Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Belfast's Crown Bar regains its licence to thrill regulars and tourists

16/1/2014. PACEMAKER BELFAST. A Crown bar regular tastes his first pint back in the establishment after the recent closure due to an oversight regarding the bars' trading licence renewal. Photo Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker Press
A Crown bar regular tastes his first pint back in the establishment after the recent closure due to an oversight regarding the bars' trading licence renewal. Photo Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker Press

The world famous Crown Bar is back in business after being granted a new liquor licence – much to the relief of its thirsty customers.

In a move that shocked patrons, the Belfast pub was forced to close its doors last Friday after an "administrative oversight" saw its old licence expire.

The licensee Mitchells & Butlers was yesterday granted a licence at Laganside Court to serve alcohol, with The Crown due to reopen from today.

The court heard that in years gone by a "teetotal inspector" would have dealt with a case such as The Crown's.

And there were smiles all-round when it was revealed the police licensing officer handling the matter for the PSNI was a Constable Guinness.

There were no objections to the granting of the new licence for the pub, based at 46 Great Victoria Street, which is a favourite for locals and tourists.

Judge David McFarland told the court on the issue of adequacy he was satisfied The Crown met the statutory test, and on the issue of the pub trading without a licence since September 2012, that the matter was for the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Last night a PSNI spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph it will consult with the PPS to determine if any offences have been committed and that any subsequent prosecution would be a decision for the PPS.

There is no cost involved for Mitchells & Butlers in obtaining the new licence but it does face a substantial bill for legal and other professional fees.

A statement on behalf of The Crown said: "We are absolutely delighted that a new licence has been granted and that The Crown is open for business again.

"We'd like to thank the authorities for their co-operation and the people of Belfast – especially our regular customers – for their overwhelming support during the short closure."

The Grade A listed building is owned by the National Trust in Northern Ireland.

A spokesman said: "The National Trust are pleased to learn that tenant of The Crown Bar has achieved a speedy resolution to the licensing issue and that this historic building will now reopen to the public."

At Laganside court yesterday architect Alistair Pearson told the court that following three inspections of The Crown, he was content it met with all building control regulations and fire safety standards.

Town planning consultant Eamonn Loughrey told the court The Crown was an "exceptionally busy" bar and consistently one of the top four tourist attractions in Belfast, according to the council's tourism monitor.

BACKGROUND

Built around 1895 by Michael Flanaghan on the site of a former Railway Tavern, The Crown Liquor Saloon (right) on Great Victoria Street is one of the most famous pubs in Northern Ireland. In 1978 the National Trust purchased the property and three years later completed a renovation to restore the bar to its original Victorian state.