Wednesday, December 01, 2010

"With so much gone forever, do we not have an ever-more pressing duty to preserve the legacy of older generations?"


(Pic above: High Street, Belfast, late 1800s.) Here's an excerpt from Gail Walker's article in today's Belfast Telegraph (full article here)

"...buildings which should fill us with pride are turning into eyesores. The neo-classical Upper Crescent exhibits serious signs of wear and tear. Garfield Street, off Royal Avenue, once must have been rather beautiful but now looks like something from a cheap zombie flick. Crumlin Road Courthouse — despite big talk of redevelopment and tourism — looks on its last legs. The heart and soul of Belfast has been blown out by the bombers and so “redeveloped” by the developers that you feel you're in the middle of nowhere in particular.

The Grand Central Hotel has been replaced by CastleCourt, which already looks rather weary after a few years. Smithfield is a hollow joke of former glories. North Street Arcade and its muses have been subsumed into Cathedral Quarter. North Street ... well, let's not even go there? No seriously, let's not go there, unless you're a fan of windswept spaces and boarded up shops. Cornmarket, once the imaginative heart of Belfast, is now little better than a waiting room for Victoria Square.

With so much gone forever, do we not have an ever-more pressing duty to preserve the legacy of older generations? I mean the actual bricks, the craftsmanship of our forefathers — their dreams, hopes and aspirations — not just call some area scheduled for demolition a “quarter”. But no. All that's someone else's problem — the Government's, the council's, the private sector's. Nothing to do with us, mate. We're too busy sipping lattes, watching Manchester United in HD in pubs and wondering which shopping centre has the best Christmas parking..."

The article above was a response to this recent "dirty dozen" list issued by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, the worst of 500 important buildings being neglected across Northern Ireland (UAHS website here).


Detail below from the above pic - I wonder what The Scotch House sold? According to some entries here from 1858/1859 it seems to have been a clothes shop. This website lists some "penny tokens" which were issued by the shop, with a decorative design combining shamrocks and thistles. This article gives a full list of all of the shops along the street in the early 1800s.