Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Carlton, Belfast

I have received an old marketing brochure for the Carlton Café and Restaurant, Belfast.

The Carlton was located at 25 Donegall Place until about 1954.

I'm grateful to David Thompson, of McConnell's chartered surveyors and properties, for this information.

25 Donegall Place is, I believe, the oldest remaining Georgian building on this street.

It was built in 1790-91 by Roger Mulholland as part of a terrace of three houses.

Donegall Place frontage

The premises extended back as far as Fountain Street, where there was once another entrance (the premises today are known as Carlton House).

Throughout the 20th century, 25-27 Donegall Place was used as a café and a retail shop.

The stained-glass canopy, which was added for the Carlton, had been removed by at least the 1950s when Saxone Shoes acquired the site and installed a modern shopfront.

They (subsequently renamed Freeman, Hardy & Willis) continued to operate from the premises until at least 1976.

In 1993 the building had been taken over by Trueform.

The Carlton closed its premises in Donegall Place about 1954 and relocated to 11 Wellington Place.

The directors in 1974 were as follows: Henry Toner; David Andrews; Dawson Moreland; Samuel Meharg; James S Andrews; Thomas Baker.

main restaurant

The main restaurant in Donegall Place boasted alternate panels of mirror plate and rose-coloured silk, surrounded by mauve decorations between substantial pilasters.

At the rear, a large soda fountain was installed which dispensed "iced beverages, ices and iced fruits."

The restaurant was approached through the shop.

The Locksley Hall restaurant was located behind the restaurant.

This room had Romanesque mahogany pilasters with gold-bound panels of Oriental, atmospheric, prismatic colouring, producing a cheerful "Plein Air" feeling.

The ceiling was painted in delicate tints of pale sage green and antique ivory.

It extended to over 2,800 square feet and could be subdivided.

There was an entrance from Fountain Street.

The Oak Room

The Oak Room was described thus:-
a regal apartment of comfort and elegance, panelled in natural oak, elaborately carved with all the correctness of detail and charm of execution of the LOUIS XV period; and relieved by smaller panels of rich tapestry of antique colour and design.
On two sides of the room, large mirrors were inserted in the oak walls.

An Oriental carpet graced the floor.

On the first floor from the shop was The Ladies' Room, "a beautiful apartment overlooking Donegall Place."

It was decorated in subdued tones of blue and gold, and "most exquisitely furnished."

The Smoke Room was on the second floor, "a most comfortable and restful apartment, overlooking Donegall Place."

It was beautified in the Jacobean style and contained "all the comforts of a luxurious divan."

The Balcony

The Balcony was available for dining or afternoon tea.

The Grand Ballroom was beside the Balcony:
Passing the celebrated Herbert Mortimer Orchestra, we mount a few steps and enter the GRAND BALLROOM, a veritable salon, both in purity of style and correctness of detail, reminiscent of that famous period of refinement and elegance - Louis Quinze.
The Grand Ballroom

The colour scheme was ivory white, with delicate shades of shell pink and pastel blue, enhanced by an oak parquetry floor.

This ballroom had a floorspace of 3,200 square feet and seated 300 or up to 400 for dancing.

It had a separate entrance from Fountain Street.

As a matter of interest, the Carlton operated a bakery in Donegall Avenue.

25 Donegall Place is today a branch of Oasis.

First published in February, 2016.


Unknown said...

My parents met at the Carlton Cafe in 1942 or 43. My mother was a waitress there and my was an American working for Lockheed servicing airplanes for the war effort preceding D Day.

Unknown said...

I worked at the Royal Avenue Hotel in the 60's and came across a silver plate cream jug with CARLTON BELFAST engraved in the side. I have pictures of it but can't see anywhere to add them to this comment.

Ken Belshaw said...

I worked for the legendary Ad-Man Rex McKane in the late 60`s. Our offices where in Scottish Provident Buildings and the Carlton Bar and Grill was our nightly haunt. So much so that Rex decided to make the Head Chef---Bill Beecham into a celebrity by advertising Cookstown Sausages. Not quite with the same success he had had with George Best in previous ads. But surely one of the earliest examples of celebrity-chef.
Ken Belshaw

John Bradbury said...

And there were many broadcasts of its orchestra during the 1920s, for instance:

John Bradbury

Unknown said...

In the early days of Ulster Television (1960s) Rex McKane was always a most welcome and colourful visitor when ads were filmed or live in the studio. He was a celebrity in his own right, always cheerful and smiling. Lovely man. Anne Hailes.

Unknown said...

My grandmother Catherine Reilly worked here in the 1920's before moving to the US in 1928. After about 6 years between New York and Florida she returned to Ireland. Recognising a good idea when she saw one she founded the Carlton Cafe and Restaurant in West St. Drogheda.