Saturday, 13 June 2020

The Ulster Club

The Ulster Club, 23 Castle Place, Belfast, was established in 1856 by a group of gentlemen landowners, and was frequented by aristocracy and gentry, including the Marquess of Downshire, the Earl of Antrim, the Earl of Enniskillen, the Viscount Bangor, the Lord O'Neill, and landed families like the Perceval-Maxwells of Finnebrogue.

The three-storey building, designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, occupied a commanding position across the junction from the Bank Buildings.

It was built in the Regency style, stuccoed, with a cast-iron balcony attached to a bow-fronted central bay.

This elegant Victorian building of ca 1863 was demolished for Calvert House (1983-4), a four-storey glass structure, in 1981.

I recall the Ulster Club, sadly derelict and ruinous at the height of "the Troubles", before it was razed to the ground.

The 5th Earl of Enniskillen was staying in the club when he received the calamitous news that his ancestral seat in County Fermanagh, Florence Court, was on fire.

Lady Enniskillen telephoned him at the club and he was said to have exclaimed, "what the hell do you expect me to do?", or words to that effect.

The Club sold its premises at Castle Place in the late 1960s and removed to one floor of River House in High Street.

It merged with the Ulster Reform Club in 1982.

First published in July, 2014.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

A schoolfriend and I sneaked into the derelict Ulster Club days before its demolition. It was an eerie sight. The floors were heaped with debris and pigeon droppings and the occasional bird flapped around in the gloom. What light there was I think came down from the skylight above the stairwell. While we were there a well-known local architectural historian arrived to make his own final farewell. He didn't seem surprised that we were there but told us to "have a good look round because it's the last chance you'll have." I recall that we came across sodden plaster decorative details fallen intact from the cornices.