Monday, 13 February 2017

The Crown Bar


THE CROWN BAR, also known as the Crown Liquor Saloon, is one of three similarly scaled buildings lining the east side of Great Victoria Street, Belfast.

It is located at 46, Great Victoria Street, on a corner site, with its gabled south side elevation fronting onto Amelia Street.

It comprises three storeys, though the southern elevation extends as a two-storey attic return.

The bar stands almost directly opposite the Europa Hotel, at the end of a terrace.

This stucco-fronted building was built ca 1840, and remodelled ca 1898, including a decorative, tiled pub shopfront.

The interior was remodelled about 1885.

The pitched, natural slate roof was reconstructed about 2005.

A painted fascia reads 'THE CROWN BAR', each corner surmounted by urns.

The elaborately tiled pub shopfront has tiled panels divided into five bays by Corinthian tiled pilasters.

Three central bays are recessed to provide a porch, with a pair of pink and white marble Corinthian columns to full-span gilded glass fascia proclaiming "LIQUOR THE CROWN SALOON" and tiled panels to either end, stating "SPIRIT" and "VAULTS".

All are surmounted by a series of scrolls, finials and tiled scallops to either end.

The porch contains a mosaic tiled floor proclaiming "CROWN BAR", with etched and painted fixed-pane windows to three sides and tiled panels below.


THE CROWN BAR was recorded in the 1852 Belfast street directory as the Ulster Railway Hotel and Tavern, the proprietor being Terence O’Hanlon.

In 1859 it was recorded that the Ulster Railway Hotel was let to Mr O’Hanlon by Henry Joy.

The hotel was described as a three-storey, A-class building that measured 19½ by 12 yards.

Mr O’Hanlon continued to occupy the hotel until 1880, when it was taken over by Patrick Flanigan (who later purchased the building in 1885).

Mr Flanigan thereafter purchased numbers 19 and 21 Amelia Street to its rear, and converted the entire premises into a public house.

By 1901, the premises were known as the Crown Bar, comprising ten rooms and a storeroom.

Patrick Flanigan was 45 years of age and lived at the address with his wife and their seven children.

He employed a number of staff including barmaids, shop assistants and domestic servants.

Mr Flanigan occupied the property until his death in 1902, when his widow, Ellen, came into sole possession.

Mrs Flanigan ran the bar until 1927, when Patrick McGreeny took possession.

He also owned 2, Keyland’s Place, at the rear of the pub.

The exterior mosaic facade and stained glazing of the bar was considerably damaged through general wear, but also through numerous attacks during the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, in 1980-81 Robert McKinstry undertook a restoration of the bar's interior and restored the mosaic facade using a plan of the original pattern design which was found at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire.

Further changes to the Crown Bar took place after McKinstry’s restoration, when £250,000 was spent on the eradication of dry rot in the walls during the 1980s.

A restaurant was constructed on the first floor in 1988 by Gifford & Cairns costing £450,000.

Marcus Patton, OBE, remarks that this restaurant was named the Britannic Lounge and incorporated panelling from the Harland & Wolff shipyards originally intended for RMS Britannic (sister ship of the Titanic), which was sunk during the 1st World War in 1916.

The Crown Bar continues to operate as a public house and is a popular tourist destination attracting people visiting Belfast with its beautifully preserved Victorian character.

It was listed in 1977 and is said to be the only bar owned by the National Trust, which acquired the building in 1978.

The bar is today administered on behalf of the National Trust by Nicholson's Bars.

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