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Belfast police station to become a listed building

By Rebecca Black

Published 13/10/2016

Donegall Pass police station
Donegall Pass police station

One of the busiest police stations of the Troubles looks set to be listed due to its historical and architectural importance, it can be revealed.

In recent years the former Donegall Pass police station complex has emerged from behind a formidable set of security grilles that surrounded it throughout the Troubles.

The heavily fortified station was attacked several times, and on January 22, 1976 two police officers were killed inside the building when a booby trap bomb concealed in an abandoned shotgun exploded.

Inspector George Bell (54), from Lisburn, and Detective Constable Neville Cummings (37), from Belfast, died in the incident.

The station continued to operate until 2012, and the building is now up for sale. The oldest section of the complex located at 18 Donegall Pass has been proposed for category B2 historical listing.

It is comprised of an early 20th century brick faced reinforced concrete framed building which extends over three storeys with a former attic level and basement.

The building was originally purpose built for the Girls' Friendly Society - the oldest Church of Ireland organisation established for girls and women.

It provided accommodation for girls and women who had moved to Belfast from the surrounding countryside for work.

At that time other GFS lodges existed in Armagh, Londonderry and Rostrevor, although none of these were purpose built.

The building was constructed around 1906 to the designs of Birmingham-born architect William Roome using the patented 'Hennebique' structural system of reinforced concrete columns, beams and floor slabs.

Roome was responsible for introducing the new building method to Ireland with the construction of the Somerset Linen Factory at Marcus Ward Street in Belfast, built in 1904-05.

During the years 1897-1908 only six buildings were constructed in Northern Ireland in this style, making this a rare type.

The building was remodelled for use as a police station during the latter half of the 20th century.

It has been reported that the interior has been greatly altered since the conversion, although the original staircases and terrazzo style flooring remain.

The report prepared for the Planning Committee concluded: "The building is of social and historical significance with its association with the GFS and of architectural interest in relation to the technically significant innovative structural system concealed behind the brick facade, typical of its time."

PSNI Superintendent Muir Clark told the Belfast Telegraph that the building is in the process of being sold.

"The Northern Ireland Policing Board gave approval for the disposal of Donegall Pass Police Station in 2012," he said. "The building is still owned by the PSNI and we are in the process of selling it. We are aware of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency's Listing Assessment which is currently ongoing."

The station is one of several currently on the market. The former Ballynafeigh Police Station on the Ormeau Road - which comes with a garage area and 40 parking spaces - is also for sale with offers thought to be in the region of £900,000.

Meanwhile a former police station in Donaghadee recently sold for £80,000 at auction.

In 2011, the PSNI revealed plans to close more than 30 of their 84 police stations following a review of their estate.

Belfast Telegraph

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