Belfast Naturalists' Field Club.

A guide to Belfast and the counties of Down & Antrim online

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City of Belfast.

(i) Alderman the Right Hon. W. J. Pirrie, p.c,
elected ist January, 1898.

(2) Thomas Henry Ismay, j.p., d.l., Dawpool,

Thurstaston, Cheshire, elected ist Feb.,
1899 ; died 23rd November, 1899.

(3) The Most Hon. the Marquess of Londonderry,

K.G., elected ist March, 1900.

(4) The Most Hon. the Marquess of Dufferin and

Ava, elected ist March, 1900; died 12th
February, 1902.

(5) General Sir George White, v.c, gc.b., etc.,

elected nth May, 1900.

(6) Field-Marshal the Right Hon. Earl Roberts,

v.c, G.C.B., etc., elected 9th October, 1900.

* In the To'wn Book of Belfast, under date 1640, there is an entry
authorizing the payment " For Maces, Arnies, and the Towne Scale, for the
Towne, 26 li."

History arid Progress.



KEEPING pace with the civic changes already referred
to, there have been formed at different periods
The Board of the Belfast Harbour Commis-
sioners, an elected body, who control great and important
trusts (see page 5) ; The Belfast City and District
Water Commissioners, who control the water supply;
The Chamber of Commerce, and various other public
bodies and institutions, such as were rendered necessary
by the ever-increasing requirements of the city.


The various departments of the municipality have their
head(]uarters at the Town Hall in Victoria Street, not far
from the Albert Memorial, while near at hand is the chief
Fire Station, erected in 1893 (it is also the station of the
Ambulance Corps), one of the most complete from every
point of view in the United Kingdom ; while sub-stations
and alarm stations are placed in various parts of the city,
and in telephonic communication with the head office.
It is admitted on all hands that the members of the
Fire Brigade are excelled by none in promptitude and daring.
The Recorder's Court and Police Courts are situated


Guide to Belfast.

immediately behind the present Town Hall. The Royal
Irish Constabulary, who are the guardians of the peace
of the city, have a large and commodious barrack adjacent.
The nominal strength of the force in Belfast, sergeants and
constables, on 31st January, 1901, was 933, at an actual
cost to the city (1900) of ;^i6,732 2s. 2d. The Gas and
Electric Lighting of the city is under the control of a
Committee of the Corporation.

While attending to the material interests of the citizens,
the Corporation have not been unmindful of the health
and pleasurable recreations of the people. There are seven
Public Parks. Withthe exception of Victoria Park, reclaimed
from the lough, they are all tastefully laid out and planted.

THK I'.XLM il-a

and kept in excellent condition. Ormeau Park, of 100
acres, the old seat of the Marquis of Donegall, is a charming
place, full of well grown tunber and laid-out flower gardens ;
Falls Park (44 acres), which adjoins the City Cemetery,
is on the slope near the foot of the Black mountain ;
Botanic Gardens Park (14 acres), adjoining the Queen's
College, has a fine palm-house, fernerv, orchid, and plant-
houses. Tram-cars go from the central junction (Castle
Place) to all the parks : the tram officials will direct visitors.
The other parks are — Alexandra (10 acres), Woodvale
(24 acres), and Dunville (4^ acres). The Dunville Park

History and Pjvgjrss. \j

was presented to the city ; the others were acquired at the
cost of the citizens.

Baths, Wash-houses, and Lodging-houses are estab-
Hshed and conducted in various parts of the city under a
Committee of the Corporation, as are also the Free Public
Library, Art Gallery, and Museum, which are situated
in Royal Avenue.

The beautifully situated and tastefully laid-out City
Cemetery, Falls Road, is another of the many departments
managed by the City Council. The various committees,
which meet regularly at stated times for the transaction of
business, are — Police, Cemetery and Parks, Asylum,
Markets, Lmprovement, Public Health, Finance, Law,
Library and Technical Instruction ; Baths, AVash-
houses, and Lodgings; General Purposes, and several
of special or lesser importance.


A. R. ]'.

The area within the municipal boundary is 16,503 3 26

The valuation of the city for municipal purposes was —

In 1841 ^'i35>ooo

„ 1871 460,802

,, 1891 1,160,051

Corporation redeemable stock outstanding ... _;,{^i,6o8,o3o

Population of the city (190 1 ) 348,965

Parliamentary voters in the four divisions :
North. Suuth. W'ivst. Kast.

12,388 13,669 10,961 18,903

City Taxation :

Houses under ^,20 ... 4/5 in the ;^i.
Houses over ^20 ... 5/- ,,

Poor Rate i/- ,,

Rate per 1,000, based on estimated poi)ulation of 359,000:

Births, 32.1; Heaths from all causes, 21.3;

Zymotic diseases, 2.1.

The County Borough of Belfast returns four members to
the Imperial Parliament.

1 8 Guide to Belfast.


OF the numerous public buildings, none are of early
date or possess any interest for the antiquary. The
city is notable more particularly for its spacious well-
kept streets, and the buildings, at once substantial and hand-
some ; some of the newer business thoroughfares, as Royal
Avenue, are particularly fine. The New City Hall, how-
ever, promises to be the centre of the city. The extensive


business house of Robinson & Cleaver, one of the show-
places of the city, at the corner of Donegall Place ; that of
Richardson, Sons & Owden, facing the City Hall; the
large range of buildings erected by the Scottish Provident
Society, and the Y. M.CA. Buildings, already give the
lead to others in course of erection, or in anticipation, in
the neighbourhood of Donegall Square ; while the New
Technical Institute, on the grounds of the Royal
Academical Institution, and the New Presbyterian
Assembly Hall, now in course of erection, will still further
contribute striking important buildings in the leading streets.
Belfast has its wants fairly well supplied with public
buildings of various kinds — churches, colleges, educational
and other institutions, hospitals, banks, hotels, clubs, etc. ;

History and Progress.


while new districts are being opened up, where lengthening
streets of private houses keep in line with the ever-increasing


Some of the Principal Buildings, &c.

FOR the purpose of viewing the city, no better plan can
be adopted by the stranger than by taking the tram-
lines as the routes to be followed. From Castle
Junction — the centre of the tramway system, and
in the very heart of the city — excursions can be made in
various directions. From the top of a tram-car an
excellent view is obtained, and a few hours may be
profitably and pleasantly spent in this way in getting
a general view of the streets and suburbs.

The most notable monu-
ment in Belfast is the Albert
Memorial Clock Tower at
the foot of High Street, close
to the steamboat quays and
the Custom House. Only
two other monuments at
present stand in our public
streets — statues of eminent
local divines : Dr. Cooke,
opposite the Royal Aca-
demical Institution, and
Dr. Hanna, at Carlisle
Circus. A very handsome
Statue of Her late
Majesty, in commemoration
of her Diamond Jubilee, has
been executed, and will be
placed in front of the New
City Hall facing Donegall
Place. Beside it, one of Sir
Edward Harland,the founder
of the Shipbuilding Works,
is readv for erection. Funds



Guide to Belf(xst.

have also been subscribed on a liberal scale for a great
statue in memory of the late Lord Dufferin. The beautiful
statue of the Earl of Belfast, by Patrick Mad )o well, which
formerly stood on the site of Dr. Cooke's statue, is now in
the Free Library.

Reference may be briefly made to some of the leading
thoroughfares. Standing in Castle Place, opposite the " Bank
Buildings," the eye wanders to the right along Royal
Avenup:, a wide and well built street, which may now be

TOO, rilllii!'5«i




considered the principal thoroughfare of the city, joining, as
it does, several important outlying parts of the town to the
centre. The buildinij;s close at hand are the Provincial
Bank, and next to it the Reform Club; farther on, the
(}rand Central Hotel ; and on the opposite side, the
Royal Avenue Hotel and the offices of the City and
District \\'ArER Commissioners, a handsome building
of red sandstone. The (Genera i. Post Office and the
Free Public Library, Art Gallery, and Museum are also
situated in this street.

History and Progress.


Turning to the left hand is Donegall Place, on a Hne
with Royal Avenue; it also has some very fine places of busi-
ness, with Robinson & Cleaver's at the opposite end. I'his

important street leads direct to the Np:\v City Hall,
occupies the site of the old Linen Hall, cover-
ing about five acres of ground, forming Done-
gall Square. In this neiglibourhood are
situated most of the great linen warehouses
and town offices of the linen

Looking down Castle
Place, the eye is attracted to
the large building on the left
— the Ulster Clur— the
city rendezvous of country
gentlemen a n d w e a 1 1 h y
business mei
opposite, on



n. Directly -^^r^i^S
the right, AiW

where the line of shops
now stands, was the site
of the castle and pleasure
gardens of the great
Lord-Deputy, Lord Arthur

i_llihi 5 1 'J .J J



Guide to Belfast.

Chichester, referred to on page 9. The entrance to the
castle was at the corner of Corn Market. Directly facing
the entrance, on the site of Forster Green's premises,
stood the Old Market House, the centre of corporate
life of the town for many a long day.

Looking from Corn Market down High Street towards
the river, the Albert Memorl\l meets the gaze. This is
one of the oldest (and the principal) streets of old Belfast.

The little river Farset ran down the middle of the street
between green banks in the old days: it is now, happily,
underground. At Bridge Street, a stone bridge crossed the
stream; hence the name. Many fine shops grace this
thoroughfare. Following the tram-line along Bridge Street
to Donegall Street, we come upon the magnificent Cathe-
dral, now being built on the site of the old parish church
of Saint Anne. (See illustration on next page.)

The illustration shows the design, by Sir Thomas Drew,
P.R.H.A., for the Cathedral. At present only the nave and
aisles are being built. The design as a whole must await,
for its realization, a time when larger funds are available.
The first section, the completion of which is expected in
about a year from the present time, will however provide

History and Progirss.


a large church which can be used for all cathedral pur-
poses, and which will hold a congregation of nearly 2,000

Architecturally, the Cathedral will mark an interesting
departure from custom. The traditional Gothic type has
been abandoned, as it was found that a vast outlay would
have been necessary in order to provide a Gothic cathedral
of noble design, and at the same time large enough to meet
the needs of the overflowing population of a modern city.

(Front a Dra7uittg by Sir Thomas Drew.)

Belfast Cathedral is to be Basilican in its general type.
This primitive model has been found to be far more
easily adapted to modern congregational purposes than the
mediaeval type, and to be far less costly in proportion to
the accommodation provided.

Sir Thomas Drew writes : "The new Cathedral will have
a forty-foot nave. The disposition of its parts will be
broader and simpler, with fewer arches springing over wider

24 Guide to Belfast.

spans, than in a typical Gothic church. . . . The plan
and proportion of the church are singularly simple and
arithmetical. A nave of 40 feet, aisles of 20 feet width,
six bays of the nave, each of 20 feet ; the crossing,
transepts, and chancel, each within their piers, square
of 40 feet ; the internal height of the aisle walls 36 feet,
and of the walls of the nave and its clerestory, 72 feet.
. . . The whole length internally when complete will
be 214 feet.

"For what is known as architectural 'style,' the architect
has had to adapt his desi^jn to what seemed to him
harmonious with a Basilican plan. . . . He has adopted
a round-arched treatment, the main suggestion of which
comes from that Byzantine source which impressed itself
on the early church architecture that came through Italy by
way of the South of France to England and Ireland, and
gave us in these countries such noble round arched archi-
tecture as may be seen at Cashel or Durham or Tuam.
The striking 'Romanesque' architecture of southern France
presents, perhaps, the purest type of a noble architecture
which is suggestive to an architect and consonant with the
Basilican plan."

When complete, the Cathedral will be a very large and
impressive building. The nave and its turrets will rise
105 feet above the pavement of Donegall Street. The
summit of the central tower will be 175 feet above the same
level. The great central portal of double doors will form
a very striking and beautiful feature. It is on the same
scale as the west portal of the Cathedral of Genoa. The
entire building will hold a congregation of 4,000.

The beginning of this great work was due to the energy
and enthusiasm of the first Dean of Belfast (the present
Bishop of Cashel) and the generosity of the late Countess
of Shaftesbury. The foundation-stone was laid by the
present Countess of Shaftesbury on 6 September, 1899.

The first section, which is now in process of building,
will cost ^30,000. Of this amount, ;^25,ooo has been
already subscribed. The remaining ;^5,ooo is urgently
required. The rest of the design will be realized, in sections,
when funds are available for the purpose.

History (ind Prosrress.



BELFAST may be said to be fairly well supplied with
places of worship ; some of them are of consider-
able architectural beauty, but most are plain and

Church of Ireland 38

Presbyterian 55

Methodist 33

Roman Catholic 18

Non-Subscribing 5

Various denominations 20

Total 169

Nor is Belfast wanting in
charitable and benevolent
institutions, chiefest among
which is the Royal Hospital,
Frederick Street.

During the year
1897 an impor-
tant project was
undertaken, with
a view of mark-
ing the Diamond
Jubilee of the
Queen, of raising
p/^ioo,ooo for the
purpose of build-
ing a new hospi-
tal. Mrs. Pirrie,
the Lady Mayor-
ess, entered very


project, and, largely owing to her untiring energy, the entire
sum was subscribed. The institution, which will bear the
name of the " Royal Victorl\ Hospital," is being built
on finely situated grounds on Grosvenor Road. Efforts
are being made to secure an adequate endowment fund.
The Mater Infirmorum Hospital, Crumlin Road, a

26 Guide to Belfast.

similar institution for the relief of the sick and suffering,
was erected under the auspices of the Roman Catholic
body, and placed under the care of the Sisters of Mercy.
The total outlay for building and equipping the hospital
was about ^50,000. There are also various other hospitals
for the treatment of special diseases, all of which are doing
good work.

The Belfast Charitable Society is the oldest charity
in Belfast, having been opened for the admission of the
sick in 1752. Since the coming into operation of the Irish
Poor-Law Act, the charity has been in its practical opera-
tions limited to the class of decayed citizens, reduced
tradesmen, artisans, and servants ; the admission being by
election. The institution is supported by voluntary con-
tributions, and by the rental of certain grounds and houses
which have been erected on the land contained in the
original grant. The charitable and benevolent institutions
in the city are numerous and well supported.

County Antrim Court House, Crumlin Road, a
handsome structure with stone portico. It comprises two
commodious courts, the Crown and Record, with adjoining
rooms for the barristers and solicitors engaged, and accom-
modation for the Grand Jury, the County Council, and
County officers. On the opposite side of the road is the
County Jail : an underground passage connects the two

The Military Barracks, North Queen Street, among
the finest and most commodious in Ireland. New barracks
were, a few years ago, erected in Holywood, upon an admir-
able site, known as the Bishop's Palace Grounds, adjacent
to which, on the shore of the lough, is the Kinnegar Rifle
Range, leased by the Government.

The Soldiers' Home, in Clifton Street, a handsome and
commodious building, opened in 1891, has contributed in
no small degree to the welfare of the troops located in the
Belfast garrison.

History ana Progress.



The Theatre
Royal, in Arthur
Square, is a fine
building, with all the
usual arrangements;
the same may be
said of the Opera
House, in Great
Victoria Street: both
theatres are owned
by a limited liability
company. The Em-
pire Music Hall
and the Alhambra
Music Hall are
devoted to variety

Belfast possesses
several very excellent halls for public meetings,
concerts, etc. The Ulster Hall, Bedford
Street, is a commodious structure, capable of
seating 3,500 persons ; it contains a grand
organ, provided by John Mulholland, a wealthy
citizen, at a cost of 3,000 guineas ; there is also
a minor hall, capable of seating 400 persons.
The Belfast Corporation have now purchased the hall.
The Corporation already possess a capacious hall in the
Botanic Gardens Park, termed The Exhibition Hall,
where many important meetings and receptions are held.
The Saint Mary's Hall, close to the Bank Buildings, is
also capable of seating a large audience. The Grosvenor
Hall is a light, commodious structure, capable of holding
a large audience, and is mostly used for popular religious
services. There are also a number of other halls in the
city for meetings and concerts by the citizens of Belfast.

The city is not wanting in opportunities for the enjoyment
of the various forms of athletic Sports, such as cricket,
football, lacrosse, lawn tennis, golf, hockey, and bowling.


Guide to Belfast.

There are also two clubs for the encouragement of aquatic
amusements — the Belfast Boat Club and the Commercial
BoATiNc; Club. The Royal Ulster Yacht Club has
its club-house at Bangor, Co. Down. There are also several
successful Swimming Clubs in the city.


THE Queen's College is a stately edifice in the
Tudor-Gothic style of architecture ; finely situated
in its own grounds of eleven acres, at the west
end — the most beautiful building in the city.


This college, which has sister institutions in Cork and
Galway, originally formed the Queen's University. The
distinguished alumni are to be found in all parts of the
world. In the Royal University of Ireland, which took
its place, the Belfast Queen's College continues to hold
the premier place.

On Saturday, nth August, 1849, Queen Victoria and
Prince Albert visited the college previous to its opening
at the latter end of the same year. Adjoining the college
grounds is the Botanic Gardens Park, one of the most
beautiful of the public parks.

History (Jfid Progress.


The Presbyterian College, a handsome block of stone
buildings in the classic style, which stands a short distance
from Queen's College, was opened in 1853. 'I'his college,
with Magee College, Derry, now grants theological degrees
in connection with the General Assembly of ihe Presl)yterian
Church in Ireland.

The Royal Academical Institution, College Square,
founded in 1807 (opened in 1810), at a cost of ;^30,ooo,
raised by public subscription. Many eminent scholars and
statesmen received iheir early training in this great public
institution. The new Technical Institute will be built upon
portion of the grounds in front.

Belfast Royal Academy, Cliftonville, originally founded
in 1785 as "The Belfast Academy." In 1876 the present
beautiful building was erected on the outskirts of the


The Methodist College (opened in 1868) comprises an
extensive range of buildings of considerat)]e architectural
beauty ; is in close proximity to Queen's College. It is used
as a Theological Training School for candidates for the
ministry of the Methodist Society in Ireland, and as a
high-class public school for boys and girls.


Guide to Belfast,

The Campbell College (opened in 1894) is situated in
the beautiful demesne of Belmont, at the terminus of one
of the tramway lines on the County Down side, 3^, miles
from Castle Junction. It was founded in accordance with
the will of the late H. J. Campbell of Craigavad, County
Down, who left a legacy of about ^200,000 for the building
and endowment of a high-class public school.


Victoria College, The Crescent (founded in 1859 by
Mrs. Byers for the education of girls), has had a most
successful career in the higher education of women.

St. Malachy's Diocesan College, at Vicinage, a short
distance from Carlisle Circus. This Roman Catholic
College provides education for boys in all branches of

There are numerous educational establishments of a high
class in or near the city, of which the foregoing are the

Of public institutions of an educational character may be
briefly mentioned the Free Public Library, Art Gallery,
AND Museum, Royal Avenue (opened in 1888); is one of the
finest buildings in Belfast. Besides the lending and reference
departments, it contains a good collection of antiquities
and natural history objects, presented to the city by the
late Canon Grainger. A bronze statue of the Earl of
Belfast, by MacDowell, a native of the city (who executed
the figures of William Pitt, Lord Chatham, and Viscount
Exmouth, in St. Stephen's Hall, Westminster, and one of

History and Pi'Oi^ress.


the groups at the Albert Memorial, Hyde Park), adorns the
large hall of the reference library. The Library and
Technical Committee of the Corporation also conduct,
under the Agricultural and Technical Education Act, a
School of Art, and a number of technical classes in
temporary premises in various {)arts of the city.


The Museum of the Natural History and Philo-
sophical Society, College Square North (founded in 182 i ),
contains a good collection of objects. The antiquity-room
contains a large series of examples, mainly from the North
of Ireland, gathered by the late George Benn. Local
archaeology is illustrated by collections contributed by
many other antiquarian students. The museum embraces
an excellent series of the departments of geology, zoology,
and botany. The Belfast Naturalists' Field Club,
now in its fortieth year, holds its winter meetings in
the museum. The Linen Hall Library, Donegall Square,
or, more accurately speaking, the Belfast Society for Pro-
moting Knowledge, was established in 1788. Until recently
the library was kept, and the meetings of the society
were held, in the central building of the Linen Hall;
hence the name which it has so long borne. Since

32 Guide to Belfast.

the purchase of the Linen Hall site by the Corporation,
the library has been removed to a spacious building close
by. Among its literary treasures it contains the Gibson
Collection of Burns and Burnsiana, a unique collection
of over one thousand volumes.

Working Men's Institute and Temperance Hall,
a commodious building at the corner of Castle Street and
Queen Street; contains a news-room, an amusement-room
and library, and also a laru,e lecture and concert hall. The
institute was founded in 1873, and was inaugurated by Lord
Dufferin. Science and technical classes, under the auspices
of the Corporation, are held here.

The Young Men's Christian Association, Wellington
Place, possess a splendidly-equipped building, with class-
rooms, gymnasiums, and lecture halls, with appointments
of the most complete kind in every way, capable of doing
excellent work.

The Belfast Art Society, established in 1880, has a
suite of rooms at 49, Queen Street, and holds its annual

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Online LibraryBelfast Naturalists' Field ClubA guide to Belfast and the counties of Down & Antrim → online text (page 2 of 21)