History project to tell story of Belfast’s near-invisible river

The Albert Clock. The River Farset flows beneath the area (and is depicted below before it was built over)
The Albert Clock. The River Farset flows beneath the area (and is depicted below before it was built over)

Almost £100,000 has been provided to promote a largely-forgotten part of Belfast’s old landscape.

The River Farset used to be a key feature of the city centre, and the cash is going to be used for a cross-community history project explaining the significance it once held.

The River Farset as it was in 1762

The River Farset as it was in 1762

The Farset gave the city its name and although it still exists, it is virtually invisible.

It has been extensively built over and hidden by culverts, although it remains visible in small handful of spots including the Townsend Street Enterprise Park and near the Shankill Cemetery.

Its final stretch takes it underneath the area around the Albert Clock, before it enters the River Lagan close to the weir.

A statement announcing the move said the money – £98,500 – has been granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund to let the Culturlann (on the Falls Road) and the Spectrum Centre (on the Shankill) “redevelop land around an exposed part of the river and also produce a full heritage package – including an exhibition, Farset app, public information signs, and tours with trained guides”.

The River Farset (frozen) in 1317

The River Farset (frozen) in 1317

The object, it adds, is to “highlight the heritage to local people and also attract tourism”.

It is expected that around 3,000 people per year will make a visit to the new Farset facilities.

Paul Mullan, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund NI, said: “This is a fascinating project as it will work with communities to reveal the heritage that is literally running under our feet.

“It will be telling a story that is central to the development of Belfast but which has largely been forgotten.”

Since 1994 the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £192 million to over 1,000 projects across Northern Ireland.