Belfast City Hall

City Hall marks the high point in Belfast’s industrial prosperity

Designed by Alfred Brumwell Thomas, Belfast City Hall was built between 1896 and 1906 on the site of the old White Linen Hall. The building marks the high point of Belfast’s industrial prosperity and civic growth, with city status achieved in 1888. A central courtyard is surrounded by 92m of Portland stone, the same stone used in the recent Waterfront Hall and new Law Courts complex.  The 53m Ionic dome and corner towers recollect those of St Paul’s cathedral in London.

The front of the building, facing Donegall Square North, is obscured by a porte-cochere and a statue of Queen Victoria sculpted by Thomas Brock RA. Much of the ornamentation here and in the interior spaces is overstated and Brett suggests that the pediment carving, of various personifications of commerce and culture, is ‘spirited if much overcrowded’.

The rear view from Linen Hall Street is, however, strikingly restrained and dignified. On the whole the City Hall deserves Hugh Dixon’s acknowledgment of its ‘satisfying poise’ and ‘assured presence’.

Further Reading

An Introduction to Ulster Architecture (1975) by Hugh Dixon; Buildings of Belfast 1700-1914 (1985) by CEB Brett.  

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