History of the Linen Quarter

Central Business District Timeline

The first post chaise to operate between Belfast and Dublin begins service. It leaves Dublin every Monday and Belfast every Thursday, taking three days in winter and two in summer to complete the journey. The route passes through the old Dublin Road and Sandy Row.

The first cotton mill in Ireland opens just outside Belfast.

The new Dublin Road is opened. Great Victoria Street opens 14 years later.

The Belfast Gasworks is established by the Lagan river. It will help fuel the remarkable growth that puts Belfast at the centre of the Victorian industrial revolution.

The Mulholland family rebuild their cotton mill in York Street as a linen mill. It heralds the dawn of Belfast’s world leading mechanised linen industry. Other entrepreneurs take note of their increasing success.

Plans for the Ulster Railway are announced.

A section of railway from Belfast to Lisburn opens for passenger traffic. The Ulster Railway Tavern opens in Great Victoria Street around this time. Under another name it is now Belfast’s most famous pub.

One of the most beautiful churches in Belfast, St Malachys, is opened in Alfred Street.

The Belfast Railway Terminus is opened in Great Victoria Street.

The linen boom is well underway. By 1856 the York Street Mill is claimed to be the biggest mill of its kind in the world. The major linen companies are establishing offices and warehouses in the area now known as the Linen Quarter.

The Ulster Hall is opened as a grand ballroom in Bedford Street. It is one of the largest music halls in the British Isles. Its magnificent organ is donated by the Mulholland family.

Charles Dickens reads ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and ‘David Copperfield’ at two separate readings at the Ulster Hall.

Michael Flanagan and son renovate the Ulster Railway Tavern with the help of skilled Italian craftsmen. They name it the Crown Liquor Saloon.

The Ormeau Baths opens. A public baths, it serves a population for whom plumbing is a distant dream. Today this beautiful building hosts the Tech Hub, which is helping drive Belfast’s nascent high tech industry.

John Dunlop invents the pneumatic tyre in his workshop at 38-42 May Street, on the fringes of the Linen Quarter. Cycling becomes more enjoyable and more popular. His invention will have major benefits for motor travel too.

Belfast, now the world’s greatest linen producer, is awarded city status by Queen Victoria. Its pre-eminence in linen manufacture is one reason for the award.

The Grand Opera House, designed by Frank Matcham, opens in Great Victoria Street. Like the Ulster Hall it will host many of the great names of entertainment, including Laurel and Hardy and Luciano Pavarotti, who makes his UK debut here.

The BBC opens its first studio in Linenhall Street. The great actor manager Tyrone Guthrie makes the first broadcast here on September 15th.

Belfast Corporation (Belfast City Council) introduces buses, initially to supplement the tram service, but gradually replacing them.

The last tram service in Belfast is closed.

Belfast’s famous trolleybuses come to an end.

Led Zeppelin debuts one of the most famous songs in rock history, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, at the Ulster Hall.

Translink takes over the running of public transport in Belfast.

1995The second Great Victoria Street Station opens, just yards from the site of its predecessor.

The £50 million Grand Central Hotel, Belfast’s biggest ever hotel, is opened on Bedford Street by Hastings Hotels.

The £100 million Belfast Transport Hub is scheduled to open. It will have eight platforms, twice as many as Great Victoria Street. The Enterprise Belfast to Dublin service will terminate here.