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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:
1860 - 1879

Address :
Malmaison Hotel 34-38 Victoria Street Belfast BT1 3GH

Town Parks

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
11/11/1981 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:
130-13 NE+SE

IG Ref:
J3422 7440

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

Terraced multi-bay four-storey with attic pair of stone former warehouses, dated 1867, to the designs of William Hastings, No.34 for John Lytle & Sons and No.36-38 for Samuel McCausland. Rectangular on plan facing west onto Victoria Street with side elevation and extension fronting onto Marlborough Street. Extensively remodelled and interconnected for use as a hotel c.1998. Pitched natural slate roofs with black clay ridge tiles set behind decorative parapet walls. Square-profile cast-iron downpipes breaking through crown cornices. Smooth sandstone ashlar walling with continuous moulded sill courses at each level and sandstone plinth course. Round and segmental-headed window openings with replacement single-pane timber sash windows and decorative carved surrounds. Symmetrical front elevation to Lytle’s with scrolled stone balustrades to the parapet flanked by squat piers and resting on a continuous crown cornice supported on series of console brackets with carved panels between and grotesques to a frieze below with carved letters; ‘MDCCCLXVII’. Segmental-headed window openings to the third floor, round-headed to the second floor, arranged in a group of three to the centre, paired to either end. Second floor windows have slender polished granite colonettes with foliate carved heads and keystones, resting on a large continuous cable moulding at sill level. Five round-headed window openings to the first floor set in stepped recesses with arch mouldings, keystones and continuous impost moulding. Arcaded ground floor with moulded arches and elaborately carved keystones rising from stone columns with stiff-leaf capitals and carved birds at the springing of the arches. Continuous stiff-leaf impost moulding with original cast-iron window frames in the form of Venetian arches with decorative ironwork. The central arch has a pair of replacement double-leaf timber panelled doors. Asymmetrical front elevation to McCausland’s with carved pierced stone balustrades to the parapet flanked by squat piers resting on a continuous crown cornice supported on a series of console brackets. Round-headed window openings to second and third floors, segmental-headed to first floor, arranged in pairs and single openings flanked by shallow pilasters with capital mouldings to each sill course and surmounted by a large scrolled console bracket to the crown cornice. Windows flanked by pilasters to all floors with polished granite colonettes to the paired windows on second and third floors and blind guilloche panels below first floor windows. Three square-headed display windows to the ground floor with an off-centre square-headed door opening. Timber-framed display windows with cast-iron colonettes and ironwork panels flanked by large flat-panelled piers, embellished with carved herms, depicting the continents with capital mouldings meeting a large cornice framing the ground floor. Replacement double-leaf timber panelled doors with a deep moulded lintel cornice and rectangular overlight. North side elevation to Lytle’s is four windows wide, detailed as per front elevation with a central date stone to the parapet with carved date ‘1867’. The rear elevation to Lytle’s is abutted by a four-storey with attic redbrick extension, built c.1880, having lead-lined dormer windows, an angled brick parapet with stone brackets and redbrick walls laid in Flemish bond. Segmental-headed window openings with replacement single-pane timber sash windows and continuous stone sill courses. To the ground floor is a round-headed arch (possibly former carriage arch) with rusticated voussoired stone surround having an ancon depicting a Chinese man with coolie hat, now infilled with a window and stone panel below. Later inserted square-headed carriage arch to the left with steel doors providing access to the rear. Five-storey rear elevation to McCausland’s is six windows wide with redbrick walling laid in English garden wall bond having gauged brick segmental-headed window openings with replacement single-pane timber sash windows and stone sills. Two of the bays are slightly recessed indicating former loading bays. South side elevation abutted by adjoining building, First Trust Bank. Setting: Facing west onto Victoria Street with its north side elevation and extension fronting onto Marlborough Street. Small rear yard shared with adjoining building to south. Roof: Natural slate RWG: Cast-iron Walling: sandstone ashlar Windows: timber


Hastings, William

Historical Information

The present McCausland Hotel was built as a pair of four-storey warehouses for Samuel McCausland and John Lytle, seed merchants, and dates from 1866-8. The building was designed by William Hastings and the contractors were the Fitzpatrick Brothers, Thomas Fitzpatrick carrying out the carving from detail drawings by James Kendall. ( The buildings are among the ‘finest’ examples of the High Victorian commercial architecture which characterises Belfast’s built heritage. Brett calls the style ‘rich Renaissance’ and draws attention to the ‘superb’ carving especially the half-caryatid pilasters symbolising the five continents and their fruits ‘in a mouth-wateringly juicy manner’on the right-hand building (from left to right, Africa/Asia/Oceania/Europe/America). The character of each building is slightly different, Larmour noting that the McCausland warehouse to the right is a form of Italianate classical but Lytle is more Romanesque. The carving on Lytle’s warehouse has a vegetal and animal theme, with ‘owls and eagles, chicks in nests, nibbling squirrels and rows of tortoise heads peeping out of the carved stone foliage’. The firm’s trademark was a harp and crown, depicted on the parapet, and the wrought-iron work shows John Lytle’s monogram. (Brett; Larmour) The buildings are first shown on the second edition Belfast town plan of 1871-3 where they replaced ‘Hogini’s circus’, a venue for boxing tournaments in 1864. (Belfast Newsletter) The buildings enter valuation records in 1867, each as a shop, warehouse and yard, valued at £420, later raised to £540. Number 34 was occupied by John Lytle & Sons Ltd, wholesale grocers and seed merchants and its neighbour, number 36/38 by Samuel McCausland, wholesale tea, sugar and seed merchant. Both buildings were leased from John and Robert Lindsay. John Lytle & Sons was established in 1835, John Lytle rising to become a prominent local citizen and Mayor of Belfast from 1863 to 1865. The firm established their reputation through the collection and cleaning of rye-grass seed using machinery that allowed the seed to be saved rather than lost with the hay. Their success and that of Samuel McCausland made Belfast the centre for rye-grass seed collection and export. John Lytle died in 1871 and the firm passed to his sons who were both JPs and David Lytle was also a member of the Harbour Board and Managing Director of the North of Ireland Chemical Company. By the late 1880s the firm sold a wide variety of agricultural and garden seeds as well as tea and‘Odam’s’ manures and guano. Their Victoria Street premises, built by John Lytle, comprised ‘handsomely and appropriately appointed’ private and general offices and a showroom on the ground floor with seed recleaning carried on at the rear. The upper storeys were used as store-rooms for tea and seeds and separate premises in Marlborough Street provided storage for manures. (; Industries of the North) Samuel McCausland founded the firm bearing his name in 1826 and continued to attend the warehouse daily into his nineties when he was assisted by his son William, who was also a director of Brookfield Linen Company. Samuel McCausland was, like his neighbour, a prominent citizen and JP and became Mayor of Belfast in 1868. McCauslands were also specialists in the cleaning of rye-grass seed, and also engaged in the wholesale tea and sugar trade, as well as the supply of a variety of agricultural and garden seeds. Their Victoria Street premises comprised six offices on the ground floor and stores for seeds, tea and other goods on the upper floors. They also possessed machinery for seed cleaning and it is possible that the warehouses were built beside each other in order that the two firms could divide the expense of the machinery. By the 1880s the firm imported flax and clover seed, oilcake and tea and exported rye grasses to ‘almost every quarter of the globe’. (Industries of the North) In 1913 Lytle’s building was altered by the removal of the original stairs which were replaced with a brick strong room. An engine bed was added to the rear of the warehouse c1945. In around 1965 a new gateway was added to the rear of the building giving access from Marlborough Street. (UA International) The two seed merchants remained in the buildings until the early 1970s when they moved elsewhere. Samuel McCausland seeds are still in operation and based in Banbridge ( In 1975 the warehouses were bought by the Roads Service and earmarked for demolition. (Brett) However, the DoE Historic Buildings branch listed the building in 1981 and took over ownership. The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society under the Action for Community Employment (ACE) scheme was tasked to carry out works to stop the building deteriorating until a use could be found. The work eradicated extensive wet and dry rot, repaired roof trusses, roofs, guttering and floor beams. The Laganside Corporation then took over the site and through a Developer Competition returned the warehouses to the private sector. The building re-opened its doors as a 60-bedroom luxury hotel on 1st December 1998 with a completely modernised interior, with little original fabric, other than cast iron supporting columns and exposed timber beams. The architects were Edmondson Cosgrove Robinson. The conversion received a commendation in the Civic Trust Awards 2000. (Perspective, RSUA Yearbook) References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/8/30/2/30 – Belfast Town Plan 1871-3 2. PRONI OS/6/1/61/4 – Fourth Edition OS Map 1901-2 3. PRONI OS/6/1/61/6 – Sixth Edition OS Map 1931 4. PRONI VAL/12/B/43/B/1-21 Annual Revisions (1862-1930) 5. PRONI VAL/12/B/43/C/1-45 Annual Revisions (1863-1930) 6. Street Directories 7. Belfast Newsletter, 29th February 1864

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form H-. Alterations detracting from building

Historic Interest

V. Authorship Z. Rarity X. Local Interest


Terraced multi-bay four-storey with attic former pair of stone warehouses, dated 1867, to the designs of William Hastings, No 34 for John Lytle & Sons and No 36-38 for Samuel McCausland. Although compromised by some loss of fabric and detailing, its character survives with fine stonework by local sculptors Fitzpatrick Bros related to its original purpose as a seed warehouse. Hasting was associated with many buildings for commerce and this building represents an important facet of the mercantile history of Belfast associated with prominent merchants and citizens, Lyttle and McCausland. It remains a fine example of the type by an architect of note.

General Comments

Date of Survey

26 September 2012