In 2020, 870,000 pounds was allocated by the Department For Communities for a project to revamp some of the entries in Belfast city centre (BelTel | News Letter).
The reason for the project was that the entries were not particularly welcoming places or popular thoroughfares, while the area around them (the Cathedral Quarter) was being turned into a destination for tourists and nightlife.
The Belfast entries date back to the early history of the city. An “entry” in Belfast is an alley with (typically) buildings over the entrances and exits. Here, for example, is a picture from Pottinger’s Entry, approaching the Ann Street end (Street View 2017).
As can be seen in this image, the overarching buildings at each end make the entrances and exits quite dark places, even on a sunny day. (But also an unobtrusive place for buskers.) Once entered, the alley itself continues to be narrow and high-sided, and so not fully lit and isolated from the activity of the city centre. The entries are thus somewhat foreboding. Given that in addition not many businesses had fronts along the entries, they were perceived as cut-throughs to be used by those with a good knowledge of the city rather than as destinations.
There have been previous efforts to improve the entries. At the top of the image above banners from a previous campaign to make the entries more enticing can be seen. An earlier campaign took place in 2003 in response to shopkeeper concerns with “cleanliness … refuse collection and fly poster[s]” (Belfast Telegraph).
Four paintings by Michael O’Neill were added in 2008 to Warehouse Lane with the redevelopment of the Four Corners buildings (BBC) (at the junction of Waring Street and Donegall Street) depicting scenes from the history of the United Irishmen: Henry Joy McCracken goes to the gallows; Russell, Bunting, and Mary Ann McCracken; Russell with the first edition of the Northern Star (see Light And Heat, below); Wolfe Tone and the Muddlers.
The existing entries are six in number; this Belfast Media article includes the names of some older entries that no longer exist. The six are Winecellar Entry, Sugarhouse Entry, Crown Entry, Wilson’s Court (formerly Wilson’s Entry), Joy’s Entry, and Pottinger’s Entry (short profiles at Frances Kane). As can be seen in the map below, all six of the entries are connected to High Street.
To these the 2020 project added Cole’s Alley (or at least, the Church Lane end of it) and Castle Arcade (formerly Castle Market). (An “arcade” is an entry for the explicit purpose of shopping, often covered along its entire length. Unfortunately for Castle Arcade, BHS closed down in 2016 and the shop windows along it are all empty. The BHS building is being renovated in 2022–2023.)
Sugarhouse Entry was not included in the project as it is currently not passable; it was closed in 1972 as part of the “ring of steel” securing Belfast city centre (DC Tours) and serves only as a back alley to various businesses between Waring Street and High Street; there was talk in 2022 of reopening it as part of some new development (Irish News).
In order to make the entries more attractive, the 2020 project not only allocated funds for general repairs, but also for lighting and artwork. The artwork is featured below (listed by the name of the entry in alphabetical order), but in some images the improvements made in lighting are visible.
First Wave (2020)
Castle Arcade: Under The Cherry Blossoms by Friz (2021)
Castle Arcade: This Must Be The Place by Holly Pereira (2020)
Cole’s Alley: Redshank & Prey by Annatomix (2020)
Crown Entry: Salmon by DanLeo (2020)
Crown Entry: At The Mouth by ADW (2020)
Joy’s Entry: Peripheral Palisading by James Earley (2020)
Pottinger’s Entry: Spirit Of Commerce by Irony (2020)
Pottinger’s Entry: Pelican by Nomad Clan (2020)
Wilson’s Court: Light And Heat by Rob Hilken (2020)
Winecellar Entry: Ffallen by emic (2020) (yes, there are two “F”s)
Crown Entry: Belle Martin by Peter Strain (2020)
Joy’s Entry, Crown Entry: Belfast Puzzle by Ruth Crothers (2020)
Joy’s Entry: Mary Ann McCracken by Peter Strain
Joy’s Entry: R A Wilson’s Labyrinthine Sale by ?Leo Boyd?
Pottinger’s Entry: Arthur O’Neill by Peter Strain
Wilson’s Court: Robert A. Wilson/Barney Maglone by Peter Strain
Wilson’s Court: The Farset Voice & The Open Mouth by Leo Boyd (2020)
Wilson’s Court: Louis MacNeice ‘City Built On Mud’ Quote by Peter Strain
Cocky Bender by Peter Strain – Winecellar Entry
A City Within Your City by ?Leo Boyd?
Quill & Ink
Second Wave (2022)
College Street Mews: Belfast Industry by Ed Hicks
Faces by KVLR – Exchange Place
?Hello Hello – Exchange Place?
Joy’s Entry: Olaudah Equiano by Dreph
Patterson’s Place: Belfast Deco Fish by Andy Council
Exchange Place: Trust Women by Peter Strain (2022) (See also I Was Sick And Visited Me X11550)
Thomas Russell “Lump Of Sugar” Quote by Peter Strain (2022)
Key to reference numbers. Thanks to the following for the use of their images.
T = Paddy Duffy
X = Extramural Activity
Copyright © 2023 Extramural Activity. Images are copyright of their respective photographers.
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