Belfast City Hall


Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall is the civic building of the Belfast City Council. Located in Donegall Square, it faces north and effectively divides the commercial and business areas of the city centre.

History

Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria. This was in recognition of Belfast's rapid expansion and thriving linen, rope-making, shipbuilding and engineering industries. During this period Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the most populous city on the island of Ireland. [ [http://www.victorianweb.org/art/architecture/misc/30.html The Victorian Web, National University of Singapore] ]

Construction began in 1898 under the supervision of architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas and was completed in 1906 at a cost of £369,000. Local firms H&J Martin and WH Stephens were among the companies involved in construction.

The city hall in Durban, South Africa is almost an exact replica of Belfast's City Hall. It was built in 1910 and designed by Stanley G. Hudson, who was inspired by the Belfast design.

On August 1, 2006 the city hall celebrated its centenary with a "Century Of Memories" exhibition and family picnic day. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/5233058.stm BBC news] ]

Exterior

The exterior is built mainly from Portland stone and is in the Classical Renaissance style. [ [http://www.irish-architecture.com/buildings_ireland/antrim/belfast/20thc/cityhall.html Irish Architecture] ] It covers an area of one and a half acres and has an enclosed courtyard.

Featuring towers at each of the four corners, with a lantern-crowned convert|173|ft|m|abbr=on brass dome in the centre, the City Hall dominates the city centre skyline. As with other Victorian buildings in the city centre, the City Hall's copper-coated domes are a distinctive green. The pediment sculpture is by F. W. Pomeroy.

Interior

The interior has a number of notable features including The Porte-Cochère and Grand Entrance, The Grand Staircase, The Reception Room and The Great Hall. The latter was destroyed during the Belfast blitz and subsequently rebuilt.

Carrara, Pavonazzo and Brescia marbles are used extensively throughout the building as are stained glass windows featuring among others the Belfast Coat of Arms, portraits of Queen Victoria and King William III and shields of the Provinces of Ireland.

Various memorials are located in the building, including ones to Frederick Robert Chichester, Earl of Belfast, Sir Crawford and Lady McCullagh and the 36th (Ulster) Division.

Grounds

The gardens surrounding the City Hall are a popular with office workers taking their lunch in the summer months, as well as tourists and teenagers gathering in their dozens to enjoy the green.

Various statues stand in the grounds, including one of Queen Victoria by Sir Thomas Brock. There is also a granite column dedicated to the American Expeditionary Force, many of whom were based in Belfast prior to D-Day.

Brock also designed the marble figure of "Thane", in memorial to the victims of the sinking of the RMS "Titanic". The ship was built in Harland and Wolff's shipyard located in the east of the city. The monument was originally located at the front gate of City Hall, at the junction of Donegall Square North and Donegall Place.

There is a memorial to Sir Edward Harland, the former head of the Harland and Wolff shipyard and Mayor of Belfast from 1885 to 1886. It too was sculpted by Thomas Brock. [ [http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk Belfast City Council ] ]

The grounds also house Northern Ireland's main war memorial, The Garden of Remembrance and Cenotaph, at which wreathes are laid on Remembrance Day.

James Magennis VC, the only Northern Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross during World War II, is also commemorated in the grounds. The Leading Seaman won the medal while serving in the Far East in 1945. A six-foot high memorial to Magennis, made from Portland stone and bronze, stands in front of the City Hall. It was erected in 1999.

On January 3 2006 Belfast City Councillors ratified a plan to erect a statue to the late Belfast footballer George Best in the grounds of the City Hall. Following approval from the Best family, the George Best Memorial Trust was created in December 2006. The trust's patron David Healy contributed £1,000 to the estimated total cost of £200,000. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6311253.stm BBC] ]

In October 2007 a 60 m Ferris wheel was constructed in the grounds, giving passengers panoramic views convert|200|ft|m|abbr=on above the city. The wheel has 42 air-conditioned capsules, which can hold up to six adults and two children. It is due to remain until November 2008. [ [http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/cityhall/bigwheel.asp Belfast City Council] ]


References

External links

* [http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/cityhall Belfast City Hall]


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