Thursday, 27 April 2017

Laganview House

Bank of Ireland Chambers

93-95, ANN STREET, BELFAST, occupies a corner site which returns to 1, Oxford Street.

It comprises a three-storey, L-shaped, red-brick block with an attic floor.

The southern elevation is abutted by a three-storey building; whereas the western side comprises four storeys.

The ground floor has a door to the west with a sandstone pediment on brackets above the moulded granite architrave.

Dormer copings (below) boast octagonal finials, panels with relief carvings of urns and foliate decoration over dentilled cornices.


The building is situated on a prominent corner of Ann Street and Oxford Street, facing the river Lagan and Queen's Bridge.

Riddel's Warehouse, at 87-91 Ann Street, stands directly beside Laganview House.

Ann Street elevation

The building was constructed in 1899 and designed by the architects Millar & Symes.

Construction of the Bank of Ireland (Queen's Bridge branch) began in the same year.

Aside from operating as a bank branch, the upper floors of Bank of Ireland Chambers were utilised as office space for a variety of local firms and organisations.

In 1907, for instance, the offices were occupied by insurance firms, grain merchants, and the headquarters of the Belfast Boys' Brigade, among others.
By 1918, the upper offices were occupied by the same Insurance agencies and merchants; however, the Boys' Brigade had vacated the site, whilst new occupants included an engineering firm and a boiler-making company.
During the 2nd World War the upper floors were occupied by the Northern Ireland Port Area Grain & Flour Committee, the Royal Liver Friendly Society, and Government offices.

By the 1950s, many of the upper offices were occupied by the Belfast Mersey & Manchester Steamship Company, a shipping and ferry firm that navigated the route between the two cities.

In 1993, the bank was described by Marcus Patton OBE, in his excellent historical gazetteer of central Belfast, as a
three-storey building in red brick on red sandstone ground floor and grey granite plinth, with attic gable and full height canted bay at chamfered corner entrance; ground floor pilasters with small rosettes at capitals.
In more recent years an attempt to demolish the former bank with the sole retention of the listed facade was rejected by the Planning Appeals Commission.

The former Bank of Ireland Chambers was occupied by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive until 2013.

OX Restaurant

1 Oxford Street is now the premises of the acclaimed restaurant OX.

I passed the premises on a Sunday morning; traffic was light, which made it easy to snap away to my heart's content.

Housing Executive signage remains at the main corner entrance to the block.


The outline of Bank of Ireland signage can still be discerned.

OX restaurant has a simple, unpretentious, almost austere aspect.


A simple sign hangs from the wall.



Its prospect is of the Beacon of Hope sculpture at the Queen's Bridge, at what was known as Canal Quay.

In July, 2013, there was a proposal for a six-storey building comprising restaurant and bar at ground and mezzanine level and 24 apartments on the five floors above, including retention of the existing facade and demolition of the building behind.

Laganview House, as it became known, was sold in January, 2017.

First published in April, 2015.

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