Bank Buildings, Belfast

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Coordinates: 54°35′56″N 5°55′52″W / 54.599°N 5.931°W / 54.599; -5.931

Bank Buildings
Bank Buildings, Belfast
General information
Town or city Belfast
Country Northern Ireland
Construction started 1785
Completed 1787
Client Waddell Cunningham
Owner Primark Stores Limited
Technical details
Structural system Cast iron structure clad in red Dumfries stone
Design and construction
Architect Sir Robert Taylor

The Bank Buildings is a red Dumfries sandstone building located at 1-27 Castle Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland.


The Bank Buildings, along the left of the image, circa 1900.

The original use of the building was as a bank. Since the four founders of the bank all had the first name of John (Brown, Ewing, Hamilton and Holmes), the bank was called The Bank of the Four Johns. By the turn of the 1800s the bank had collapsed and the buildings became the residence of the bishop of Down and Connor, Rev. Dr. William Dickson. The building was then converted into a shop in 1805. Also around this time, the area in front of the Bank Buildings was also used to execute criminals before this practice came to an end in 1816. The last three people to be hanged were weavers who had twice attacked the home of their employer, Francis Johnston, in an argument over the wages they had been paid.

In 1853, the store was to become home to a wholesale drapery firm. Founded by businessmen William Robertson and Henry Hawkins (Waterford), J. C. Ledlie (Cork), and Robert Ferguson (Belfast), the business soon expanded and became a commercial department store. In 1900 the ground and first floors of the building underwent a major redesign. The architect W. H. Lynn allowed for large plate glass windows to be installed in the lower floors. The department store continued to operate on the first two floors whilst the upper floors were used as a warehouse for the wholesale side of the business.

The building remained under the ownership of Robertson, Ledlie, Ferguson & Company until they were bought out by the House of Fraser group. The department store still continued to operate from Bank Buildings until Boots took over from House of Fraser. Boots was then forced to move out in 1975. On April 9, three bombs were detonated inside Bank Buildings. The resulting fire extensively damaged the building. Refurbishments were carried out in 1979 and after 18 months the new owners, Primark Stores Limited established a store. They remain the currently owners of the Bank Buildings.

Role within Northern Amateur Football League[edit]

Representatives from Robertson, Ledlie, Ferguson & Co attended the first ever meeting of the Northern Amateur Football League at Clarence Place Hall on July 4, 1923. The league was open to applications from public bodies, private associations, schools and firms. Although they originally submitted a team for the new league, Bank Buildings Football Club never played a competitive match. They are however considered one of the founding members of the Amateur League.


External links[edit]