Kelly's Cellars to retain listed status as 19 new Belfast buildings are added
Kelly's Cellars is to retain its listed status, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has confirmed.
The pub, at 30-32 Bank Street, was built in 1720 by merchant Hugh Kelly who kept it as a bonded warehouse selling rum, gin and whiskey.
One of the city's oldest drinking establishments, it is renowned as a meeting place for Henry Joy McCracken and the United Irishmen when they were planning the 1798 Rising, with McCracken reported to have hidden behind the bar when British soldiers came for him.
A campaign was launched after the building was put up to be de-listed.
The decision was welcomed by Nikki McVeigh of the Ulster Agricultural Heritage Society (UAHS).
"After the UAHS brought forward the case against delisting Kelly’s, it was actively supported by the owner of Kelly’s and over 2000 signatories of an independent online petition. This petition was organised independently by a member of the public, Meghan Finlay.
"The case for Kelly’s demonstrated, that Belfast and its people, and the owners of historic buildings value them, their listed status and the protection this affords."
Earlier this year, the Department of Environment announced it was considering de-listing the building sparking concern.
However, on Tuesday, SDLP minister Mr Durkan said the building, despite alterations over the years, was still of a significant historical interest to retain its status.
The minister has withheld making a decision on listing buildings owned by the Belfast Health Trust to asses what impact that would have on the trust's budget.
Also retaining listed status is the portico of the Ulster Bank building on Donegall Square East,
Mr Durkan said: "After careful consideration of all the available information I have decided to retain listing for a number of buildings, including Kelly’s Cellars.
"Despite the fact that Kelly’s Cellars has been altered over the years I have concluded it is still of significant historic interest. Sufficient historic material survives to reflect this."
He added: "There were proposals for listing of a number of buildings owned by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. I am conscious of pressures on our Health and Social Care budget at this time and am therefore planning to meet with representatives of the Trust to find out what the possible impact of listing might be on their future development plans.”
Nineteen buildings in the city have been granted listed status.
They include the Belfast Telegraph offices on Royal Avenue, the Northern Ireland War Memorial building on Waring Street, the Belfast Synagogue, which influenced modern synagogues across the UK and the Shankill Mission Hall, a working man’s club on Danube Street - the first working man’s club in Ulster.
Mr Durkan continued: “The listing of these buildings is a welcome boost for this city. It recognises the rich and important cultural, historical and architectural tapestry of Belfast’s buildings.
"Some of the buildings now listed are familiar architectural gems in Belfast’s skyline. Others are much less prominent in our streetscape, but are very important because of their historical significance."
Six structures have lost the status.
They include Imperial House on Donegal Square East which was rebuilt in 2002 following serious problems with its previous tiled facade, two buildings that have been totally rebuilt on Royal Avenue as well as the building housing fashion retailer New Look which was subject to a facade retention scheme in the early 2000s.
All of these buildings lie within the conservation area of the city and their external form will continue to be protected.
The new buildings added bring the number in the city with listed status to 1,124.
Mark H Durkan concluded: “Our built heritage remains a precious and a finite resource. It is important that we work together to ensure that it is valued and enjoyed into the future and that its potential to contribute to our economic and social wellbeing and regeneration is fully realised.”