The Custom House is an imposing two storey Victorian building designed by the architect Charles Lanyon and built in the Italian style. The existence of such a building was made possible and necessary as Belfast became one of the greatest industrial and trading centres of the Victorian era.
Completed in 1857, the Custom House stands on the site of the old Ballast Office. The building originally housed the Custom Service, as well as the General Post Office, Inland Revenue, the Stamp Offices and Government Emigration Departments.
It is worth circling the Custom House to take in all of its splendour, notably the lofty pediment to the front, with Britannia, Mercury and Neptune gazing out over Belfast harbour, carved by the acclaimed stonemason, Thomas Fitzpatrick.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries the steps of the Custom House were Belfast's Speaker's Corner, where great orators of the day would harangue and berate the crowds gathered to enjoy the open space of the square. One such speaker, Jim Larkin, a dock labour organiser, regularly addressed crowds of up to 20,000. Today 'The Speaker', a life size bronze statue standing on
It is also interesting to note that the leading English writer, Anthony Trollope (1815 - 1882), worked for the General Post Office in the Custom House for several years. As well as being a novelist, Trollope was also the inventor of the pillar-box.
Custom House Square, the open area in front of the Custom House, was previously vehicle dominated, but it has now been transformed to provide a public space where people can meet, socialise and be entertained.
Erected by the City of Belfast.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Buildings. A significant historical year for this entry is 1857.
Location. 54° 36.103′ N, 5° 55.386′ W. Marker is in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20 Donegall Quay, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT1 3AS, United Kingdom. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Anthony Trollope (a few steps from this marker); Calder Fountain (within shouting distance of this marker); Custom House Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Donegall Quay (about 90 meters away, measured in a direct line); James Holmes (about 90 meters away); The Quays (about 120 meters away); Albert Clock (about 120 meters away); High Street (about 180 meters away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Belfast.
Also see . . .
Credits. This page was last revised on June 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 13, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 111 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 13, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.