GREAT VICTORIA STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IS NOT ON GREAT VICTORIA STREET
I think that this building has been painted different colours a number of times since I photographed it in 2014 which is a pity because I much preferred to original combination. I am not saying that I do not like the current paint-job because I appeals to me as it currently is.
The building, described as classical stucco, was built to accommodate 800. It was designed by ‘Mr McNea’ and it opened in January 1861. It was originally the Sandy Row Presbyterian Church.
It never struck me before that this church is not actually on Great Victoria Street. It is in fact positioned at the corner of Stroud Street and Shaftesbury Square where there is a large number of derelict buildings and sites. It should be mentioned that Stroud Street is well known for its murals.
I was in the area as I was looking for Shaftesbury Square, which I thought was a public park, but I eventually discovered that there is no entity that could be described as a square and that it is an area that was once described as the crowning glory of Belfast’s “golden mile” which stretched from Lisburn Road along the full length of Great Victoria Street. In recent decades there has been a steady decline and is now noted for its empty premises and dilapidated facades. I must admit that I have visited the area many times but was unaware of its past reputation.
The square, first recorded in 1887, was named after the Earl of Shaftesbury. Lord Shaftesbury was Lord Lieutenant of Belfast from 1904 to 1911 and Lord Lieutenant of Dorset from 1916 to 1952. He was also Lord Mayor of Belfast 1907 and Chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast 1909–1923.