Belfast Custom House
About Custom House
This noble building facing on to Custom House Square was built between 1854-1857 and designed by Charles Lanyon. It’s reputedly one of his finest achievements although this glory is also attributed to WH Lynn who became Lanyon’s partner in 1854. It cost over £30,000 and housed all the Civil Service personnel including Post Office and Inland Revenue staff.
On the steps is this sculpture called ‘The Speaker’ by the artist Gareth Knowles. It calls to mind Hyde Park Corner in London where people would hold lively debates on religion, politics and life in general. The famous union leader Jim Larkin addressed 60,000 people here in 1932.
Anthony Trollope, a famous novelist worked here as a post office surveyor until his departure from Ireland in 1859.
The building was originally constructed from Scottish sandstone and built upon timber piles. It has since undergone serious renovations to shore up the foundations so that it would no longer subside in the soft organic clay. Internally was also completely refurbished.
The side of the building facing out to sea and which was actually the original entrance boasts a magnificent series of sculptures by Thomas Fitzpatrick. They depict figures of Britannia with her trident and royal shield, flanked by a lion and unicorn with Neptune and Mercury on either side. The sculpture was once described as “having the lazy grandeur that characterises Victorian mason’s work at its best.”