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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Town Hall

Date of Construction:
1840 - 1859

Address :
Town Hall The Diamond Coleraine Co. Londonderry BT52 1DE

Coleraine & suburbs

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
25/05/1976 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Town Hall

Former Use
Town Hall

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
C8480 3240

Owner Category

Local Govt

Exterior Description And Setting

A freestanding two-storey symmetrical Italianate-style Town Hall of sandstone construction, erected in 1859 to the designs of Thomas Turner. The building replaced a previous Town Hall, c.1743 and is located at the centre of The Diamond, Coleraine. Oblong on plan with a five-stage clock tower to the west, surmounted by a leaded cupola. Major refurbishment was undertaken in recent decades and the building continues to function as a Town Hall with council offices beneath a multi-purpose auditorium. Partially hipped slate roof behind stone blocking course with a modillion cornice, punctuated to north and south by tall paired chimneys, interconnected by a wall pierced by a keystoned-oculus. Advancing central bays to short axis with pediment over east (bay added c.1902) and tower rising above west. Moulded string and sill courses wrap around each elevation. Walling is smoothly finished, coursed ashlar sandstone with channelled banding to the ground floor, over the continuous sill course. Segmental-headed timber sash windows to ground floor with circular piercings to frieze above; rounded twin-paned windows to upper storey with semi-circular heads encased within projecting moulded architraves intermittently punctuated by raised blocks. Windows are replacement timber with plain glass (some modern decorative frosting to ground floor panes), leaded and stained glass window to right-of-centre on north elevation. Segmental door openings with squared, multi-panelled replacement timber doors, generally within plain architraves and having plain glass transom over. Principal elevation faces west and is three openings wide with a square-plan five-stage tower advancing from centre. Tower projects from upper elevation but is connected to main structure by parapetted curved walls at ground floor level, which contains a rounded window in a chamfered reveal to ground floor with diminutive casements to each side on curved walls. Upper level has central window to tower with stone balustrade; re-entrant angles have blind roundels to tower cheeks, those on main elevation contain carved shields. Baroque-style third stage breaks through eaves with segmental pediments carried on engaged pilasters, squared openings screened by ornate cast-iron grilles; clock stage above, rising to a square stone lantern surmounted by a leaded cupola with concave, chamfered corners. North elevation is eight openings wide with the far right and second-from-left openings advancing slightly. Right bay contains double-leaf door flanked by narrow squared windows; two openings to far-left also have similar windows to each side but. Central window to far left bay is narrower than those of other openings. East elevation is three-openings wide with projecting and pedimented central bay; doorway encased within stepped and moulded segmental architrave, with central keystone, carried on pairs of engaged pilasters. Console brackets and keystone support string course; above which is a window to centre. Narrow windows to each side on ground floor with carved blind roundels above (as west elevation). South elevation is similarly detailed as north except for door opening is located to left-of-centre and the end bay to the right is the only opening flanked by narrow squared windows. Setting Reflecting the civic nature of use, the building is located within an urban
setting in an extremely prominent position at the centre of The Diamond, Coleraine. The exposed positioning and elevated nature of the site ensures the building terminates the primary urban axis’ from the east, along Church Street and from across the river, to Waterside in the west. Primary public access is from the east, whilst the south doors lead to the council rooms and are accessed via modernised steps and ramps. The building dominates this commercial square in the centre of Coleraine, which contains a number of other historic structures; most notably the War Memorial (HB03/18/026) at the east entrance, the Orr memorial (HB03/18/002) to the west; the Bank of Ireland (HB03/18/009) building at 1-2 The Diamond; what was the Belfast Bank, at 14 The Diamond (HB03/18/003) and 24 The Diamond (HB03/18/004) currently the Halifax building society. Roof: Slate Walling: Ashlar sandstone Windows: Replacement timber frame & timber sash RWG: Not known


Historical Information

The Town Hall in Coleraine was built in 1857-9 to designs by Dublin-born architect Thomas Turner. The building replaced an earlier market house dating from the mid-eighteenth century and provides a ‘major architectural focal point’ for Coleraine at the centre of the Diamond (Girvan). The Town Hall is first shown on the third edition OS map of 1904 and is listed in Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) as ‘unfinished’ but is later given a valuation of £140 in Annual Revisions. George Dance Senior, Clerk of the City Works in London and a freeman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company was commissioned to design a market house for Coleraine in 1742 and a grant of £700 together with 35 tons of timber was made available by the Irish Society. Alexander Miller, master builder and carpenter, was engaged to construct the building which was completed in 1743. The Market House comprised a two-storey building and tower, with a court house on the upper floor and open arcades beneath. In 1787-9 following severe lightning damage, the building was reconstructed to designs by Edward Mills. Trading of goods and animals was transferred to a new market yard south west of the Diamond in 1829, following which the ‘market house’ acquired a clock and the building was enlarged and the arcades filled in (Brett; Curl; Dimensions for the earlier market house are given in the Townland Valuation (1828-40). In the 1850s moves were made to replace the Market House with a Town Hall and the Irish Society’s surveyor Stewart Gordon of Londonderry was engaged as supervising architect (Curl). The building was completed to designs by Thomas Turner, a son of Richard Turner, the Dublin innovator of glass conservatories who provided cast-iron grilles for the belfry stage of the tower (Curl). Thomas Turner practiced in Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Londonderry and England and produced a number of designs for public buildings including court houses and town halls for various locations across the British Isles, not all of which were realised ( The Coleraine Town Hall is thought to be among Turner’s finest work and bears strong similarities to the Northern Bank in Shipquay Street, Londonderry (Watson). The foundation stone of the new building was laid on 21st July 1857. A public holiday was declared and all places of business closed to give the general public the opportunity to attend the ceremony. Inhabitants of Coleraine were encouraged to subscribe towards the cost of the building and purchase tickets for a celebratory banquet. The contractor, Henry McLaughlin (of McLaughlin and Harvey), was a native of Coleraine and had served his apprenticeship in the town (Watson). The completion of the Town Hall was reported in the Dublin Builder in March 1859, the building being deemed ‘exceedingly chaste, reflecting the greatest credit on the architect Mr Turner of Belfast, as well as on the contractors’ (Dublin Builder). The final cost was £4,146.19s.10½d which exceeded the estimate by over £1,000. The Town Hall was handed over to the Town Commissioners on 19th February 1859 when an elaborate opening ceremony was to have taken place but by this time the 1859 revival was sweeping Ulster and the ceremony was replaced with a religious service conducted by the town clergymen. Shelter was provided in the newly-completed Town Hall for those who had been overcome by the experience of their conversion and needed to be looked after. Grateful Presbyterian ministers subsequently presented the Revival Bible to the Town Commissioners, one of the few surviving artefacts from the Revival (Watson; In 1902-3 the Town Hall was extended to the east by the addition of an extra bay containing a new stairway and doorway entailing an increase of £50 in the valuation. The western door was permanently closed ( This extension was designed by William James Given, who was then Coleraine’s town surveyor, and was completed at a cost of £3,000 (; Valuation Records). A fine window, by Campbell Brothers of Belfast, illustrating the Irish Society Schools in 1869, the Salmon Leap in 1836, the Diamond in 1815, and the Parish Church as restored in 1775, was inserted in 1914 to commemorate the tercentenary of the Irish Society (Girvan). Valuer’s notes of the 1930s record that the accommodation then comprised, on the ground floor, the gas collector’s office, a council chamber and a room let out as a ‘mechanics’ library’, a kitchen and a strong room. On the first floor was the main hall seating about 650 people and bringing in an annual income of £123-9. The building was cleaned and partly refaced in 1961 and in 1976 the building was among the earliest to be listed in Coleraine (HB file). A massive explosion in 1992 at the south east corner of the building caused extensive structural and surface damage outside and inside. In carrying out repairs the opportunity was taken to update the construction and facilities (UA International). The stonework was repaired with a combination of stone replacement, dressing back and mortar repairs while the interior was thermally insulated and renovated. A disabled lift was fitted and the WC facilities were modified and extended. Modifications took place to the main hall with an extension of the stage area and the re-opening of the balcony area. New terrazzo floors were laid in circulation areas with tiled inserts depicting the Coleraine Town Crest. The Council Chamber and Mayor’s parlour were fitted with oak strip flooring (UA International). A commemorative window for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee was commissioned in 2003. Other works of art in the hall include marble busts of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra by Merret of London, presented by the Irish Society to the Corporation of Coleraine ( The Town Hall’s official opening, which had been postponed since 1859, took place at a ceremony on 3rd June 2009 (Watson). References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/5/7/1 First Edition OS Map 1830 2. PRONI OS/6/5/7/2 Second Edition OS map 1849-50 3. PRONI OS/6/5/7/3 Third Edition OS Map 1904 4. PRONI OS/6/5/7/4 Fourth Edition OS Map 1923 5. PRONI OS/6/5/7/5 Fifth Edition OS Map 1949 6. PRONI VAL/1/B/542A-D Townland Valuation (1828-40) 7. PRONI VAL/2/B/5/3A-D Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) 8. PRONI VAL/12/B/30/9A-N Annual Revisions (1864-1929) 9. PRONI VAL/3/C/6/4 First General Revaluation 1933-57 10. PRONI VAL/3/D/6/2/A/6 First General Revaluation 1933-57 11. Dublin Builder Vol 1 1st March 1859, p 33 12. UA International Sept/Oct 1995 Vol 12 Iss 8 p13-8 13. UA International Feb/Mar 1996 Vol 13 Iss 2 p47 14. HB file 03/18/001 Secondary Sources 1. Brett, C.E.B. “Court Houses and Market Houses of the Province of Ulster” Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1973 2. Curl, James Stevens “The Londonderry Plantation 1609-1914” Chichester: Philimore, 1986 3. Girvan, W D “Historic Buildings, Groups of Buildings, Areas of Architectural Importance in Coleraine and Portstewart” Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1971-2 4. Watson, F G “Building over the Centuries – A History of McLaughlin and Harvey” Belfast: Nicholson and Bass, 2010 5. 6.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form J. Setting

Historic Interest

V. Authorship X. Local Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance


A free-standing two-storey Victorian Town Hall building in sandstone erected in 1859 to the designs of Thomas Turner. Oblong on plan and executed in an eclectic neo-classical style with a five-stage clock tower to the west, surmounted by a leaded cupola. Owing to the prominent location, coupled with the scale of clock-tower, the building constitutes a major visual focal point, which dominates the central Diamond and the primary vista within the town. A significant building in the historic development of Coleraine. Characterised by balanced, elegant proportions, the building constitutes a dignified and restrained example of the Italianate-style, which suitably conveys the social and civic importance befitting a Town Hall.

General Comments

Listing Criteria R - Age; S - Authenticity and T - Historic Importance also apply.

Date of Survey

22 January 2013