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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Public house

Date of Construction:
1840 - 1859

Address :
Crown Bar Liquor Saloon 46 Great Victoria Street Belfast County Antrim BT2 7BA

Town Parks

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
25/10/1977 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Public House

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:
130/13 SE

IG Ref:
J3357 7378

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

End of terrace three-storey stucco-fronted public house, built c.1840, remodelled c.1885 (interior) with the exterior remodelled c.1898, including decorative tiled pub shopfront to two elevations. One of three similarly scaled buildings lining the east side of Great Victoria Street, located on a corner site with its gabled south side elevation fronting onto Amelia Street and the south elevation extending as a two-storey with attic return. Pitched natural slate roof, reconstructed c.2005, with black clay ridge tiles, two dentilated profiled rendered chimneystacks with octagonal clay pots and cement coping to the south gable. Roof set behind rendered parapet wall with drip cornice and painted fascia stating; 'THE CROWN BAR', each corner surmounted by urns. Cast-iron gutter shared with adjoining building to the north. Painted rendered walling with truncated giant order Corinthian scribed pilasters flanking each bay to the upper floors and rising to an architrave moulding below the fascia. Square-headed window openings with moulded surrounds, painted masonry sills and timber sash or casement windows. Front elevation is three windows wide with architrave surrounds and 2/2 timber sash windows to the second floor and timber casement windows to the first floor flanked by scribed pilasters and scrolled console brackets supporting cornice above. Elaborate tiled pub shopfront with tiled panels divided into five bays by Corinthian tiled pilasters and the central three bays recessed to provide a porch with a pair of pink and white marble Corinthian columns to full-span gilded glass fascia stating; 'LIQUOR THE CROWN SALOON' and tiled panels to either end stating 'SPIRIT' and 'VAULTS', all surmounted by series of scrolls and finials and tiled scallops to either end. The porch contains a mosaic tiled floor stating; 'CROWN BAR', with etched and painted fixed-pane windows to three sides and tiled panels below with pair of woodgrained timber doors having linenfold panels and matching glazed upper panels with brass door furniture. North side elevation abutted by adjoining building No.44 (HB26/30/005B). Rear elevation abutted by two-storey with attic return in turn abutted by modern redbrick gabled ended two-storey with attic development, built c.1990. Gabled south side elevation surmounted by chimneystack with the upper floors framed by a pair of scribed giant order Corinthian pilasters and a single window opening having decorative moulded window surround and 2/2 timber sash window. The ground floor continues the tiled pub shopfront of the front elevation and extends along half the ground floor of the return with a continuous gilded glass fascia stating' 'WINES, BRANDIES, WHISKIES, BEERS, THE CROWN, LIQUOR SALOON'. Bipartite square-headed window openings, glazed as per above, with pink granite sills, decorative tiled panels below, each flanked by plainer tiled pilasters with dentilated capitals. Square-headed door opening gives side access to the bar with double-leaf doors and side panels matching the principal entrance including mosaic tiled threshold. The remainder of the return has architrave surrounds to the upper floor with 2/2 timber sash windows, gabled dormers to the roof and a tripartite timber shopfront to the remainder of the ground floor elevation. Setting: One of three similarly scaled buildings lining the east side of Great Victoria Street, opposite the Europa Hotel, located on a corner site with its gabled south side elevation fronting onto Amelia Street. Roof Natural slate RWG Replacement cast-iron Walling Painted stucco Windows Timber sash / casement


Byrne, E & J

Historical Information

The current Crown Bar at No. 46 Great Victoria Street first appears on the second edition of the Ordnance Survey Map in 1858; however the building dates from c. 1840 and was recorded on the 1852 Belfast Street Directory as the Ulster Railway Hotel and Tavern, the proprietor being a Mr. Terence O’Hanlon. In 1859 Griffith’s Valuation recorded that the Ulster Railway Hotel was let to O’Hanlon by Henry Joy (who owned most of the land to the south of Belfast’s town centre) and was valued at £50. The valuer described the hotel as a three-storey A class (‘not cut stone’) building that measured 19 ½ by 12 yds and was let to O’Hanlon at an annual ground rent of 10 shillings per square foot. O’Hanlon continued to occupy the hotel until 1880 when the property was taken over by Patrick Flanigan who later purchased the building outright in 1885 (Belfast Street Directory). Upon coming into possession of the former hotel Flanigan purchased nos 19 and 21 Amelia Street to its rear and converted the entire premises into a public house; this resulted in an increase in the value of the site to £185; by 1901 the Belfast Street Directory recorded the property as the Crown Bar. The 1901 Census described the property as a 1st class public house which consisted of 10 rooms and possessed a storeroom as its single out office; in that year Patrick Flanigan was 45 and described a Roman Catholic spirit merchant who lived at the address with his wife and their seven children. Flanigan employed a number of staff including barmaids, shop assistants and domestic servants and occupied the property until his death in 1902 at which time his widow Ellen came into sole possession (PRONI Wills Catalogue – 4 Jan 1902). Ellen Flanigan does not appear to have lived at the Crown Bar after her husband’s death as the building was recorded as unoccupied on the 1911 Census, however the business continued and Ellen Flanigan ran the pub until 1927 when a Mr. Patrick McGreeny took possession. The value of the public house was greatly increased in 1906 to £340 (in that year Windsor Ward was valued separately from the rest of the centre of Belfast for the first time), however this was appealed by the owners leading to a decrease in value to £260 by 1912, at which it remained by the end of the Annual Revisions in 1930. In 1935 the value of the building was increased to £305 under the first general revaluation of property in Northern Ireland; in that year the valuer noted that McGreeny also owned No. 2 Keyland’s Place at the rear of the pub. A second revaluation of the public house took place in 1956 by which time the value of the Crown Bar had greatly increased to £1,000; this was reduced to £800 under the 1957 Rent and Valuation Act, however the owners still considered this too high and appealed resulting in the reduction of the rate to £600 at which it remained by the end of the revaluation in 1972. Larmour states that the Ulster Railway Hotel originally dated from 1839-40 coinciding with the construction of Ireland’s second railway line between Belfast and Lisburn in 1839. Larmour suggests that the Corinthian pilastered upper facade of the building dates from the original construction of the building, however the interior of the public house dates from the 1880s when Flanigan took over possession. A popular myth states that the interior, including its famous snugs, was designed by Patrick Flannigan who was a student of architecture; however it was in fact designed by E. & J. Byrne in 1885, who also installed the exterior tiled facade and two columned porch in 1898 (Larmour, p. 62; Patton, p. 170). Law expresses the myth best stating that Flannigan was enthusiastic about architecture and toured the Mediterranean studying Italian and Spanish designs. Upon returning to Belfast Flannigan set about redesigning the family’s newly acquired bar; Law attempts to merge myth with fact by suggesting that Flannigan employed E & J Byrne to draw up the blueprints of his vision for the pub, however Larmour and Patton agree that the design was solely the work of the architects (Law, pp 26-29). The Crown Bar is a rare example of an excellently preserved Victorian public house for which it has gained much fame; in 1946 it was included in Carol Reed’s film Odd Man Out; no filming actually took place in the Crown bar but in fact an exact replica of the pub was constructed in an English film studio. The exterior mosaic facade and stained glazing of the pub was greatly damaged through general wear, but also through numerous attacks during the periods of civil unrest, however in 1980-81 Robert McKinstry undertook a restoration of the pub interior and fortunately restored the mosaic facade using a plan of the original pattern design which was found at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire (Heatley, p. 170; Law, p. 29). Further changes to the pub 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. Patton states that this restaurant was named the Britannic Lounge and incorporated panelling from the Harland & Wolff shipyards originally intended for the R.M.S. Britannic, the sister ship of the Titanic, which was sunk during the First 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 excellently preserved Victorian character. The pub was listed in 1977 and is the only bar in Ireland, and the UK, owned by the National Trust, who came into possession of the building in 1978, although the Irish Bass Brewery are responsible for the day to day running of the over 170 year old public house (Law, pp 26-29; Patton, p. 170). References Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/1/61/1 – First Edition Ordnance Survey Map 1832-33 2. PRONI OS/6/1/61/2 – Second Edition Ordnance Survey Map 1858 3. PRONI OS/6/1/61/3 – Third Edition Ordnance Survey Map 1901-02 4. PRONI OS/6/1/61/4 – Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey Map 1931 5. PRONI OS/6/1/61/5 – Fifth Edition Ordnance Survey Map 1938 6. PRONI VAL/2/B/7/1B – Griffith’s Valuation 1859 7. PRONI VAL/12/B/43/A/1 – Annual Revisions 1863-1881 8. PRONI VAL/12/B/43/A/11 – Annual Revisions 1882-1897 9. PRONI VAL/12/B/43/A/36 – Annual Revisions 1897-1905 10. PRONI VAL/12/B/43/P/2 – Annual Revisions 1906-1915 11. PRONI VAL/12/B/43/P/5 – Annual Revisions 1915-1930 12. Belfast Street Directories (1852; 1861; 1877; 1880; 1901; 1907; 1908; 1910; 1918) 13. Census of Ireland (1901; 1911) Secondary Sources 1. Heatley, F., ‘Belfast: Paintings and stories from the city’ Donaghadee: Cottage Publications, 1998 2. Larmour, P., ‘Belfast: An illustrated architectural guide’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1987. 3. Law, G., ‘Historic pubs of Belfast’ Belfast: Appletree Press, 2002. 4. Patton, M., ‘Central Belfast: An historical gazetteer’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1993 5. First Survey Record – HB26/30/003 (1977) Online Resources 1. Dictionary of Irish Architects -

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest


End of terrace three-storey rendered public house, built c.1840, to designs by E&J Byrne and located on the east side of Great Victoria street on a corner site with its gabled south side elevation fronting onto Amelia Street, close to Belfast city centre. A prominent building, with a distinctive design, the proportions and style of the principal elevation makes for an interesting composition with its corinthian colums and elaborate tiled pub shopfront. Sensitively restored and refurbished by the National Trust, this bar is hailed as one of the best examples of a late-Victorian pub interior in Britain and Ireland. Occupying an important role as one of Belfast's major tourist attractions, the building is of considerable interest both locally and in the wider international context. The Crown Bar creates an element of architectural distinction and plays an important role in defining the historic context of this part of Belfast city.

General Comments

Additional listing criteria apply-R- Age, S- Authenticity, T- Historic Importance

Date of Survey

13 May 2011