Great Expectations: streetscape enhancement scheme on lower Great Victoria Street
Hope Street car park
15 canvasses depicting artworks featuring architectural heritage within the Linen Quarter were installed on the fencing around the prominent surface car park on the corner of Great Victoria Street and Hope Street in order to add some visual interest to the perimeter of this large vacant site. The canvasses also include the ‘Great Expectations’ branding to announce the wider streetscape enhancement scheme.
We have ‘Great Expectations’ that Great Victoria Street will become a renewed and revived part of the district and the city, and we hope our streetscape enhancements help in make the area more attractive to inward investment.
86-88 Great Victoria Street
Vinyls featuring artworks were placed on top of the shop windows at 86-88 Great Victoria Street. The shopfront improvement works include boarding up of shop windows and entrance and painting of window and door frames.
Marking the start of the lower Great Victoria Street from the City Centre, these two prominent premises have laid vacant for a significant amount of time, leading to substantial neglect.
During the month of August, 58 bollards stretching between the Bruce Street junction and the Ventry Street junction were repainted in the LQ BID colours. The combination of vibrant colours and a striking design sequence was chosen to help add visual interest to this part of the Street.
During November an additional 10 bollards in front of the Hope Fellowship Church were also painted. These bollards feature a more pared-back design in LQ BID colours but in line with the original design.
Fanum House vinyls
In June 2023 vinyls featuring stylistic artworks referencing prominent buildings within the Linen Quarter were placed on all seven ground floor window openings of Fanum House (108-110 Great Victoria Street); references include some Linen Quarter institutions such as the Grand Opera House, Crown Liquor Saloon, Ulster Bank building, Thomas Thompson fountain, Ormeau Baths, Ulster Hall and St Malachy’s Church.
Upcoming developments were also included, such as the Belfast Grand Central Station which is due to be completed in 2024, to represent the investment and opportunity coming to the area.
During September the ground floor frontages were completely restored and spruced up with brand new white vinyl surrounds, resulting in a cleaner look.
Linen Quarter BID extended to include Great Victoria Street in February 2023. Below is a short synopsis of the tactical regeneration work we have completed since then, and our 'Great Expectations' for the area.
Thanks to our funders in Belfast City Council and Department for Communities who committed one off capital funding as part of last years budgets, which together with LQ BID's own investment, has made these works possible.
In March 2023, in preparation for our streetscape enhancement works on the lower Great Victoria Street, the BID commissioned a thorough deep clean. Representing a considerable investment of time and resource, the deep cleanse included weeding & litter removal, power-washing & graffiti removal. Tackling decades of neglect the cleansing works also included a full pressure wash around the former Shaftesbury hospital building.
A second deep cleanse was conducted along the street during June. This work also included the painting of various shutters in front of derelict retail units in addition to street cleansing, graffiti removal and weed removal.
Former Shaftesbury Hospital
The old Shaftesbury Hospital is a two storey hospital building originally designed by W. J. Barre (who also designed Albert Clock & Ulster Hall) for Lady Johnson, in memory of her father Mr Thomas Hughes. The hospital opened on 1st January 1868 and The Belfast Ophthalmic Institution operated here until relocating to the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1946.
Following WWII the hospital was run by the NI Hospitals Authority until it closed down in 2010. The building was B1 listed in March 1988.
In May 2023 the front elevation of the former Shaftesbury Hospital building at 116 Great Victoria Street was cleansed, removing years of dust and soot accumulation and restoring the original colours of the Victorian brickwork. In June, vinyls featuring Victorian sash window designs were placed on the window openings of the listed building at 116 Great Victoria Street, while a similar intervention was completed on the 118-120 Great Victoria Street elevation in November, resulting in a much improved look for the building complex.
The building now acts as a window into what Great Victoria Street looked like, and could look like again.
122 – 126 Great Victoria Street
A large scale vinyl featuring a stylistic artwork referencing the Belfast Grand Central Station / Weaver’s Cross development was placed on top of the construction hoarding at 122-126 Great Victoria Street.
The Victorian terraces behind the hoarding have been in a derelict state since they partially burned down in 2016. The site is currently awaiting redevelopment into a residences.
Hope Fellowship Church mural – 113 Great Victoria Street
This large mural was partially installed on the southern gable wall of the Hope Fellowship Church at the end of October and is one of the largest murals in Belfast. Based on the theme of ‘diversity and inclusivity’ it aims the celebrate Great Victoria Street as a place where historically people from different walks of life would be able to mingle. The site of the Church itself used to house Belfast’s first synagogue.
The birds depicted on the mural will include the godwit, a dunlin along with an artic tern and a lapwing. The latter is semi native and the unofficial national bird for Ireland, while the others bird are all migratory in nature and represent the diversity of the Church congregation. They’re all waders/sea birds too, representing the geography of this part of the city before it became built up (all lands between Sandy Row and the river Lagan were marshlands along the lower course of the river Blackstaff – now culverted underneath Bankmore St). Finally, all birds represented are either red or amber for their conservation status, raising awareness of the fragility of local wildlife.
The mural will be installed in various stages, with completion due for later this year.
121 – 127 Great Victoria Street murals
In October, murals were installed on the four front elevations of these Victorian-era terraces, with another mural appearing on the gable wall on Stroud Street. The five different murals all intend to celebrate the theme of ‘Belfast punk scene’ as one of the terraces (nr 121) used to house the famous Good Vibrations record store during the 1980s and early 1990s. Terri Hooley – the founder of the Good Vibrations store – acted as a catalyst for the emergence of a distinctive Belfast punk scene and has been honoured with a mural on the gable wall on Stroud Street.
The works were enabled by a Belfast City Council Cluster Grant scheme that involved local businesses, with the BID co-funding the project.
More interventions including murals, planting, vinyls and shopfront improvements – taking in various sites along lower Great Victoria Street – will take place between October and December. Updates will be published throughout the remainder of the ‘Great Expectations’ programme to showcase progress. The best way to keep informed is to sign up to our newsletter.
The ‘Great Expectations’ Project is funded by Department for Communities and supported by Belfast City Council.