Explore the ‘Glamour and Gloom’ of Belfast’s 1930s architecture with free online tour

A new online tour entitled ‘Glamour and Gloom’, celebrates the wealth of Belfast’s 1930s and Art Deco architecture.

By Helen McGurk
Friday, 12th February 2021, 11:55 am
Updated Friday, 12th February 2021, 12:33 pm
The Strand Cinema on the Holywood Road recently celebrated it's 85th birthday
The Strand Cinema on the Holywood Road recently celebrated it's 85th birthday

The free tour from Ulster Architectural Heritage, (UAH), supported by Belfast City Council, highlights selected Art Deco gems of Belfast; both well-known landmarks, such as the Strand Cinema on Holywood Road and Floral Hall, and lesser-known buildings including houses, schools, cinemas, and more.

It also includes some of those which have since been demolished and those which are derelict and/or earmarked for demolition.

The exhibition celebrates the varied architectural styles, social and technological advancements of the 1930s, and the value and breadth of architectural heritage remaining in Belfast from this era. UAH said it also serves as a “wake-up call” to the potential for loss of these buildings if they are not well enough valued or protected.

The Floral Hall has a long and illustrious history as a place of entertainment and romance

The title of the tour refers to the glamour of the 1930s, and gloom of these years that were also marked by political and social crisis. Gloom also refers to the ways in which, whilst landmark buildings of that period are still here to be celebrated, some have been neglected and are under threat today.

It is hoped the tour will reinvigorate interest in Belfast’s 1930s architecture, and inspire better understanding of this architectural era in Belfast. Nikki McVeigh, chief executive of Ulster Architectural Heritage said: “The 1930s saw a wave of architectural and social innovations, and it is fantastic to have the opportunity to promote the quality and variety of 1930s architecture which still exists in Belfast.”

An exhibition supporting the tour is also expected to be launched in 2021 following the easing of COVID 19 restrictions, after which it will travel around libraries in the Belfast area. .

The tour is available through the Ulster Architectural Heritage Website, www.ulsterarchitecturalheritage.org.uk.

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