The Nineteenth Century
The nineteenth century established the dominant character of Ulster cities such as Londonderry and Belfast. A combination of industry and prosperity ensured a significant amount of new building in styles that reflected the dominant fashions of the era.
These fashions also had an impact throughout the region. The introduction of the railway from mid century, schemes for standard workhouses in every Poor Law Union, the development of banking, and improvement of estates saw new buildings of Victorian taste built across the region.
Taste and fashion were dominant themes. In the early years of the century the classical inspired architecture of the Georgian era still held sway though an interest in the picturesque inspired some landlords to commission romantic castles such as Killymoon near Cookstown.
Regency architecture was a less severe expression of the Georgian style and was typified by projecting bays, overhanging roofs and colonnades. Neoclassical buildings went to the other extreme, by seeking to use details recorded from ruins in Greece to construct archaeologically 'correct' structures.
By mid century however, gothic inspired architecture became more common, first as a decorative application to essentially classical buildings but later in a more academically 'correct' form particularly for churches. Ruskinian Gothic was a fashion for the Gothic Style of Venice which became very popular for railway stations. The Italianate Style was a bright form of Classical architecture with painted plaster exteriors used for many banks and country houses.
The idea that some styles were more suitable for some types of function than others came to dominate. Thus Alm's houses, churches, coastguard stations, and educational institutions were commonly built in a gothic style, whereas banks, courthouses, military barracks and country houses were often classical.
There was much variety however, Larne town Hall built in 1870 for example is a fine essay in gothic whereas Enniskillen town hall of 1899 is a classical building with an Italianate tower.
Ordinary buildings were also influenced by these fashions, terraced and rural houses acquired details derived from these styles. Around many cities and towns merchants houses also developed demonstrating a great variety of influences.
By the end of the century, the Queen Anne Style was popular. This adopted the details of English buildings of her reign (late Seventeenth century) such as brick construction, high gables and tall chimneys. The Nineteenth century revival, however, utilised terracotta to provide much of the decoration of the style.
Bank Place, Belfast.
Roe Valley Hospital (Former Workhouse) Limavady.
Killymoon Castle (John Nash), Cookstown, Co Tyrone
St Eugene's Cathedral, Derry
Larne Town Hall
Enniskillen Town Hall
Queen Anne Style. Verbal Arts Centre, City Walls, Derry