The Belfast Waterworks were established in the early 1840s by the Belfast Water Commissioners. The site supplied water to the city’s factories and residents. It became redundant after the city got new supplies from the Mourne Mountains in the late Nineteenth century.

In 1897, a public meeting was held to decide the future of the Waterworks and a suggestion was made that the site should be used for water-based leisure activities.

The site’s owners, the Water Board, were initially hesitant, as their operation licence only extended to providing the city with water and they did not want to sell their land to the Belfast Corporation. Following an Act of Parliament in 1889, the Water Board were allowed to use the Waterworks for leisure but limited their expenditure to £500 a year on the site.

Public bathing, rowing boats and diving were allowed and in 1933 model yacht sailing was permitted.

The Belfast Corporation bought the Waterworks in 1956.