I only visited this station once and that was in 2016 and it was not a pleasant experience because of the lack of space. According to some that I spoke with it cannot cope with demand during morning or evening rush-hour.
Great Victoria Street is a railway station serving the city centre of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is one of two major stations in the city, along with Lanyon Place, and is one of the four stations located in the city centre, the others being Lanyon Place, Botanic and City Hospital. It is situated near Great Victoria Street, one of Belfast’s premier commercial zones, and Sandy Row. It is also in a more central position than Lanyon Place (ironically named Belfast Central until September 2018), with the Europa Hotel, Grand Opera House and The Crown Liquor Saloon all nearby.
Great Victoria Street station shares a site with Europa Buscentre, the primary bus station serving Belfast City Centre. It will be replaced by Belfast Grand Central station, a combined bus and railway station, by 2025.
The station is on the site of a former linen mill, beside where Durham Street crossed the Blackstaff River at the Saltwater (now Boyne) Bridge.
The Ulster Railway opened the first station on 12 August 1839. A new terminal building, probably designed by Ulster Railway engineer John Godwin, was completed in 1848. Godwin later founded the School of Civil Engineering at Queen’s College.
The station, built directly on Victoria Street, was Belfast’s first railway terminus, and as such was called just “Belfast” until 1852. By this time, two other railway companies had opened termini in Belfast, so the Ulster Railway renamed its terminus “Belfast Victoria Street” for clarity. In 1855 the Dublin and Belfast Junction Railway was completed, making Victoria Street the terminus for one of the most important main lines in Ireland. The Ulster Railway changed the station name again to “Great Victoria Street” in 1856, in line with a change of the street name.
In 1876 the Ulster Railway became part of the Great Northern Railway (GNR), making Great Victoria Street the terminus for a network that extended south to Dublin and west to Derry and Bundoran.
Express passenger traffic to and from Dublin Connolly station was always Great Victoria Street’s most prestigious traffic. The GNR upgraded its expresses over the decades and in 1947 introduced the Enterprise non-stop service between the two capitals. As Belfast suburbs grew, commuter traffic also grew in volume.
In 1958, the Ulster Transport Authority took over Northern Ireland’s bus and rail services. Three years later Great Victoria Street station was modernised, and a bus centre incorporated into the facility. Then in 1968, a large section of the 1848 terminal building was demolished to make way for the development of the Europa Hotel, which opened in 1971. In April 1976 Northern Ireland Railways closed both Great Victoria Street and the Belfast Queen’s Quay terminus of the Bangor line and replaced them both with a new Belfast Central Station, now renamed Lanyon Place. The remainder of Great Victoria Street station was demolished.
After a feasibility study was commissioned in 1986 it was agreed that a new development on the site, incorporating the reintroduction of the Great Northern Railway, was viable. The Great Northern Tower had already been built on the site of the old station terminus in 1992, and so the second Great Victoria Street Station was built behind the tower block, yards from the site of its predecessor. The new station was opened on 30 September 1995.
The current station has two island platforms providing a total of four platform faces. Platforms 2 and 3 run the full length of the site and open onto the station’s main concourse. Platforms 1 and 4 are half the length and are accessible by walking down the other platforms.
A few years ago, while I was in the process of photographing this memorial, a passerby asked me why I was interested in a statue of an American soldier.
There are a number of memorials to Belfast’s Spanish volunteers, from this bronze statue at Writers’ Square, opposite St Anne’s Cathedral, to the plaque in The John Hewitt bar. Note: Hewitt and his wife, Roberta, took housed Basque refugees during the Spanish Civil War.
In the 1930s, nearly 1,000 Irishmen followed in the long tradition of foreign service by enlisting to fight in the Spanish Civil War; some fought with the Nationalist forces and others joined the Republicans.
The plaque reads:
Dedicated to the people of Belfast, the island of Ireland and beyond who joined the XV International Brigade to fight Fascism in the Spanish Civil War 1936 – 1939, and those men and women from all traditions who supported the Spanish working people and their Republic.
This sculpture was commissioned by the International Brigade Commemoration Committee and unveiled by Bob Doyle International Brigade veteran on 13th October 2007.
Sculpted by Anto Brennan. Erected by the Open Window Production Team. Gerard Brennan
I assume that this is a bollard that looks like a chess piece. I photographed it as I did not see any other similar bollards during my 2022 visit.
The oldest building in Belfast is Clifton House, built in the early 1770s as the Poorhouse.
Back in I was contacted by a follower who mentioned that it should be Donegal not Donegall but in this case they were wrong. When I was six years of age I lived in Donegal and we visited Belfast on a regular basis and one day I noticed that a street sign Donegall rather than Donegal and when I asked my father about he said that it was a very old spelling error and that no one could be bothered to change it. Later I discovered that my father did know exactly why but he felt that it was too complicated to explain in detail.
Arthur Chichester, who was granted a charter for the city in 1613. When he and his descendants were made Earls of Donegal for services rendered a clerical error led to them becoming Earls of Donegall.
Donegall Square is a square in the centre of Belfast. In the centre is Belfast City Hall, the headquarters of Belfast City Council. Each side of the square is named according to its geographical location, i.e. Donegall Square North, South, East and West. It is named after the Donegall family. Other streets to bear their name in Belfast are Donegall Road, Donegall Pass and Donegall Street. Donegall Place, the city’s main shopping street, runs from the north side of the square.
Ever since I was about four years old I really liked visiting Belfast and I now still visit at once a year to spend a week photographing the built environment. One thing that I have noticed about Belfast is that there are many once attractive buildings in the city but many of them are unoccupied or could even be described as derelict and this is especially true in and around Donegall Street.
To make things worse, about six or seven months after I last visited the area there was a major fire which resulted in a report by an engineer indicating that repairs following a major fire in the Cathedral Quarter are likely to take years and that a cordon may need to remain around the listed Old Cathedral Building on Donegall Street, restricting access for several business owners, pedestrians and traffic.
Over the years, Ulster Architectural Heritage has repeatedly voiced concerns about the degradation of Belfast’s built heritage and here is an example of what they have to say:
“Once probably the most completely Victorian city in the British Isles, many of Belfast’s 19th century buildings have been demolished for road schemes, housing estates and commercial developments. Many of the remaining historic buildings within the city centre lie vacant, some even open to the elements, and with all sense of pride or purpose gone they have become a backdrop for anti-social behaviour and vandalism. Too often, it seems, developers acquire properties without thought for their possible restoration, often evicting long-standing family businesses and either blocking the buildings up or demolishing them outright while they seek planning permissions, in the process further eroding Belfast’s sense of place and character. The problem does not just lie with buildings that are completely vacant. Looking up above the ground floor on any street within the city centre, including core streets like Donegall Place, Royal Avenue, High Street and Castle Place, the majority of the upper storeys lie neglected and vacant, a trend which has been accelerated with the rise in online shopping. At the moment there are few incentives for developers to see their empty buildings brought into use. Buildings are acquired for their land value rather than because the new owners want to see them restored, or even perhaps like them. The buildings are often neglected because of an inability to see their potential for re-use.”
Saint Malachy’s Church is a Catholic Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is located in Alfred Street, a short distance from Belfast City Hall , though it precedes that building by over 60 years. The Church is the focal point of the local parish community, also Saint Malachy’s, one of the 88 parishes in the Diocese of Down and Connor. It is third oldest Catholic Church in the city of Belfast.
In the beginning Saint Malachy’s was served by priests from St Mary’s Church, Belfast until the Parish of Saint Malachy was created in 1866 and Fr Geoffrey Brennan, a native of Kilkenny, was appointed Administrator. The first Parish Priest of Saint Malachy’s, a post created in 1909, was Fr Daniel McCashin.
The area of the city around Saint Malachy’s was dramatically re-developed from the early 1980s. That period of urban planning, and the age of the church itself, led to a deterioration in the condition of the brickwork meaning a full scale Restoration Programme which began in January 2008 and was completed in 2009 at a cost of £3,500,000. The interior of the Church was also restored.
The ornate stencilling around the Sanctuary, painted over in the 1950s, was restored as were the Altar Rails and the intricate mosaic floor. The Solemn Re-Opening and Dedication of the Altar was celebrated on 29 March 2009 by the Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Noel Treanor in the presence of the Bishop Emeritus Dr Patrick Walsh.
This was the first time that Saint Malachy’s had been closed for an extended period since the Church was opened in 1844. During the Restoration, Nuptial and Requiem Masses were celebrated in neighbouring Churches.