This building was constructed by Young & McKenzie between 1897 and 1902 as purpose built office units and retail outliets and retains that function today.[1] It was built on the site of former linen warehouses and the Donegall Hotel.[2]

It is a fine example of late Victorian Baroque revival architecture. It features Giffnock sandstoke, rusticated granite pilasters, octagonal towers with fish scale roof and detail panels that portray the major industries of Belfast at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign; shipbuilding, linen, printing, ropemaking.[3] Above it is a pediment depicting a variation of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, made from bronze, with the motto of the Order Of The Thistle, “Nemo Me Impune Lacesset” (No-one provokes me with impunity) which was first used on the coins of James I of England who granted Belfast its charter in 1613. It has been criticked for being ‘heavy in mass an detail’.[4]

In January 1914, a Mr Thomas Wardrop, a well-known architect and surveyor, died when he threw himself from the fourth floor. Wardrop had entered the buildings and immediately went to the fourth floor, removing his overcoat and folding it neatly. He then jumped to his death. Notes to his wife and to the coroner were found on his body in which he blamed his lack of money and work prospects as his reason for taking his life. He was originally from England and had served in Hong Kong working for the War Office as a draughtsman. In his suicide letter to the coroner Wardrop stated that it was because he had lost his job with the government that had caused his distress and he asked that someone should help his poor wife and four children. At the inquest a fund was set up to help the family and the hard work and reticence of Wardrop was spoken of in the coroners court.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Belfast? We pass this site on my Buildings & Bricks Tour!

[1] Accessed 25.6.22.

[2] BB, p.170.

[3] Marcus Patton, Central Belfast, An Historical Gazetteer (Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society), p.121.

[4] BB, p.170.