THE GASWORKS AND CROMAC PLACE IN BELFAST AND NEARBY
The area that I photographed included Cromac Street, Ormeau Road and Avenue and Donegall Pass.
The distinctive funnel and clock tower mark the place where the city’s gas-making industry began production in the 19th century. The Gasworks is a quiet place to escape from the bustle of the nearby city centre. It’s a starting point for a pleasant walk or cycle along the River Lagan.
The area at the start of the Ormeau Road is not known by a single name but contains a number of features. Close to the Markets area are the Belfast Gasworks, originally built in the 19th century and remaining open for its original purpose until 1988. The area has been substantially redeveloped under the Laganside Corporation and now includes a number of office buildings for companies such as Halifax. The Gasworks is also home to the Radisson Blu Hotel Belfast.
Donegall Pass faces the Gasworks and, for a short period in the 1970s and 1980s, represented a violent interface with the Markets area. Donegall Pass has a rich social history and has a plethora of Chinese shops and restaurants, Indian wholesalers, local cafe and sandwich bars, a pharmacy, churches, antique dealers and a newly opened auction house.
Gasworks was the site of Belfast’s gas-making industry since the 19th century. The site, built on ground owned by the Marquis of Donegall, opened in 1822 and supplied gas for street lighting and domestic and industrial use.
Belfast Corporation used their profits from the gas industry to pay for the construction of Belfast City Hall, which opened in 1906.
By the end of World War II in 1945, around 120,000 people were using gas from the Gasworks site. But by the 1960s, demand declined as new technologies began to emerge and production finally stopped altogether in 1985.
The council bought the Gasworks site together with central government and the Laganside Corporation, in the early 1990s. The land was considered unsuitable for most uses, due to contamination, but a major refurbishment programme, part-funded by the European Union, soon turned the area into a modern business park.