Remains of Belfast's first railway station unearthed
Arches dating from 1840s will be used to recreate Victorian train shed
Cast iron columns and Victorian arches salvaged from Belfast's first railway station have been uncovered during demolition work - and are on track to be used again.
The historic remains were found inside large warehouse sheds on the Grosvenor Road in the city centre and are believed to originally be from the Great Northern Railway terminus at Great Victoria Street.
The goods sheds were originally used by freight trains from all over Ireland, carrying produce such as cattle from Sligo and stout from Dublin.
They are being knocked down to make way for future development.
The salvaged columns and arches will now be donated by Translink to the Downpatrick and Co Down Railway heritage group which will recreate a Victorian-style train shed at their station building.
Translink Infrastructure Executive, Clive Bradberry, said: "This is an exciting historical find as we prepare to embark on construction work for the new Belfast Hub.
"These cast iron columns are one of the last remaining links to the old Great Northern Railway station that was demolished back in 1976, so we are surprised something so tangible from our railway's past still remains in good condition today.
"The Belfast Hub project has the potential to transform public transport in Northern Ireland, create new jobs, attract tourism and investment opportunities, reduce congestion and support the local economy.
"It will be a catalyst for regeneration of the station quarter and act as an important gateway giving a lasting impression of Belfast as a modern, confident and progressive city. It is therefore fitting that we are able to preserve heritage from the railway's former glory days for future generations to enjoy."
Robert Gardiner, vice chairman of Downpatrick & Co Down Railway, paid tribute to Translink and demolition company John Tinnelly and Sons Ltd, saying: "We originally made contact to check whether or not there was anything of historical interest worth salvaging, fully expecting that there would be nothing.
"When we identified and examined these impressive cast iron stanchions and arches we realised they were the same type of castings used in the roof of the original Great Victoria Street railway station built back in the 1840s.
"By coincidence these are exactly the sort of items we need to help construct our planned train shed project in Downpatrick, which is a large canopy over the platform and railway tracks, once a common feature on Irish railway terminus buildings."
Mr Gardiner said it is amazing to be able to incorporate elements of a genuine Great Northern Railway train shed.
"As well as preserving a unique relic from Belfast's first railway station, this will allow these artefacts to be accessible to the public for the first time in years, boosting the tourism offering in Downpatrick and improving our facilities for our visitors by making Downpatrick Station bigger and better," he said.
For further information on The Belfast Hub, visit translink.co.uk/thehub