Crumlin Road Courts, Belfast, Northern Ireland, December 2018

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Regular Member
Jan 6, 2013
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People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
1. The History
The Crumlin Road Courthouse was designed by the architect (and one-time Lord Mayor of Belfast) Charles Lanyon and completed in 1850, at a cost of £16,500. It was built in the Neo-Palladian classical style. The courthouse underwent significant alterations and additions by Young and Mackenzie in 1905
Courthouse back in its heyday:

46854893661_de1ae0a92a_o.jpgCrum Courthouse 2 by HughieDW, on Flickr

It is situated just across the road from the Crumlin Road Gaol and is linked to by an underground passage. Thousands of republicans and loyalists were tried in the courthouse during the Troubles. Among them is Mr Ervine, now P.U.P. leader and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He was convicted in his early 20s, when he was stopped by the security forces in a car containing a bomb. He was released from jail in 1980.

Sinn Fein’s Martin Meehan has had five High Court trials there. In December 1971, he escaped from the jail after spending six and a half hours down a manhole covered in butter to keep out the cold. In the early 1980s, the courthouse was the scene of a number of infamous supergrass trials, many of which collapsed amid concerns about the credibility of the evidence. And in one 1983 case, 22 IRA suspects were jailed for a total of 4,000 years. Other trials, involving some of Northern Ireland's most horrific cases, including the Shankill Butchers' trial

The courthouse closed in June 1998, after 150 years of continual usage. It was sold to local investor Barry Gilligan in September 2003 for £1. His plans for the courthouse included redeveloping it as a tourist attraction and a hotel but these plans never progressed. Planning permission was previously granted in 2004 to convert it into offices, and then in 2007 to a 161-bedroom hotel.

On 12th March 2009, the courthouse suffered significant damage in a fire and a series of further fires in August 2009 caused further massive damage to the structure, prompting questions into the cause and leaving the future of the building in question.

The courthouse is one of Northern Ireland's best-known listed buildings and has been derelict for 17 years and is in a state of serious disrepair. In March 2017, Lawrence Kenwright, from the Signature Living Group, bought the site and announced plans to develop the listed building into a 60-bedroom hotel, and committed himself to spending £25m on the dilapidated courthouse.

2. The Explore
Well – not a ‘real’ explore to be honest. Just a walk round the perimeter. Was gagging to go inside but just wasn’t practice in the middle of the day. If it didn’t have such a fantastic façade I wouldn’t have bothered doing a report.

3. The Pictures

32754754708_1164a8b56f_b.jpgimg0201 by HughieDW, on Flickr

39664148033_e08f85729f_b.jpgimg0195 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46628947851_21180c30fc_b.jpgimg0194 by HughieDW, on Flickr

39664186933_a38ae0c950_b.jpgimg0193 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looks like the scales of justice are long gone!

45904666894_ca6742431a_b.jpgimg0192 by HughieDW, on Flickr

32754819908_07f6c3db41_b.jpgimg0191 by HughieDW, on Flickr

31687837917_dd51076d87_b.jpgimg0189 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45904771524_29fbcbbab4_b.jpgimg0186 by HughieDW, on Flickr

31687961077_ab8dc466ce_b.jpgimg0181 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45904875324_cb21ae6765_b.jpgimg0180 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45714756295_e73a595888_b.jpgimg0179 by HughieDW, on Flickr

39664436713_7d539f1c79_b.jpgimg0177 by HughieDW, on Flickr

39664458233_f381130915_b.jpgimg0176 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46629326351_264850a34d_b.jpgimg0173 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46629349711_fcd88e3cff_b.jpgimg0172 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45714913675_012a5afd11_b.jpgimg0170 by HughieDW, on Flickr

39665695323_8703a38c09_b.jpgimg0203bwleo by HughieDW, on Flickr

And a couple of the tunnels that go under the Crumlin Road linking prison with courthouse. There are now part of the Gaol which is a tourist attraction:

39665685783_49680f8023_b.jpgimg0211 by HughieDW, on Flickr

32756240018_1a4786ecb9_b.jpgimg0212 by HughieDW, on Flickr


Veteran Member
Apr 3, 2008
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Ah the mysterious fires of corruption..
I've seen heaps of stuff up in the North East burn to the ground when planning was being 'sought'..

Being a more mature gentleman here I remember those buildings well. To say they were grim times would be an understatement.
Trying v hard to avoid political arguments but I will say the whole thing stunk to high heaven. Then stir in some random CIA messing and you got what I remember.

It's a stunning old building that and built, no doubt,the way it was to be imposing and place fear into people. It made those carrying out the law appear untouchable, wealthy and to come from a civilised world - we all know how underhand and corrupt that world actually is.. (see - can't help my political feelings!)

For me that's a chalk and cheese building. Sure it's pretty and sure it's important too. But, do we demolish a reminder of those bad times or do we renew it and accept that even the 'good guys' were bad?

Nice report that. I can see the teasing from some of those pics - seeing inside and at damaged roof parts. I bet there are lots of original things left in there..

Hugh Jorgan

Regular Member
Feb 2, 2015
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Aberdeen, Scotland
I too remember some of those cases which were tried here. The building still has nice features. A pity you couldn't get inside but there is another day.


Regular Member
Jun 7, 2014
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Some ;lovely architecture there, I cant believe u didn't sneak in. still worthy of a good report though!

The Wombat

Veteran Member
Mar 16, 2013
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yet again, I'm surprised a place like this is in this state.
What a facade
Thanks for sharing Hughie

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