Hall. Local firms H&J Martin and WH Stephens were among the companies involved in the construction. James G. Gamble, architect, was the clerk of works.

The city hall in Durban, South Africa is almost an exact replica of Belfast's City Hall. [4] It was built in 1910 and designed by Stanley G. Hudson, who was inspired by the Belfast design. The Port of Liverpool Building, designed by Arnold Thornley and completed in 1913, is another very close relative. [5]

Durban Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Durban is the third most populous city in South Africa—after Johannesburg and Cape Town—and the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Located on the east coast of South Africa, Durban is famous for being the busiest port in the country. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches. Durban forms part of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, which includes neighboring towns and has a population of about 3.44 million, making the combined municipality one of the biggest cities on the Indian Ocean coast of the African continent. It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. In 2015, Durban was recognised as one of the New7Wonders Cities. The city was heavily hit by flooding over 4 days from 18 April 2019, leading to 70 deaths and R650 000 000 in damage.

Port of Liverpool Building building located in Liverpool, England

The Port of Liverpool Building is a Grade II* listed building in Liverpool, England. It is located at the Pier Head and, along with the neighbouring Royal Liver Building and Cunard Building, is one of Liverpool's Three Graces, which line the city's waterfront. It is also part of Liverpool's UNESCO-designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.

On 1 August 2006 the City Hall celebrated its centenary with a "Century of Memories" exhibition and family picnic day. [6]

On 3 December 2012, the City Council voted to limit the days that the Union Flag flies from City Hall to no more than 18 designated days. Since 1906, the flag had been flown every day of the year. The move was backed by the Council's Irish nationalist Councillors and by its Alliance Party Councillors. It was opposed by the unionist Councillors, who had enjoyed a majority on the council until the Northern Ireland local elections of 2011. On the night of the vote, unionist and loyalist protesters tried to storm the City Hall. They held protests throughout Northern Ireland, some of which became violent. [7]

Exterior

The grounds of City Hall are popular for relaxation during the summer. In the background are the dome at Victoria Square Shopping Centre and the Belfast Wheel. City Hall in summer.JPG
The grounds of City Hall are popular for relaxation during the summer. In the background are the dome at Victoria Square Shopping Centre and the Belfast Wheel.

The exterior is built mainly from Portland stone and is in the Baroque Revival style. It covers an area of one and a half acres and has an enclosed courtyard.

Featuring towers at each of the four corners, with a lantern-crowned 173 ft (53 m) copper dome in the centre, the City Hall dominates the city centre skyline. As with other Victorian buildings in the city centre, the City Hall's copper-coated domes are a distinctive green.

The Titanic Memorial in Belfast is located on the grounds of Belfast City Hall.

The pediment sculpture is by F. W. Pomeroy, assisted by local carver J. Edgar Winter, and features on the reverse side of the current series of £10, £20, £50 and £100 sterling banknotes issued by the Northern Bank. [8]

Interior

The interior has a number of notable features including the Porte-Cochère and Grand Entrance, the Grand Staircase, the Reception Room and the Great Hall. The latter was destroyed during the Belfast blitz and was subsequently rebuilt.

Carrara, Pavonazzo and Brescia marbles are used extensively throughout the building as are stained glass windows featuring among others the Belfast Coat of Arms, portraits of Queen Victoria and William III and shields of the Provinces of Ireland.

Various memorials are located in the building, including ones to Frederick Robert Chichester, Earl of Belfast, Sir Crawford and Lady McCullagh and the 36th (Ulster) Division.

Grounds and Public Memorials

Garden of Remembrance and The Cenotaph in Belfast Remembrance Belfast.jpg
Garden of Remembrance and The Cenotaph in Belfast

The gardens surrounding the City Hall are popular with office workers taking their lunch in the summer months, as well as tourists and teenagers gathering in their dozens to enjoy the green.

Various statues stand in the grounds, including one of Queen Victoria by Sir Thomas Brock. There is also a granite column dedicated to the American Expeditionary Force, many of whom were based in Belfast prior to D-Day.

Brock also designed the marble figure of Thane, the Titanic Memorial, in memorial to the victims of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The ship was built in Harland and Wolff's shipyard located in the east of the city. The monument was originally located at the front gate of City Hall, at the junction of Donegall Square North and Donegall Place.

There is a memorial to Sir Edward Harland, the former head of the Harland and Wolff shipyard and Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1885 to 1886. It too was sculpted by Thomas Brock. [9]

The grounds also house Northern Ireland's main war memorial, the Garden of Remembrance and Cenotaph, at which wreaths are laid on Remembrance Day.

James Magennis VC, the only Northern Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross during World War II, is also commemorated in the grounds. The Leading Seaman won the medal while serving in the Far East in 1945. A 6-foot-high (1.8 m) memorial to Magennis, made from Portland stone and bronze, stands in front of the City Hall. It was erected in 1999.

On 3 January 2006 Belfast City Councillors ratified a plan to erect a statue to the late Belfast footballer George Best in the grounds of the City Hall. Following approval from the Best family, the George Best Memorial Trust was created in December 2006. The trust's patron David Healy contributed £1,000 to the estimated total cost of £200,000. [10] To date, 2019, this memorial has not be erected.

In October 2007 a 60 m Ferris wheel was constructed in the grounds, giving passengers panoramic views 200 ft (61 m) above the city. The wheel had 42 air-conditioned capsules, which could hold up to six adults and two children. The wheel finally closed at 6:00pm on 11 April 2010 and was removed during May 2010. [11]

In 2008, the Imjin River Memorial was relocated here when the St Patrick's Barracks in Ballymena closed. The memorial commemorates Irish [12] troops lost in the Battle of Chaegunghyon in January 1951 during the Korean War. [13]

See also

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References

  1. Brett, C.E.B. Buildings of Belfast 1700–1914. Page 67. Friar's Bush Press, Belfast, 1985.
  2. The Linen Hall Library, one of Belfast's oldest cultural institutions, that occupies a site in Donegal Square North in front of today's City Hall, started life within the walls of the White Linen Hall.
  3. The Victorian Web, National University of Singapore. Victorianweb.org (12 September 2006).
  4. BBC Schools website. Bbc.co.uk.
  5. Brett, C. E. B. Buildings of Belfast 1700–1914. Belfast: Friar's Bush Press, 1985; p. 65.
  6. BBC news. BBC News (1 August 2006).
  7. "Violence in Belfast after council votes to change Union flag policy" BBC News 3 December 2012 Retrieved 5 December 2012
  8. "Northern Ireland". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Archived from the original on 8 October 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
  9. Belfast City Council. Belfastcity.gov.uk.
  10. BBC. BBC News (30 January 2007).
  11. Belfast City Council Archived 17 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Royal Ulster Rifles Korean Memorial" . Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  13. "War Memorials Trust" . Retrieved 18 April 2014.
Preceded by
none
Home of the
Parliament of Northern Ireland

1921
Succeeded by
Assembly's College Building

Coordinates: 54°35′47″N5°55′48″W / 54.596484°N 5.930053°W / 54.596484; -5.930053