Tuesday, 2 August 2016

1 High Street, Belfast

BELFAST'S old Market House stood at 1 High Street, at the corner of Cornmarket.

In his admirable Central Belfast: A Historical Gazetteer, Marcus Patton OBE states that
The 17th century Market House was built in 1639 of "small red bricks" with sandstone dressings, and extended to provide a proper courthouse on the first floor after 1663. This was the first public hall in the town. It had an arcaded ground floor and three-stage tower with ogival-roofed turret and weathercock, and a hanging clock.
An observer, John Smyth, once recalled that
the front of the Market House was seldom without a skeleton in chains; the corner of it never without a ghastly head rotting in the open air.
The tower had a peal of bells which were probably rung at the beginning and end of market days; and for the funerals of prominent citizens.

The Market House was demolished in 1812.


The site was eventually acquired by the tea merchant, Mr Forster Green, of Derryvolgie House, Malone Road, Belfast, who built a new emporium (above left) with granite plinth, arcaded ground floor and stucco upper floors.

Robust chimneys and urns adorned the balustraded parapet.

This block was demolished in 1929-30, to be replaced by a purpose-built store for F W Woolworth & Co, which operated from the building 1915-2003.

The building was sold for £17.9m and subsequently underwent significant internal refurbishment.

The retail chain Dunnes Stores have occupied the building since late 2003.

First published in July, 2014.

1 comment :

J. McClean said...

The lease of the Market House site was granted in 1802 by Lord Donegall to Adam McClean, a woollen draper whose shop stood opposite in High Street. The terms were favourable due to the expense to be incurred by the leasee in the removal of the great stones of which the building was composed. Mr McClean built shops and houses of no great size on the site that stood for many years. See Benn "History of Belfast" Vol 2. p118.