Historic Building Details


HB Ref No:
HB26/43/012


Extent of Listing:
Gaol including Governor's house,central building, wings and ventilation tower, boundary walls including blockhouses, front boundary railings, boundary stone pier at SW corner, tunnel leading to the Court House and staff cottages.


Date of Construction:
1840 - 1859


Address :
County Gaol Crumlin Road Belfast Co Antrim


Townland:
None






Survey 2:
A

Date of Listing:
3/4/1988

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Prison

Former Use
Prison

Conservation Area:
No

Industrial Archaeology:
No

Vernacular:
No

Thatched:
No

Monument:
No

Derelict:
No




OS Map No:
130/9 SW

IG Ref:
J3300 7530





Owner Category


Central Govt

Exterior Description And Setting


An extensive building built of masonry construction, comprising a large central block in Italianate style with four long plain gabled wings radiating from it, and a smaller gatehouse also in Italianate style standing detached to the front. Main entrance in gatehouse, and main entrance in central block, both face south. Note: The Exterior Description is divided into 18 different sections for ease of reference, numbered as follows – 1. Main Prison Entrance and Governor's House 2. Central Building 3. Inspection Hall to the rear of Central Building 4. A-Wing 5. B-Wing 6. C-Wing 7. D-Wing 8. Ventilation Tower 9. Old Kitchen 10. Tunnel leading to the Court-House 11. Reception and C-Wing Visits Block 12. Laundry 13. Hospital 14. Boundary walls and blockhouses 15. Other buildings and structures within boundary walls 16. Front boundary railings and pier 17. Staff Cottages (57-87 Crumlin Road) 18. Setting 1. MAIN PRISON ENTRANCE AND GOVERNOR'S HOUSE A two-storey building of rusticated sandstone with a slightly recessed centre containing a tetrastyle portico 'in antis'. Main elevation faces south, containing the main entrance in a central gateway to the prison, in the form of a wide arched and vaulted passage, now screened by a modern infill wall of concrete which contains a smaller rectangular entrance. South elevation symmetrical, comprising two identical two-storey end blocks, one to each side of the recessed centre. All three main blocks of the building have lead covered low single-pitched roofs hidden behind the parapets and blocking course; later replacement roofs for original slated pitched roofs, hipped over end blocks, with lead flat roof over portico. On party wall between central block and western block are two original octagonal chimney pots; on corresponding wall to eastern block are seven red large clay pots and one of rendered brickwork. Walling of rusticated sandstone in regular courses set on a deep plinth course, with vermiculated quoins and dressings to windows, faceted blocks to string course, bold projecting cornice, and shaped and fluted keystones to windows. Windows were originally rectangular timber sliding sashes, 6 over 6, with horns, to the first floor, but these have been replaced by modern metal framed fixed lights with top-hung vents, except window to left in eastern block, now opened up as a doorway leading to a modern military hangar; and 9 over 9, with horns, to the ground floor, now with modern replacements similar to first floor. Stone panels below windows on each floor are vermiculated. Cill of right hand window to first floor of eastern block has been partly built up with concrete blockwork. Each end block is two windows wide to each floor; parapet balustraded in sections corresponding to windows below. Recessed centre has four rusticated Doric giant columns, with corresponding pilasters to each side; entablature similar to end blocks but without balustraded parapet. Main entrance originally formed by a large central semi-circular archway with vermiculated voussoirs recessed behind the screen of rusticated columns, and containing a pair of rectangular iron-bound double doors each leaf 12-panelled, and surmounted by a grille of iron bars, but the rectangular doorway is now open and the whole archway is screened off by a later modern concrete wall, lined and blocked, set flush with the columns. The current main entrance is a central rectangular doorway in the concrete screen, containing steel plated double doors. To each side of the main entrance, recessed between the columns to each side, in the plane of the original archway, is a narrow semi-circular arched window with vermiculated surrounds: originally timber sliding sashes, vertically hung, with small panes, but now both closed, using concrete blockwork to the one in western block; original iron bars affixed to both. Block to east has a sunken basement of basalt rubble, whitened; later metal casement and fixed light replacement windows. West elevation is similar to the south elevation of each end block, except three windows wide to each floor; three sets of balustrades in parapet. Left hand ground floor window now opened up as a doorway enclosed by a linking passage to a temporary modern building; central ground floor window opened up as a doorway containing a steel plated door; right hand window has replacement timber sashes, 2 over 2, with horns. First floor windows have replacement glazing as to entrance front. Rear elevation is of two storeys, comprised of the two end blocks linked by original single storey screen walls of stonework flanking a central gateway projecting in front of a recessed centre which is hidden behind a modern screen of concrete brickwork and preformed metal sheeting raised on the stone walls below. Architectural character and detailing of original building is similar to main entrance elevation. Each end block is two windows wide to the first floor. Block to east has modern replacement windows to first floor; timber replacement window to ground floor with doorway to right of it; basement storey visible in well. Block to west has original windows to first floor but covered over by later grilles. One large segmental arched window to ground floor, with rusticated voussoirs; tripartite timber window with prominent mullions containing a large central rectangular timber sashed window, 4 over 8, with horns, flanked by narrower sidelights of rectangular timber sashes, 2 over 4, with horns, all surmounted by fanlights. This was originally the doorway or gateway leading into the 'van room'. Within recessed centre, behind modern screen at first floor level, the rear elevation of the central block has one window to each side of a large central archway. Window to left has original rectangular timber sliding sashes, 8 over 8, with horns; but reglazed with reeded glass and altered to include a top-hung vent; window to right has replacement metal casements. Some rusticated voussoirs of the central archway cut into by the modern angled roof of modern additions below. East elevation is similar to the west elevation except as follows: one baluster missing from parapet; stone panels below windows on ground floor are merely rough-faced, not vermiculated; central opening on ground floor is a doorway, forming the main entrance to the Governor's House. Doorway semi-circular arched with vermiculated voussoirs; rectangular timber double doors, each leaf 3-panel, surmounted by a semi-circular fanlight with decorative radial metal glazing bars. Three granite steps up to entrance flanked by original plain iron railings mounted on low walls of large sandstone blocks, carried on a basement projection in whitened brickwork with a rectangular window to each side looking into the sunk basements. Sunk basement to each side of steps, surrounded by low plinth walls mounted with original iron railings. Basement walls of basalt rubble, whitened; two windows in basement in main elevation, in line with windows above, both with later replacement glazing behind original iron bars. On the main entrance elevation, on the south side of the building, the original main entrance to the prison, in the form of a stone arched and vaulted passageway is now enclosed by later additions. All of the original stonework within the passageway is now painted except the voussoirs of the archway to the south; passageway floored in concrete. The passageway comprises a tall semi-circular vaulted main compartment, with recessed coffers to the vault, with painted flush surfaces to walls of the vaulted bay to each side, each side containing two openings; with single-storey rusticated walls extending to the rear of the building on each side beyond the rear arch, each wall containing one opening. All openings are semi-circular arched except central one in west wall which is rectangular, a later alteration. All openings contain recessed plain semi-circular arches; those on west wall closed by a barred gate and by a modern flush rectangular door; those on east wall as follows: central one is an open doorway; one to left is a blocked doorway; one to right is a window or hatch with wooden cill and modern glazing. 2. CENTRAL BUILDING A three-storey building of oblong form and essentially rectangular plan with a polygonal bay to the rear from which extend four radial wings. Main entrance faces south. South elevation is three-storey, three-bay, symmetrical, with a central doorway in a slightly recessed entrance bay. Built of honey-coloured sandstone, much blackened in parts. Hipped roof behind parapet; original slates now finished with waterproof covering; original chimney stacks now removed. Slightly recessed central entrance bay is 3 windows wide, flanked by outer bays which are 2 windows wide and have vermiculated rusticated quoins to extremities, except for plinth courses. Moulded projecting stringcourse at first floor level; moulded cornice to top, carried on shaped sandstone brackets, surmounted by a smooth cement rendered blocking course with moulded sandstone coping. Main walling is of smooth sandstone ashlar to ground floor, but of pecked surface to upper floors, all laid in regular courses. Doorway and windows on ground floor set in continuous unmoulded semi-circular surrounds within semi-circular headed recessed openings, with vermiculated rusticated dressings, and linked by a moulded stringcourse at impost level. Doorway incorporated in a triple-arcaded arrangement with two narrower sidelights. Rectangular timber double doors, each leaf 3-panel, raised and fielded, with large rounded nail heads to rails; moulded frame; semi-circular fanlight with decorative metal radial glazing bars. Sidelights are round-headed timber sliding sashes, vertically hung, 6 over 6, with horns, with radial tracery lights; moulded sandstone cill, raised, with vermiculated rustication to front of panel; iron bars fixed in front of sashes. Windows in two outer bays of ground floor are similar but longer, and sashed 10 over 10, with radiating tracery lights. First floor windows to central bay are rectangular, set in vermiculated rusticated block surrounds, arranged as a triplet with central opening blind; timber windows to each side, fixed lights with top-hung vents, later replacements for timber sashed originals; moulded cills, raised with vermiculated rustication to panel below; iron bars affixed. Windows in two outer bays of first floor are rectangular timber sliding sash, vertically hung, 8 over 8, with horns, set in plain raised long-and-short block surrounds; iron bars affixed; window opening to extreme left is blind. Second floor windows to central bay of a similar triplet arrangement to those on first floor, with blind central opening, but set in plain raised block surrounds as previous; window to left is timber sliding sash, 4 over 4, with horns, without iron bars to exterior, but corresponding window to right covered over by modern flush security door leading on to a small modern iron balcony supported on angled struts. Windows to two outer bays of second floor are identical to those of first floor except that those in bay to right have been later blocked up with concrete brick. This elevation of the building is spoiled by the later addition of modern metal trunking, lines of cables, and floodlights. Entrance approached by a flight of modern exterior steps with concrete piers, plain modern steel railings, and snecked artificial stonework. Basement in recessed central bay, but mostly now obscured by later steps to porch, leaving only a portion of a basement window now visible. Extending to the left of south elevation is a curved screen wall of snecked rough faced basalt containing a gateway of square ashlar sandstone piers, but all raised to approximately double height by concrete brickwork; modern plain steel double gates. West elevation is 3-storey plus a basement storey. Eight windows wide overall, from southern extremity to angle with projecting wing. End return of entrance front occupies first two windows from south: of sandstone ashlar with pecked surface, in regular courses, with rusticated quoins to extremities; moulded cornice on shaped brackets, with blocking course, all returning from entrance front; walling to left of that set back slightly, of snecked basalt rubble; cornice and blocking course as previous to entrance front. The group of four windows on second floor within main elevational recess, denotes the original chapel. All windows are set in plain raised block surrounds as previous to entrance front, but some later blocked with cement, or re-glazed with glass bricks, or given replacement glazing not to original pattern. Basement of basalt rubble, whitened, approached down steps. Downpipes of cast iron and PVC. Ground floor and basement area now largely obscured from view by later modern temporary buildings. East elevation similar to west, with basement approached down ramp from south end; some original windows intact, rectangular timber sliding sash, 6 over 6, with horns, but others altered or later blocked; first window from south on second floor originally blind. Rear elevation has three faces of a full-width polygonal bay, containing the Inspection Hall, revealed in the angles between the radiating link blocks connecting with the cell-block wings, described as follows. 3. INSPECTION HALL TO THE REAR OF CENTRAL BUILDING Each of the three revealed faces is 3-storeys high, and one window wide, on a basement, with a window on the ground floor, the first floor and the second floor, although one ground floor window now partly blocked and another altered to a doorway and enclosed by later additions. Walls of basalt rubble with projecting sandstone plinth above basement, and moulded sandstone cornice surmounted by a smooth cement rendered parapet with plain sandstone coping. Windows are semi-circular headed metal fixed lights, 5 panes wide by 4 panes high, with radiating tracery lights, set in plain raised semi-circular sandstone block surrounds. 4. A-WING An extensive gabled rectangular stone cell-block, 3 storeys high and 31 bays long, connected by a lower and narrower 3-storey rectangular link block to the polygonal rear bay of the Central Building from which it projects radially toward the west. South face of link block, facing main road: three storeys high, on a basement, and 3 windows wide; part of ground floor and all of basement now obscured by modern preformed metal-clad additions. Walls of snecked basalt rubble; roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses; moulded cast iron gutter. Windows are original round-headed metal fixed lights, 5 panes wide by 4 panes high, with radiating tracery lights, set in semi-circular arched openings with raised sandstone block surrounds. East gable of cell-block to each side of link block is blank walling with rusticated sandstone quoins and moulded projecting sandstone copings, with short returns from the moulded cornices of the long side elevations; snecked basalt walling to front or south side and apex of gable; roughly coursed basalt rubble to rear or north side. South elevation of cell-block, facing main road: walling of snecked coursed basalt, of light tone for first 15 bays from right to left of ground and first floor; the rest is of darker tone; rusticated sandstone quoins to extremities; projecting sandstone plinth; projecting sandstone eaves course; anti-climbing bars attached below eaves. Roof covering of metal cladding; moulded gutters, with cast iron downpipes painted green, and PVC downpipes unpainted. Cell windows are segmental headed, metal, with small panes, set in raised rectangular plain block surrounds of sandstone with projecting keystone; original metal bars affixed within surrounds, plus later iron bars affixed to outside face of surrounds. Last two bays at west end have larger rectangular windows set in sandstone block surrounds, similar to those in side elevations of Central Building. Two doorways: one at tenth bay from west, set in block surrounds of similar detailing to standard cell windows, but blocked with snecked basalt, surmounted by later concrete cill to small paned metal fanlight; one at eighth bay from east: segmental headed within raised rectangular plain block surround of similar detailing to previous; rectangular timber door set in wooden frame, with segmental headed fanlight now blocked; modern steel barred gate. West gable of cell-block is three-storey; walling of roughly coursed basalt rubble, but uncoursed and repointed to apex of gable which looks like later repair work; rusticated sandstone quoins to right-hand extremity and to second floor of left-hand extremity, below which wall extends flush as a screen wall of raking profile to yard behind. Moulded projecting sandstone copings to gable, with short returns of moulded sandstone cornice. Two windows, one each to first floor and to second floor, set in rectangular block sandstone surrounds as to south elevation, but blocked up and barred. Two later square ventilation grilles to ground floor, crudely dressed with concrete brick. Rear elevation of cell-block, facing north: three-storey with repetitive small cell windows similar to south elevation, with similar roof except for addition of prominent modern ventilators. Walling of roughly coursed basalt rubble of dark tone to ground and first floor; lighter tone to second floor. Last two bays to west are different from rest: second windows from end on each floor are smaller than standard cell windows, but detailing to sandstone dressings is similar; windows at end on each floor are larger, in rectangular sandstone block surrounds; one on ground floor now opened up to form a later doorway with iron plated door and iron barred gate. Five other doorways to left of that, three of them blocked; three with jambs of brickwork; and two with jambs of cement. Moulded cast iron gutter with PVC downpipe to each extremity; other downpipes now encased in full height modern metal ducts. At sixth and seventh bays from east, granite steps to basement area, contained by plain iron railings. Rear or north face of link block to A-Wing is similar to south face except wall is of basalt rubble; all but top storey is obscured by modern pre-formed metal clad later addition. 5. B-WING A long gabled rectangular stone cell-block 3 storeys high and 19 bays long, connected by a lower and narrower 3-storey rectangular link block to the polygonal rear bay of the Central Building from which it projects radially at an angle toward the north. West face of link block: similar in arrangement and design to the link block of A-Wing, with walling of basalt rubble; top floor only visible above later modern additions in rustic brick with preformed metal roof covering filling in the angle between A-Wing and B-Wing. South gable of cell-block to each side of link block, is blank walling of basalt rubble with rusticated sandstone quoins and moulded projecting sandstone copings, with short returns from the moulded cornices of the long side elevations. West elevation of cell-block: walling of roughly coursed basalt rubble, with rusticated sandstone quoins to extremities; projecting sandstone eaves course; projecting sandstone plinth; moulded cast iron gutter with cast iron downpipe to south end, but lower part replaced by PVC; downpipe at north end is PVC. PVC soil pipes. Repetitive cell windows, similar to those of A-Wing. Ground floor partly obscured by later modern passageway and screen of preformed metal panels. Modern overhead link passage projecting from sixth bay from north on second floor. Roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses; three sets of original flush rooflights; conical iron roof ventilators arranged in four pairs, but two of the ventilators missing, probably of early 20th century date; four later modern ventilators of rectangular form. North gable of cell-block: three-storey; walling of roughly coursed basalt rubble, with rusticated sandstone quoins to extremities; projecting sandstone plinth, moulded projecting sandstone copings to gable with short returns of moulded sandstone eaves course from main elevations. Three original openings, centrally positioned, comprising a ground floor doorway and two windows above. Doorway has a pair of rectangular timber double doors, ledged, and glazed with small panes, below a segmental headed fanlight with vertical glazing bars, all set in a rectangular sandstone block surround with segmental arch to underside of head; iron bars affixed to fanlight and iron gate affixed over doors; spalling to jambs. Windows are segmental arched, with similar surrounds as to doorway; perspex replacement glazing with modern steel bars behind original iron bars. To left of doorway is a later doorway inserted; flush iron door set in modern cement rendered surround crudely imitating stonework. East elevation of B-Wing is similar to west, except roof slates appear to be laid in diminishing courses; cast iron downpipes to each end; perspex screens affixed to windows of first and second floor except those in end bays; those in end bays on upper floors are also without later bars affixed and have only original bars; walling and roofing as to west elevation. At seventh and eighth bays from left, four modern cement rendered w.c. cubicles with flat concrete roof; doors missing. Tenth bay from left on ground floor has later doorway inserted below original cell window: cement dressings to jambs; steel barred door. East face of link block to B-Wing: 3-storey on a basement storey; 3 windows wide; walling of basalt rubble; windows of main wall round-headed as previous; basement has one rectangular window dressed in red brick; replacement timber frame rotted; no glazing; iron bars affixed; projecting sandstone cill. At ground floor level, between two windows, a segmental brick arch projects from the centre forming a flying buttress to the podium of the tall ventilation tower; window to right later partly opened up to form a doorway leading to enclosed area around foot of ventilation tower. 6. C-WING A long gabled rectangular stone cell-block 3 storeys high and 19 bays long, connected by a lower and narrower 3-storey rectangular link block to the polygonal rear bay of the Central Building from which it projects radially at an angle toward the north. West face of link block is similar to adjacent east face of link block to B-Wing, including brick arched flying buttress to ventilating tower. Windows of ground floor, first floor and second floor, to left-hand side, all later closed with concrete blockwork behind original glazing. Basement has two windows: the one to right is rectangular timber sliding sash, vertically hung, 2 over 2, without horns, set in rendered brick surrounds; iron bars affixed; to the left, the corresponding window has been shortened to a small 6-panel timber fixed light due to later raising of ground level by a flight of concrete steps. South gable of cell-block to each side of link block is blank walling of basalt rubble with rusticated sandstone quoins and moulded projecting sandstone copings, with short returns from the moulded cornices of the long side elevations. West elevation of cell-block: walling of roughly coursed basalt rubble with rusticated sandstone quoins to extremities; projecting sandstone eaves course; projecting sandstone plinth; moulded cast iron gutter with cast iron downpipes to each end; cast iron soil pipes. Repetitive cell windows, all with later extra bars affixed except to first three bays from left on ground floor. Extreme left-hand window on ground floor has later doorway inserted below it: iron plated door set in rendered jambs. Second window from left on ground floor has diagonal pattern lattice glazing. Tenth window from left on ground floor has a later doorway inserted below it; firebrick dressings to jambs; steel barred gate. Roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses; three original conical metal ventilators and five modern rectangular ventilators. North gable of cell-block is similar in size and detail to north gable of B-Wing except ground floor whitened. Later square opening inserted high in wall to right-hand side covered by double doors of steel. Central ground floor doorway and window in each floor above dressed in sandstone as to previous wings; iron barred gate and fanlight, unglazed. Windows are segmental headed timber sliding sash, vertically hung, 10 over 10, with horns. East elevation of cell-block is of similar character to west: 3 storeys plus a basement storey, with repetitive cell windows; moulded cast iron gutter, and cast iron downpipe to each end. Basement storey revealed from first to third bay from south, then obscured by later single storey addition in concrete brickwork. Basement windows to left-hand end have original bars but are without later bars. At sixth bay from north end steps descend to passage at basement level leading along east side, around corner, and along north gable, all roofed over by a concrete slab. Three semi-circular arches in brickwork fly across from main wall to basalt retaining wall of passage on east side, and four more arches at basement level of west gable. Steps lead up toward west at end of passage but passage blocked by concrete wall; concrete floor to passage. Doorway in centre of basement of west gable. East face of link block: 3 storeys high and 3 windows wide, with a basement area covered by later kitchen block; walling of basalt rubble; windows round-headed as previous to link blocks. 7. D-WING A long gabled rectangular stone cell-block 3 storeys high and 29 bays long, connected by a lower and narrower 3-storey rectangular link block to the polygonal rear bay of the Central Building from which it projects radially toward the east. North face of link block: 3 storeys high, and 3 windows wide, on a basement storey which is covered by a later kitchen block. Walls of basalt rubble; roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses; moulded cast iron gutter. Windows are original round-headed metal fixed lights, 5 panes wide by 4 panes high, with radiating tracery lights, set in semi-circular arched openings with raised sandstone block surrounds. West gable of cell-block to each side of link block is blank basalt walling with rusticated sandstone quoins and moulded projecting sandstone copings, with short returns from the moulded cornices of the long side elevations. North elevation of cell-block: 3 storeys plus an exposed basement storey; repetitive cell windows, detailed as to previous wings. Roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses; conical metal ventilators; flush rooflights. Moulded cast iron gutters with cast iron downpipes to each end. Walling of roughly coursed basalt rubble with rusticated sandstone quoins to extremities; projecting sandstone eaves course; projecting sandstone plinth; basalt of second storey is light in tone; basalt of lower storeys is dark in tone. At eleventh bay from east on ground floor, there is a rectangular doorway now blocked up with basalt; sandstone block surrounds with concrete head to doorway now forming cill to a cell window; precise chronology of development uncertain but may have been cell window originally. To right of that is a modern concrete brickwork flying link to dining hall in yard. To left of tenth bay from west on ground floor projects another similar modern concrete brickwork flying link to dining hall in yard. East gable of cell-block: 3 storeys on a basement storey; walling of basalt rubble, with modern flush pointing; lighter tone of masonry to top storey on roughly raking profile, signifies a later additional storey. Rusticated sandstone quoins to extremities, with projecting sandstone stringcourse to top of basement storey; moulded projecting sandstone copings to gable with short returns of moulded sandstone eaves course to main elevations. Central opening to each floor level, dressed on main floors as on previous gable openings. Segmental headed timber sliding sash, vertically hung, 10 over 10, with horns, with original bars, later bars, and later steel mesh grille affixed. To right of ground floor window is a smaller original opening, dressing in sandstone as previous, but blocked with cement render, lined. Doorway to basement has rectangular sandstone surround, chamfered; opening now blocked with smooth cement render. In apex of gable is a rectangular opening covered by double doors of iron plate. Extending to north from corner of gable is a high wall of basalt rubble screening the yard of D-Wing. Later modern steel posts fixed against wall to support modern preformed metal screen. South elevation of cell-block: 3 storeys on an exposed basement storey with a sunken concrete area at its base along most of its length except where later single storey additions have been built. Roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses. Moulded cast iron guttering with cast iron downpipes to eastern end and near centre; PVC downpipe to western end. Soil pipes in both cast iron and PVC. Walling of snecked basalt, of light tone to basement, ground floor and first floor, for first 15 bays from west; and of dark tone for the storey above that, and all of the walling eastwards from the sixteenth storey to the eastern end. Repetitive windows, all of standard cell type, as previous, except for second to eleventh bays from left in basement storey which are larger, but with similar style of dressings. First window opening from left now covered by later single storey addition in basalt rubble with firebrick dressings. Fifth window from left in basement has a doorway later inserted; original sandstone jambs of window extended down in smooth cement render; steel barred gate. The eighth to tenth bays on ground floor are obscured by a modern cement rendered flying link block connecting with a modern two-storey gabled gymnasium. Most of the area in front of D-Wing is also occupied by modern single and two-storey additions. South face of link block, facing main road: 3 storeys high and 3 windows wide, on a basement which is obscured by modern additions; walls of snecked basalt rubble. Roof, guttering, and window types and detailing all as previous to north face. 8. VENTILATION TOWER To the rear of The Circle, in the angle between the link blocks to B-Wing and C-Wing, and connected to their exterior faces on the ground floor by two brickwork arches, stands the tall circular ventilation tower: a cylindrical shaft of brickwork, of flaring or battered profile near the base; polygonal podium of brick partly dressed in cement render, painted black; deep sandstone top to the tower, banded with iron straps and carried on shaped sandstone corbels; shaft banded with three iron straps at intermediate point. Gaps between ventilation tower and corners of the cells blocks of B-Wing and C-Wing, originally open, but now closed by modern concrete blockwork of single storey height. Within small enclosure are steps up to link block of B-Wing. 9. OLD KITCHEN To the rear of The Circle, in the angle between the link blocks to C-Wing and D-Wing and abutting their exterior faces is a later single storey kitchen with red brick walls and polygonal rooflight crowned by a conical metal ventilator cowl; modern single-storey concrete brickwork link projects toward east to modern gabled dining hall block. 10. TUNNEL LEADING TO THE COURT-HOUSE Close to the south-west corner of the Central Building, at basement level, is the entrance to the tunnel which extends under the main road and leads to the interior of the Court-House opposite the Prison. Tunnel entrance contained within a concrete roofed enclosure of no special architectural interest. 11. RECEPTION AND C-WING VISITS BLOCK Standing to the east of the Central Building and to the south of D-Wing to which it connects at the rear by a passage to the first bay in the basement: a single storey gabled building of snecked basalt and rusticated sandstone quoins, with gabled blocks attached to the rear. South elevation has seven rectangular doorways set in sandstone block surrounds: five now blocked up. Moulded cast iron gutter; modern preformed metal cladding to roof. West gable has wooden barge boards; rectangular doorway, as previous, now blocked up; rectangular window to left, original small-paned metal, set in sandstone block surrounds, but blocked up on inside; small square window opening to right, similar surrounds, unglazed, blocked up on inside. East gable hidden by modern addition. East gable of rear block has a rectangular doorway and two windows set in sandstone block surrounds; doorway blocked; windows small-paned metal. Gable painted to window-head height; unpainted above, with ocular opening in apex; modern preformed metal decking to roof. Gabled block to north of that now altered considerably but retains timber King-post truss to roof visible from exterior in open shed-bay; modern rendered single storey extension to north of that. 12. LAUNDRY A one and two-storey building in semi-derelict condition, built of basalt rubble with brick dressings to windows, and brick eaves courses. It comprises a gabled two-storey block to the south, with a two-storey return to the north, the return flanked each side by single storey wings. Present main entrance faces north in the two-storey return. North elevation comprises a central two-storey block with flanking single storey wings; hipped roofs of Bangor blue slates, with raised timber louvres to the wings. Red brick chimney with sandstone cornice. Rectangular main entrance in two-storey projection, set in cement rendered reveals: ledged timber door with glazed panels. Two window openings to ground floor, one now blocked with cill removed, the other partially blocked with projecting sandstone cill. Three windows to first floor, rectangular timber sliding sash, 6 over 6, with horns; brick surrounds and projecting sandstone cills; bars affixed; cement render to head of one window. Wings abutted by later single storey additions of poor quality. East face of two-storey block has parapet wall; rectangular windows with brick jambs and cement rendered heads; east side of wing blank. East elevation comprises gable of two-storey south block to the left linked to single storey hipped roofed wing to right by a yard wall. Wall of wing blank but trace of blocked up opening apparent; yard wall has rectangular window, timber sliding sash vertically hung, 9 over 9, with horns. Gable to left has red brick chimney on apex; two windows to ground floor, timber sashes, 6 over 6, with horns. South elevation has sashed windows to ground floor, set in rectangular cement rendered surrounds added over original brick dressings; small ventilation grilles to first floor, later insertions, dressed in cement. Large rectangular doorway a later insertion with concrete brick dressings, steel girder to head, doors of steel plate. Single storey wing extends to left hand side: of similar character to previous, with two rectangular sashed windows in later rendered brick dressings. West elevation of original basalt buildings obscured by later single storey red brick addition of no architectural merit; it abuts end of A-Wing of the main prison. 13. HOSPITAL A two-storey gabled building of basalt rubble with a wing which was originally single storey with a slated gabled roof which has now been given a modern first floor and a modern two-storey extension. Main entrance faces south. South elevation of original building comprises a two-storey block, four windows wide, with a two-storey pedimented entrance bay projecting forward to right, and a single storey wing three windows wide set back slightly to the right of that. Walling of main two-storey block is roughly coursed basalt rubble with rusticated sandstone quoins to the left hand extremity; projecting sandstone eaves course and plinth; roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses; moulded cast iron gutter with cast iron downpipe to right hand extremity; bottom of downpipe broken off; windows rectangular small-paned metal fixed lights, with iron bars affixed; set in sandstone block surrounds; modern steel bars fixed to main wall above and below surrounds. Entrance bay has similar walling, with rusticated quoins to extremities, except that basalt is snecked in regular courses below sandstone stringcourse at impost level on front face. Central doorway is semi-circular arched with chamfered edge to sandstone voussoirs; jambs are plain sandstone blocks. Ornamented wrought iron radial fanlight, unglazed, over modern steel barred gate into porch. Above doorway is a rectangular sandstone panel inscribed ‘VR 1898 General Prisons Board’ in raised letters and embellished with an imperial crown carved in relief. Rectangular window to first floor, as previous; moulded projecting sandstone dressings to triangular pediment above. Original single storey wing is of similar walling to main block but most of quoins at right hand extremity now covered by projecting modern gabled sentry box in concrete brick. Windows in single storey wing are as previous. First floor of wing is of modern concrete brick construction; synthetic slates to roof; PVC gutter, downpipes and soilpipes attached to original storey of wing. West gable of main block is similar walling to front elevation; large window to ground floor, rectangular timber sliding sash, vertically hung, 6 over 6, with horns. Rear elevation of main block is two-storey, with two windows to first floor to right of main two-storey rear return: large rectangular timber sliding sash, 6 over 6, with horns; one similar window to ground floor to right of lean-to block in basalt rubble with white glazed brickwork to side wall. To right of that, a two-storey short return projects forward: contains rectangular windows in original sandstone block surrounds. Rear elevation of single storey wing is partly of basalt rubble and partly of white glazed brick; a small single storey block in basalt projecting forward, with raised walls of concrete brickwork. Window surrounds of sandstone to rear elevation but some alterations. West wall of main rear return is two-storey, with three windows to each floor; detailed as previous to front elevation. Gable of main two-storey rear return is blank; walling as to entrance front; sandstone ashlar chimney on apex, with moulded cornice. East wall of main rear return: two-storey; roof slated as previous, with original flush rooflight; walling as previous to entrance front, except for an area of white glazed brickwork to left; cast iron gutter and downpipe as previous; PVC soilpipe. Four windows to first floor, rectangular timber sliding sash, vertically hung, 6 over 6, with horns; surrounds, original bars, and modern bars all as previous; extreme left window partly obscured by modern first floor extension; four windows to ground floor, three as previous; but extreme left one is a narrow rectangular timber sash, 6 over 6, with horns, set in white glazed brick reveals. 14. BOUNDARY WALLS AND BLOCKHOUSES Boundary walls are continuous around the prison on all four sides, with a blockhouse at each of the four corners. South boundary wall, external face: coursed snecked basalt, with a battered face, raised in height by modern concrete brickwork except at west end where it has been raised with basalt rubble, surmounted by original rounded stone copings. Wall broken in the centre by the main prison entrance gateway and Governor's House, with the boundary walling curving forward to abut it. At western extremity is the south-west blockhouse: a modern structure in concrete brickwork, cantilevered over the top of the corner of both south and west walls. At eastern extremity is the south-east blockhouse, described below. South boundary wall, inner face: roughly coursed basalt rubble, raised in height by modern concrete brickwork except at west end where it has been raised with basalt rubble, surmounted by original rounded stone copings. At the centre the wall is broken by the main prison entrance and the Governor's House, with the ends of the walls sweeping to south to abut it. The portion to the east of the central entrance has an offset sandstone stringcourse from the eastern extremity to the point where an original internal curved screen wall abutted the front boundary, but was later removed. South-east blockhouse, external faces: an irregular polygonal 2-storey building with battered walls of basalt ashlar in regular courses with vermiculated sandstone dressings; projecting sandstone plinth, stringcourse and cornice; modern top-storey added in concrete brickwork; main entrance is in the inner wall, facing into the prison. The two main exterior walls, facing out to south and east, are two windows wide to each floor: semi-circular arched to the ground floor, glazed 6 over 6, with iron bars and later metal grilles affixed, obscuring original glazing details; rectangular to the first floor, set in block surrounds, with glazing details now obscured by later metal grilles. The short return walls, facing west and north, each have a pair of narrow vertical window openings at first floor level. South-east blockhouse, inner face: main entrance is in centre of an angled wall of battered profile projecting into the prison compound. Wall of basalt, smooth cement rendered to ground floor, with brick quoins to the exposed stonework angles, surmounted by ashlar sandstone quoins to the angles above. Rectangular doorway dressed in red brick; iron girder to door head, rusting, looks like later insertion. East boundary wall, external face: roughly coursed basalt rubble, raised in height by modern concrete brickwork, without coping stones. At the northern extremity is a modern blockhouse of concrete brickwork. East boundary wall, inner face: as previous to outer face, with an angled face to the blockhouse at the northern extremity; angled face of square basalt, later cement rendered except for top courses; central doorway at base, rectangular, with an iron plated door; original entrance wall to original polygonal stone blockhouse now rebuilt to outer faces and replaced by a modern lookout post cantilevered over the corner of the east and north boundary walls. North boundary wall, external face: an obtuse angled wall in two portions at each side of a central rear gateway. Portion to east of gateway difficult to view due to steel mesh screening: appears to be of basalt rubble as previous to east boundary. A modern concrete brickwork blockhouse stands at the end next to the central gateway. Gateway modern, rectangular, containing a pair of electrically operated doubled doors, steel plated. Portion to west of gateway: original wall of basalt rubble but now coated with sprayed cement render, and surmounted by modern cladding panels. At the western end the wall changes plane with a short run of basalt rubble raised in height by red brickwork, apparently the inner wall of the original north-west blockhouse which has now been removed; the wall changes plane again, extending to a modern north-west blockhouse of concrete brickwork now standing at the western extremity of the north boundary where it meets the new west boundary. North boundary wall, inner face: portion to east of rear gateway is of basalt rubble, raised by concrete brickwork, uncoped; next to rear gateway is a rectangular iron doorcase with hood, containing an iron plated door. Portion of boundary wall to west of gateway is rendered, surmounted by modern cladding, as on outer face, with parts of it chipped off near western end to reveal positions of intramural burials. Returning to south from angled corner is a basalt rubble wall which abuts the west gable of A-Wing; this appears to be the original western boundary wall of the prison, now superseded by the present red brick west boundary wall located further to the west. West boundary wall, external face: a red brick wall buttressed at intervals, all smooth cement rendered, not the original boundary wall, but a later addition. West boundary wall, inner face: a red brick wall, unrendered. 15. OTHER BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES WITHIN BOUNDARY WALLS To the front of A-Wing is a bowling green, now overgrown, with a timber framed gabled shelter centrally positioned along its western edge, a post-war addition of no special architectural or historic interest. To each side of the Central building are modern temporary and pre-fabricated infill buildings of no architectural interest or merit. To the front of D-Wing and east of the Reception and C-Visits block, are a number of modern buildings, including a gabled two-storey gymnasium dating from 1959, none of them of any special historic interest or architectural merit. To the eastern end of the area between A-Wing and B-Wing (designated A-Yard) stands a modern flat roofed boiler house of double-storey height in concrete brick, with three tall cylindrical metal flues attached by iron struts to the north elevation of A-Wing; of no special architectural merit or interest. East of that is an earlier boiler house, a low gabled structure, smooth cement rendered with corrugated iron roofs, forming part of the basement area; of no architectural interest or merit. Within the area between C-Wing and D-Wing (designated D-Yard) stand modern gabled dining rooms and kitchens in concrete brickwork, of no special architectural interest or merit. To the rear of the compound, parallel with the north boundary walls, stand two ranges of stores, workshops, and offices: single storey, of various dates, and of various materials including basalt rubble, timber posts to open sheds, and slated roofs, but of no coherence, no architectural merit, and no apparent special historic interest. Internal bounding walls to yards are as follows – To western side of A-Yard, extending on to abut the north boundary wall, is a basalt rubble wall, a remnant of the original western boundary wall of the prison compound, formerly detached from A-Wing before that wing was extended by two bays, and later superseded in its original function by the present red brick west boundary wall. To eastern side of D-Yard is a basalt rubble wall, partly rendered to the western face, incorporating one of the bounding walls of an original rectangular yard or enclosure to the rear of D-Wing, and later extended northwards to abut the single storey stores. To the northern side of B and C-Yard is a modern wall of concrete brickwork, partially cement rendered and whitened, linking the northern corners of B-Wing and C-Wing: of no historic interest or architectural merit. Between the rear of the Governor's House and the front of the Central Building, the forecourt area is bounded on the west by an original curved screen wall of snecked rough faced basalt containing a gateway of square ashlar sandstone piers, but all raised to approximately double height by later concrete brickwork, and fitted with modern plain steel double gates (as described previously under the south elevation of the Central Building); original corresponding screen wall on east side of forecourt, of similar arrangement, now removed. Throughout the compound there are modern metal screens, partitions, covered passages, and shelters, which are of no architectural merit, and spoil the appearance of the original stone buildings. 16. FRONT BOUNDARY RAILINGS AND PIER Across the front of the prison grounds, bordering the pavement, are original iron railings with spear-shaped heads, mounted on a low plinth wall of snecked basalt with a sandstone coping; scrolling ornamented cast iron stays at intervals to the rear face. A number of the railings are damaged, with heads broken off, and some of the larger posts are missing from the main gateways. Three main vehicular gateways, one in the centre on axis with main prison entrance, one at the west end, and one to east of main central gateway. Main central gateway now missing original gates and piers, replaced by plain iron plated gates mounted on steel posts flanked by concrete piers; similar modern gates to large gateway at western end, recessed slightly from original boundary, with short modern railings returning back from remnants of original piers, formed by a cluster of iron pillars of Roman 'fasces' design with axe-head finials, but now much damaged; similar modern gates to large gateway to east of main central gateway, recessed slightly from original boundary, with short modern spear-headed iron railings returning back to the modern steel western post, and a short concrete brickwork wall returning back to the modern steel eastern post. At western extremity is a square stone boundary pier of rusticated and vermiculated sandstone with weathered cap, the original corner boundary pier of the prison site. Connected to it by one railing to the west is a smaller octagonal sandstone pier, a relic of the front boundary railings to Crumlin Terrace, a terrace of four 19th century houses no longer standing. Between the main central gateway and the eastern gateway is a small pedestrian gateway set into the railings which appears to be an original feature giving access originally from the street directly to the east front of the Governor's House. The original front boundary railings to the prison originally extended to the eastern extremity but they now stop at an intermediate point, to abut a later red brick hospital building inserted on part of the original prison site hard against the pavement line. The last eight sections of the remaining railings at the east end bound the ground in the ownership of this adjoining property. In this portion of the original railings there are two later small pedestrian gateways. 17. STAFF COTTAGES (57-87 CRUMLIN ROAD) A terrace of 14 two-storey houses with 2 end houses, in rustic brick in neo-Georgian style. Main entrances to the main run of terrace houses face south, while main entrances to the end houses face east and west respectively. The terrace is composed in a symmetrical arrangement comprising a central block with a parapet to the roofline, flanked each side by wings with a normal eaves-line which terminate in end blocks with parapets to the roofline. The end blocks contain one large house each; the central block gives the appearance of containing two large houses but actually contains four small houses although the entrance bays to the two outer ones actually lie within the flanking wings; the wings each contain five terrace houses as well as the entrance bays to two in the central block. The terrace stands facing the main road, in the area to the west of the main prison entrance, between the north boundary wall and the front boundary railings. There is a tarmac area in front of them and a narrower alleyway along the rear. Main elevations are as follows – No. 57 – A 2-storey house of rustic brick with projecting smooth cement rendered plinth; projecting eaves course of brick headers, and projecting stringcourse of tiles or thin bricks laid flat. Hipped roof of steep-pitched pyramidal form; natural slates in regular courses. Front elevation faces south but main entrance is in side elevation, facing east. South elevation 2-storey, 2 windows wide. First floor windows are rectangular PVC, comprising a fixed light and top-hung vent, replacing original rectangular timber, vertically hung sliding sashes, 6 over 6, with horns; set in plain brick reveals with a flat arch to the head; cill formed by projecting stringcourse. Ground floor windows are similar to first floor, but coupled, with a keystone of thin bricks set in the flat arches. Brick parapet with plain stone coping. East elevation 2-storey, 3-bay, with a slightly projecting central entrance bay, containing a doorway in the ground floor and a window in the first floor, which projects upwards as a chimney breast with swept copings of thin bricks; stone, concrete, or smooth rendered haunches; two red pots. Doorway contains a rectangular timber 6-panel door surmounted by a semi-circular fanlight with vertical glazing bars, a later replacement for radial glazing bars, set in a semi-circular brick arch recessed in a semi-circular arch of thin brick voussoirs with a brick keystone. Window on first floor is rectangular timber, vertically hung, sliding sash, 4 over 4, with horns, with a flat arch to head incorporating a brickwork keystone. Rectangular cast iron gutters to each side of entrance bay, at normal eaves line, with circular cast iron downpipe to left-hand side; parapet from south elevation has short return to entrance front. No. 59 – A 2-storey terrace house of rustic brick with projecting smooth cement rendered plinth; projecting eaves course of brick headers, and projecting stringcourse of tiles of thin bricks laid flat. Main entrance faces south. South elevation is 2-bay, comprising a doorway to the left-hand side on the ground floor, alongside a ground floor window, with a window above it in the first floor. Pitched roof of natural slates in regular courses; rustic brick chimney on party wall with adjoining house; projecting brick cornice to chimney; red clay pots. Rectangular cast iron gutter with circular cast iron downpipe. Windows are rectangular PVC, comprising a fixed light and top-hung vent, replacing original rectangular timber, vertically hung sliding sashes, 6 over 6, with horns; set in plain brick reveals with a flat arch to the head. Projecting concrete cill, painted, to ground floor window; cill to first floor window formed by projecting string course. Doorway, arranged as one of a pair with that of adjoining terrace house: rectangular timber door with four horizontal panels, surmounted by a rectangular fanlight containing metal glazing bars in diagonal and looped patterns, set in a plain rectangular brickwork opening, below a flat timber hood with moulded cornice, common to both doorways, supported on three scrolling and fluted timber brackets. No. 61 to 67 – Similar to no. 59 but alternately handed. No. 69 – Similar to no. 59, but handed, except that the window bay projects slightly forward from the entrance bay; the ground floor window is set in a semi-circular arched recess with thin bricks for voussoirs and a dropped keystone; and the wall of the window bay projects above the adjoining eaves-line, rising to a moulded stone cornice surmounted by a brick blocking course with a plain stone coping; circular cast iron downpipe in the angle between the two wall planes. Common chimney with no. 71, detailed as previous to no. 59. No. 71 – Similar to no. 59, except that the ground floor window is set in a semi-circular arched recess, as previous to no. 69; there is a recessed rectangular cement rendered panel above the doorway, common with the panel above the adjoining doorway; and the wall projects above the normal eaves-line, rising to a moulded stone cornice surmounted by a brick blocking course with a plain stone coping; no rainwater goods visible. Common chimney with no. 69, detailed as previous. No. 73 – Similar to no. 71, but handed; synthetic slates to roof, replacing natural slates; common chimney with no. 75 removed. No. 75 – Similar to no. 69, but handed; synthetic slates to roof, replacing natural slates; common chimney with no. 73 removed. No. 77 to 83 – Similar to nos. 59 to 67, but handed; synthetic slates to roof, replacing natural slates; common chimneys, at nos. 77 with 79, 81 with 83, and 85 with 87, all removed. No. 87 – Similar to no. 57 but handed, with main entrance facing west; original 4-panel doorway replaced by modern flush timber door; original radial fanlight still intact; window in first floor has 4 over 4 sashes replaced by 1 over 1 sashes; original covering of natural slates to roof partially replaced by synthetic slates. Rear elevations of all the houses are generally of plain red brick with one window to each floor, rectangular timber sliding sash, 1 over 1, with horns, with concrete lintel and concrete cill, but windows to some houses have been altered. Rear returns to the main run of terraced houses are of two storeys, gabled, of plain red brick, with one window to each floor in the side wall overlooking the yard, and two doorways, rectangular timber ledged, one leading to the kitchen and one to the coal shed, but some openings now altered and some rebuilt with flat roofs and smooth cement rendered walls. Gabled single storey smooth cement rendered and corrugated iron roofed outbuilding of no architectural quality to rear of yard of no. 57; similar outbuilding with red brick walls to rear of no. 87, with later concrete brickwork infill block occupying its yard. 18. SETTING: The building complex stands on the north side of the main road, within the built-up area of the city, and partly surrounded by currently listed buildings: a late Victorian hospital immediately to the east, a 1930s Masonic Hall immediately to the west, a High Victorian school to the north, and an early Victorian Court-House to the south, facing the prison directly across the main road, with their main entrances axially aligned, and their front boundary railings identical in original design; the prison and Court-House are also connected physically by an underground passage. To the north of the prison buildings, outside the rear boundary wall, but within the overall prison grounds, is an extensive area of tarmac, bounded on the north, east and west sides by high basalt rubble walls. To the east, the overall prison grounds beyond the main prison boundary wall, are separated from adjoining property by a basalt retaining wall, returning at the south-east corner of the site. To the south, between the south boundary walls and the front boundary railings, the
setting of the main prison entrance and Governor's House is spoiled by the close proximity of modern single storey buildings including shelters, offices, substation and garages, in various materials, and of no architectural merit or interest.


Architects


Lanyon, Charles NI Min of Finance Dept of Works and Public Bdgs Smith, Roland Ingleby

Historical Information


(i) CONCISE BUILDING HISTORY Designed in 1841 by Charles Lanyon; built 1843-5; contractor, Williams & Sons, of Dublin; original buildings completed and ready for the reception of prisoners by summer 1845; additions made in 1849-50; front boundary railings and gates built, and underground tunnel link to Court-House created, in 1850, when Court-House built opposite. Built of County Antrim basalt with Scottish sandstone dressings. Originally lighting was by gas, for which a works was erected outside the walls, immediately to the north of the original north-west blockhouse. Laundry standing to south of A-Wing, built by 1858 (probably by Lanyon c 1850 and coinciding with displacement of original laundry due to extension of D-Wing; later extensions and conversions in 1870s and 1920s. Hospital standing to north-west of B-Wing, built 1898, architect not known. Staff cottages at 57 to 87 Crumlin Road designed in 1927 by the architects to the Northern Ireland Department of Works and Public Buildings under R.I. Smith, Chief Architect. (ii) ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY Originally built as the Belfast District Bridewell and House of Correction, but shortly afterwards became the County Gaol when the county assizes was transferred from Carrickfergus to Belfast. Originally run by a Board of Superintendence and a body of Commissioners, both appointed by the Grand Jury of County Antrim, but in 1877 control passed to the newly created General Prisons Board of Ireland; in 1921 control passed to the Northern Ireland Government. Closed for the holding of prisoners on 31st March 1996. (iii) THE ORIGINAL LAYOUT On the evidence of a preliminary plan of c 1841 (modified in execution), several brief descriptions published in the 1850s and 1860s, and a detailed layout depicted on the large scale OS maps of Belfast in 1858, it would appear that the original layout comprised a 'Bridewell for Females' in A-Wing, a 'Bridewell for Males' in B-Wing, a 'House of Correction for Males' in C-Wing, and a 'House of Correction for Females' in D-Wing; two long ranges of stonebreakers' sheds running parallel with the rear boundary walls, either side of a depot for stones; a circular arrangement of 'Recreation Yards for Males' in the area between wings A and B, and a rectangular arrangement of 'Recreation Yards for Females' in the area in front of wing D; and an angular blockhouse at each of the four main corners of the boundary wall. Wings A and D were originally shorter than now, with a detached Fever Hospital standing to the west of wing A and a detached Laundry and Washing House standing to the east of wing D; these detached buildings later made way for extensions to the wings. (iv) DEVELOPMENT OF THE WINGS Wings A and D originally two storeys high (discounting the basement of D); date when raised a storey not known; wings B and C were three storeys high from the start. Cell blocks of wings A and D originally shorter than now: both originally 15 bays long; both extended to 29 bays by 1858 (presumably as part of the additions of 1849-50); A-Wing subsequently extended to 31 bays at an unknown date. Wings B and C were 19 bays long from the start. Wing A originally had a doorway to the exterior at the eighth bay on the south side of the ground floor. The original contract drawings showed the eighth bay on the north side on the first floor containing a stairway to the roofspace. Wing B originally had a doorway to the exterior at the tenth bay along on each side, with a passageway to outside created by having no door to each of those 'cells'. The original contract drawings showed the twelfth bay or cell space on the east side on the second floor containing a stairway to the roofspace. (v) THE GOVERNOR'S HOUSE Built as part of the original layout; originally two separate 'houses', one each side of a central arched driveway, and not originally connected internally by stairs or by passages at first floor level. The block to the east was the actual Governor's House; the block to the west included the guardroom and bedrooms for the turnkeys. Later (date uncertain) the two blocks were linked inside at first floor level by a stairway from the Governor's House over the arched driveway and up to a passage created in the western block, from which an internal stairway in the same area was removed. In 1953 the Governor's House was converted to Staff Quarters by the architects of the Northern Ireland Department of Works and Public Buildings; bedrooms in both blocks were subdivided into smaller cubicles while the main ground floor rooms of the eastern block, the dining room on the north side and the drawing room on the south side, became a reading room and a recreation room respectively. (vi) LATER ALTERATIONS AND ADDITIONS 1924: Bath house and Laundry converted to workshops. 1928: Weighbridge House removed. 1930: Rag store removed from angle between wings B and C. 1930: Part of the eastern portion of the ground in front of the south boundary wall transferred to ownership of the Mater Hospital for building of a laboratory, erected in 1934. 1934: Padded cell converted from an existing cell in B-Wing, fitted out to the design of Pocock Brothers Ltd, of London, under the direction of R.I. Smith, Chief Architect, Ministry of Finance Department of Works and Public Buildings. 1938: New roof over the cookhouse. 1940: Staircases of D-Wing covered with oak treads. 1941: A portion of the boundary wall to the rear at the west end was damaged by air raid; rebuilt in 1942. 1950: Stonebreakers' sheds to east replaced by modern sheds and workshops. 1953: Governor's House converted to Staff Quarters. 1959: Concert hall and gymnasium added, by J. Forbes LRIBA of Ministry of Finance. 1961: internal tiling to floors and walls of the hospital. 1964: Basement area of D-Wing fitted out with baths and showers. 1969: Stonebreakers' sheds to west replaced by modern sheds and shelters. 1969: New kitchen and dining block completed. 1970: New boiler house completed. 1974: New recreation block completed to north of kitchen and dining block. (vii) ORIGINS AND BACKGROUND OF THE ORIGINAL DESIGN The layout of the prison, with a number of wings containing a number of storeys of individual cells opening on to continuous galleries, radiating from a central inspection hall, was based on that of Pentonville Prison in London (1840-2), known at the time as 'The Model Prison' as it demonstrated the latest theories in penal planning and was intended to establish a model to be followed by subsequent prisons. Pentonville was built to a plan designed by Major Joshua Jebb of the Royal Engineers, the surveyor-general of convict prisons, with the architectural features designed by the architect Charles Barry. Pentonville's layout had been influenced by the plan of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, USA (1823-35) designed by John Haviland, which was the first to be laid out on the radial cellular system. Eastern State Penitentiary had seven wings off a circular core; Pentonville had four wings off a polygonal core. Eastern State Penitentiary was universally accepted as the pioneering example of the new functional concept for penal architecture, and its radial layout was still being followed well into the 20th century in countries such as the USA, South America and Spain. Its concept of separate confinement was studied and published by the English penologist William Crawford in London in 1834, and shortly afterwards influenced the design of Pentonville which in turn dictated developments in British penal architecture for the next thirty years. Within six years of Pentonville, 54 new prisons were erected on the radial plan of cellular confinement, including Reading (1842-4), Belfast (1843-5), and Holloway (1851-2). The Pentonville model dominated British prison design until the building of Wormwood Scrubs, London, in 1873-85, established the claims of the 'pavilion' principle and its plan gradually replaced the radiating arrangement. Charles Lanyon, as County Surveyor for Antrim, was directed by the Grand Jury of Antrim to prepare plans for the Belfast prison in 1840 and by the next year, 1841, the site, plan, and specification was all agreed upon. He then made a visit to Pentonville, which had only recently started on site, although only minor changes of detail were felt necessary to Lanyon's scheme following that visit. The prison in Belfast was therefore right up-to-date at the time. (viii) BASIS OF THE ORIGINAL DESIGN The basis of the original design was what was known at the time as the 'separate system' of confinement as demonstrated by the example of the 'Model Prison' at Pentonville. This system meant the perpetual separation of the prisoners from each other. Under this system each prisoner had an individual cell (all now stripped of their original fittings); exercise was carried out in individual pens (all now demolished); and the separation of prisoner from prisoner was even carried out in the chapel (now remodelled and refurnished) which was divided into compartments and could hold 348 prisoners. Each cell was equipped with its own earthenware w.c. pan, a washing basin, and a bell to call the warder when required. Sleeping was in a hammock. Presumably, since the model of Pentonville Prison was closely followed, the furnishings also included a small table with a shaded gas burner above it, and a stool. As at Pentonville, prisoners carried out work in their own cells. The cell size at Pentonville (with measurements published as 7 ' x 13 ' and 9 ' high) was followed closely at Belfast. The bell system was presumably also like that of Pentonville, which involved a hand-spring communicating with a bell, which caused a small iron tablet to project outside to identify the relevant cell (none of this equipment now remaining). Ventilation was also apparently in the manner of Pentonville, with foul air carried off, and the circulation of atmosphere maintained, by means of perforated iron plates above the door of the cell, which communicated with a large air shaft in the roofspace. The cell doors appear to have been originally in the manner of those at Pentonville, which had a frame of oak; a door of steel, framed flush on both sides, with strong iron plating on the side next to the cell, riveted through; a small eye-hole in the upper panel, with cast iron escutcheon; and a square trapdoor in the panel beneath, let down by a spring, through which meals could be conveyed. The food of the prisoners, when prepared, was elevated to the various corridors or galleries "by ingenious machinery, and conveyed from cell to cell along a species of railway" as a contemporary account described it; this was clearly in emulation of the arrangement at Pentonville where metal carriages ran on four wheels along the top of the railings of the balconies to each side in front of the doors of the cells and straddling the open well between. Separation in the chapel was presumably achieved in the manner of Pentonville, whereby all the prisoners proceeded separately to the chapel, and could hear and see the person officiating, without seeing their fellow prisoners; each prisoner as he entered his row of seats closed the side door of his compartment after him and when a row was filled the officer fastened the whole of the doors in the row by a handle and crank. The back of each row of seats was of such a height as to intercept the communication between the rows when the prisoners were standing up, and yet not so high as to conceal them when sitting down. Presumably the prisoners were required to attend the chapel each day, as at Pentonville. It is not recorded, however, whether the system of separation at Belfast was carried out to the same degree of completeness as at Pentonville where each prisoner was required to wear over his face a mask or hood when being led out from the cell to the exercise yards or the chapel, and had to wear it again when returning, so that the prisoners would be prevented from ever seeing each other. (ix) SUMMARY OF HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE AS A PRISON This prison represented the most advanced ideas of the day in penal planning. It was the first in Ireland to be built on the radial cellular plan, and one of the earliest of its type anywhere in the British Isles, being started before the acknowledged British pioneering example, Pentonville, was finished. References – Primary Sources 1. Original contract drawings (incomplete series), pre-contract or supplementary drawings, drawings for 19th century additions, and later drawings, in possession of the N.I. Prison Service Agency [listed in Appendix to Historical Information]. 2. PRONI, LA.1/8J/111 (undated drawings for the prison laundry). 3. PRONI, LA.1/8J/113 (plan of railing to enclose the front of the prison ground, 1850). 4. PRONI, LA.1/8J/114 (undated plan and elevation of the gas works at Belfast prison). 5. Survey drawing of the prison layout by Department of Works and Public buildings, 1924, in possession of the NI Prison Service Agency. 6. Drawing for proposed workshops over bath house and laundry, by Department of Works and Public Buildings, 1924, in possession of the NI Prison Service Agency. 7. Ministry of Finance file no 'Fin 19, Belfast 60', in MBR, Hill Street, Belfast (contains drawings for housing accommodation for staff, by the Department of Works and Public Buildings, 1926 and 1927). 8. Photograph in Local History Collection, Ulster Museum (Neg. No 10/31/2). 9. Photographs in McCutcheon Collection, MBR, Hill Street, Belfast (includes view of County Court-House railings showing Prison Staff Cottages in background). 10. OS Map 1858, Co Antrim 61. 11. OS Map 1858, Belfast, Sheets 14, 15, 21 and 22 (scale: 5 feet to 1 mile). 12. OS Map 1872, Belfast, Sheet 22 (scale: 5 feet to 1 mile). 13. OS Map 1938, Co Antrim 61 (shows Staff Cottages but eliminates the actual prison from the map, except for the Governor's House). 14. Henderson's Directory 1843, p 149. 15. Belfast Almanac 1846, p 73. 16. Parliamentary Gazetteer 1846, p 237. 17. J.A. Pilson, History of Belfast (Belfast, 1846), p 172. 18. The Builder, Vol X, 1852, p 495. 19. Belfast and Ulster Directory 1852, p 44. 20. J.B. Doyle, Tours in Ulster (Dublin 1854), pp 26-27 (praises the gaol on humanitarian grounds). 21. Belfast Directory 1861, p 435. 22. W. McComb, McComb's Guide to Belfast (Belfast, 1861), pp 34-35). 23. R.M. Young, Belfast and the Province of Ulster in the 20th Century (Brighton, 1909), p 93 (illustrates a 19th century photograph showing a general view of the prison buildings including D-Wing before the addition of its top storey). Secondary Sources – 1. Belfast News-Letter, 9 July 1936 (article entitled 'Belfast Prison: First to be built in Ireland on cellular plan'). 2. Belfast Telegraph, 25 February 1958 (but article erroneously gives the date of the prison as 1850). 3. C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast 1700-1914 (London, 1967), pp 24, 26, and plate 23 (shows the main gateway before later accretions). 4. P. Larmour, Belfast: An Illustrated Architectural Guide (Belfast, 1987), pp 12 and 13 (includes two 19th century photographs). 5. P. Larmour, 'Sir Charles Lanyon', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-90, pp 200-206 (pp 201-202 refer to the prison). APPENDIX: DRAWINGS IN POSSESSION OF NI PRISON SERVICE AGENCY ORIGINAL CONTRACT DRAWINGS – Note: out of at least 46 contract drawings only 11 have survived. No 5 Plan of Sewers and Section of Ground, s. C. Lanyon, Archt. No XVIII Details of Doors etc. No XX Details of Windows in Central Building, s. C. Lanyon, Archt. No XXII Untitled [Details of cast iron girders to carry arches of the passage of the outer building and floor of Inspection Hall]. No XXIII Details of Galleries in Inspection Hall. No XXIV Wing A [Plans], s. C. Lanyon, Archt. [2 storeys high and 15 bays high]. No XXV Plans of Wing B [3 storeys high and 19 bays long]. No XXXV Details of Windows at the End of Prison Wings. No XXXVII Water-Closets etc [includes section of spouting to passages between Central Building and Prison Wings]. No XLIII Plans of Fever Hospital [Roof plan and a longitudinal section]. No XLVI Details of Recreation Yards for Females. ORIGINAL PRE-CONTRACT OR SUPPLEMENTARY DRAWINGS – Unnumbered Ground Plan (a preliminary plan, modified in execution]. No 5 Plan of Sewers and Section of Ground [blockplan modified in execution], s. R. Young Oct 18th 1842. No VI Entrance Gate and Governor's House [floor plans], s. Arthur Auchmuty Oct (?) 22nd 184_ (date cropped from drawing). DRAWINGS FOR 19TH CENTURY ADDITIONS – No 2 Plan of Drying Loft. Unsigned and undated. [Probably part of the laundry block to the south of A-Wing.] No 3 Section thro' New Wing [of washing cells]. Unsigned and undated. [Probably part of the laundry block to the south of A-Wing.] LATER DRAWINGS – Padded Cells (Pocock Pads). Full size detail of channel and outlet. Unsigned; dated 3.11.25 (blueprint). Inspection in door to Padded Cell as fixed at Holloway Prison. [Half size details]. Unsigned; dated 1.2.1926 (blueprint). Proposed new padded room. [Detailed plan and sectional details of fittings.] Issued by Pocock Brothers Ltd, 235 Southwark Bridge Road, London S.E. 1. Proposed new padded room. Plan showing work to be executed by Prison Staff. [Plan and details of timber fixings]. Issued by Pocock Brothers Ltd. Window ventilation for padded and special cells (other than silent cells). Unsigned; dated 29.7.27 (blueprint). Existing cell to be converted into padded cell. s. R.I. Smith, Chief Architect, Ministry of Finance, Dept. of Works and Public Buildings, dated 2.8.33. [Notes that inside walls are built of stone rubble plastered with average thickness of 1", and door of wood having 1/16" thick steel lining on cell side; and shows a 4" diameter heating pipe just above floor level across inside of exterior wall].

Criteria for Listing


Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form E. Spatial Organisation F. Structural System G. Innovatory Qualities H+. Alterations enhancing the building H-. Alterations detracting from building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

V. Historical Association/Authorship Y. Social Importance W. National/International Interest Z. Scarcity



Evaluation


This is an early Victorian building complex of exceptional architectural and historic interest, designed by one of the leading Irish architects of the time. It is of international interest as being an early example, the first one in Ireland, of an innovatory approach to prison planning and organisation. Later alterations and replacement fabric have, for the most part, not done irreparable or permanent damage to the original buildings and the essential layout, plan-form, spatial organisation, and structural systems all remain intact, together with the most notable interior fittings. Together with the former Court-House opposite, the prison forms part of a very important architectural group.

General Comments




Date of Survey


Sunday, June 20, 1999