The Crown is cleared to reopen

Belfast's Crown Bar on Victoria Street
Belfast's Crown Bar on Victoria Street

A historic pub owned by the National Trust has been given the go-ahead to resume trading after its licence to sell alcohol was renewed, according to an industry trade body.

The permit for the Crown Bar on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street was discovered to have lapsed, and the famous watering hole closed its doors last week.

A legal hearing scheduled for tomorrow was brought forward to yesterday.

Colin Neill, chief executive of the Pubs of Ulster representative group, said: “This has no doubt been a difficult week for one of our most iconic pubs but we are glad to see that common sense has prevailed and the licence to sell alcohol has been granted.

“We hope the other pubs that have closed this week as a result of licensing issues will be given the same treatment and are dealt with as swiftly as possible.”

Two other bars in Northern Ireland closed over licensing issues in the past week.

Although the bar is owned by the National Trust, it has long been leased out to a private firm, and the trust said: “All statutory obligations, including the renewal of licenses, rest with the tenant.”

Since 2006, English corporation Mitchells and Butlers has run it.

The company told the News Letter last week that the closure was down to “an administrative oversight”, but added that the closure had occurred at their quietest time of year.

The bar is one of the best-known pubs in Northern Ireland, and is distinguished by its period gas lighting, church-style stained glass windows, cosy wooden snugs and mosaics of tiles.

It was once a Victorian gin palace and dates back to the early days of the railways and industrialisation in the early 1800s.