Belfast Scottish Provident Institution
About Scottish Provident Institution
Apart from the City Hall which is actually quite different in style this building of the Scottish Provident Institution boasts probably the most eloquent façade in Belfast. It was built by Belfast architects Young and Mackenzie during the last decade of Queen Victoria’s reign 1892-1902.
Originally built in sections from Giffnoch sandstone this Corinthian-inspired edifice towers over Donegal Square.
In addition ‘It is faintly reminiscent of the work of Cuthbert Brodrick in Leeds. The central bay is bowed; there are six floors and an attic storey; heavy engaged Corinthian columns run through the third, fourth and fifth floors.’
These panels mid way up are testament to Belfast’s industrial heritage and illustrate spinning wheels from the linen industry, a Gutenberg printing press, rope making and the anchor and hammer of the shipyards.
Other sculptured images depict people from British colonized nations such as an African, Asian and a Native American.
On the corner of the building above the main door at Wellington Place, is this marble work displaying a semi-nude widow fixing her hair while a small boy imitates her and another woman looks on in surprise. It’s thought that the scene was modeled on the seal of the Scottish Provident Institution.
Again, on this side, are more sculptures of heads representing England, India, Canada, Sudan, Ireland and Scotland. All these works of art were carried out by Purdy and Milliard. If that’s not enough, there are also two large sphinxes, four dolphins, sixteen lion heads and seventeen queens.