Bank Buildings in Belfast dates back only 118 years to 1900, not 233 years to 1785

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I see that your reports on the now-destroyed Primark building are misleading regarding the history of the building.

The building in question is not 233 years old; it is only 118 years old, having been built anew in 1900, and Sir Robert Taylor’s name seems to have come into the story without any justification.

The building which has just burnt down (designed in 1899 by W.H.Lynn and completed in 1900) should not be confused with either a long-gone predecessor on the site (Cunningham’s Bank, founded in 1787) or with a now-remodelled building standing a few streets away (the now-closed Northern Bank in Waring Street which was originally built as a single-storey market house in 1769, to which Sir Robert Taylor added an upper storey to create the Assembly Rooms in 1776, all then remodelled by Charles Lanyon in 1845, before it was in turn remodelled inside by W.H.Lynn in 1895).

While it is clear that Sir Robert Taylor was involved in what was later to become a ‘bank building’ in Waring Street, I do not know of any record of him being involved in what became known as the ‘Bank Buildings’ in Castle Place.

As for Wikipedia, which appears to have been a source of information for some of the media on this building, I would urge caution and instead recommend the consultation of standard reference books on the subject which are the result of many years of serious academic study and original research and have undergone strict editorial processes before publication.

You will find further information, and illustrations of the buildings I refer to, in, amongst other sources, my own ‘Belfast: An Illustrated Architectural Guide’ published by Friar’s Bush Press in 1987.

I hope this is helpful to you.

Dr Paul Larmour, Architectural Historian & Built Heritage Consultant & former Reader in Architecture at Queen’s University, Belfast