History and background

Image: Photograph showing Belfast City Hall in 1903 For centuries, Belfast had been a small settlement.

Everything changed in 1613, when a Royal charter gave the city town status.

Belfast expanded rapidly as a result, becoming an important port and manufacturing centre.

By the end of the 19th century, Belfast had outgrown its status as a town and was a major industrial powerhouse, known for its shipbuilding, ropemaking, engineering, tobacco and textile industries.

In 1888, Queen Victoria gave Belfast the title of city and it was generally agreed that a new city hall was needed to reflect this change in status.

Building work

Negotiations to acquire the one and a half acre White Linen Hall site, located in Donegall Square, began in 1896 and a price of £30,000 was agreed.

The new hall was built by local firm H+J Martin, following a design from Alfred Brumwell Thomas, who won a public competition with his classical Renaissance design.

Funding for the new building was raised from the profits of Belfast Gasworks for which Belfast Corporation (now Belfast City Council) had responsibility.

The first stone was laid in 1898 and work was completed eight years later.

In total, Belfast City Hall cost less than £500,000 to build.