Crown Liquor Saloon
The Crown Liquor Saloon, also known as the Crown Bar, is a pub in Great Victoria Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Refurbished in 1885, and at least twice since, it is an outstanding example of a Victorian gin palace, and one of Northern Ireland's best-known pubs. It is owned by the National Trust and is leased to Mitchells & Butlers who run it as a Nicholson's pub.
Opened by Felix O'Hanlon as The Railway Tavern, the pub was then bought by Michael Flanagan. Flanagan's son Patrick renamed and renovated it in 1885.
The Crown owes its elaborate tiling, stained glass and woodwork to the Italian craftsmen whom Flanagan persuaded to work on the pub after hours. These craftsmen were brought to Ireland to work on the many new churches being built in Belfast at the time. It was this high standard of work that gave the Crown the reputation of being one of the finest Victorian gin palaces of its time.
In 1978, the National Trust, following persuasion by people including Sir John Betjeman, purchased the property and three years later completed a £400,000 renovation to restore the bar to its original Victorian state. Further restoration by the National Trust was done in 2007 at a cost of £500,000. This work is the subject of a BBC Northern Ireland documentary, The Crown Jewel, screened in 2008.
A recognisable landmark of Belfast, The Crown has featured as a location in numerous film and television productions, such as David Caffrey's Divorcing Jack (1998) and Carol Reed's classic 1947 film Odd Man Out.
The exterior is decorated in polychromatic tiles. This includes a mosaic of a Crown on the floor of the entrance. The interior is also decorated with complex mosaics of tiles. The red granite topped bar is of an altar style, with a heated footrest underneath and is lit by gas lamps on the highly decorative carved ceilings.
The Crown has ten booths, or snugs. Built to accommodate the pub's more reserved customers during the austere Victorian period, the snugs feature the original gun metal plates for striking matches and an antique bell system for alerting staff. Extra privacy was then afforded by the pub's etched and stained glass windows which feature painted shells, fairies, pineapples, fleurs-de-lis and clowns.
- "National Trust – Crown Liquor Saloon". www.nationaltrust.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2011-01-23. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- "BBC - BBC One Programmes - The Crown Jewel". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- Daugherty, Christi (26 December 2007). Frommer's Ireland 2008 - Google Books. ISBN 9780470175927. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- Middleton, Christopher (20 November 2009). "Belfast Pub Guide: The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Official website
- Crown Liquor Saloon information at the National Trust
- Official Belfast Tourism website at the Library of Congress Web Archives (archived 2006-07-24)