Tuesday, 6 August 2019

7 Chichester Street, Belfast


CHICHESTER STREET, Belfast, runs from Donegall Square North to Oxford Street.

The section from Victoria Street to Oxford Street has been pedestrianised, because the High Court was a frequent target for bombers during the "Troubles".

This street, originally called South Parade, was developed at the very end of the 18th century.

Number Seven, Chichester Street, Belfast, forms part of a terrace of four-storey Georgian town-houses, with semi-basements.

These houses were built as private residences in 1804, to the designs of an unknown architect (Marcus Patton suggests, however, that the developers, Patrick Connor and John Mason, had taken a lease on the property in 1802).


The doorcase is arched, with spider's-web fanlight, and recessed Doric columns.

Beside the doorcase there are three brass business plaques, two old alarm boxes, a metal numeral "7", and a Blue Plaque.

Perhaps the numeral "7" could be painted in white on the door itself?

This terrace is built with dark red brick.


The first known occupant was James Cassidy.

During the mid-19th century Number Seven was occupied first by Dr McCormack, and subsequently by a surgeon, James Moore.

The owner of numbers seven and nine was Edward McDowall.

Each house comprised two parlours, two dining-rooms, six bedrooms, two basements, a scullery, pantries, WC, stable and yard.

By the late 19th century the houses ceased to be used solely as residential properties.

Both premises became subdivided, and each unit was let to separate occupiers.

Charles H Brett, of L’Estrange and Brett, purchased numbers seven, nine and eleven ca 1900.

Marcus Patton, OBE, tells me that the terrace almost certainly wouldn’t have survived if they hadn’t been Sir Charles Brett’s offices, as they were quite badly bomb-damaged at one time; and he insisted on everything being carefully repaired.

The ground floor of Number Seven, the yard and two rooms to the rear were occupied by Martin Turnbull as offices.

Throughout the 20th century the building was occupied by solicitors' firms on the ground floor.

A variety of office-based businesses occupied the upper floors, including estate agents, a civil engineering firm, a commercial stationer's, and an architectural firm.

The celebrated Belfast artist William Conor, OBE, had a studio in the first floor during the 1920s; and the pioneering civil engineer Luke Macassey also had offices here in the early 20th century.

By the mid-20th century numbers seven and nine had vacant top floors which along with the basements, had previously been occupied by the resident caretakers.

During the late 20th century the rear of the terraces was badly damaged by two explosions in the alley directly behind.

The rear was subsequently rebuilt in the ensuing years, and restoration work was carried out to the roof and fa├žade.

Number Seven continued to be utilised as offices during the 20th century and now contains an optician's shop and a chocolatier among its businesses.

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