Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Free Tours of Belfast Metropolitan College's College Square East Building (Wed 27 - Fri 29 July)

By Gary Potter

To mark the "end of an era", as Belfast Metropolitan College moves out of the Old Technical College located in College Square East, the college has organised tours of the building with local historian Henry V Bell. The free tours run at 12pm tomorrow (Wednesday), Thursday and Friday and will feature the magnificent Central Hall, the buildings many stained glass windows, the fully working steam engine, manufactured by Musgraves of Belfast in the early 20th Century, and much more. No booking is necessary and everyone is welcome.

Last week I went along to one of the tours led by local historian Henry V Bell...

Upon entering the grand Portland Limestone building a member of the college team provided a warm welcome and directed us up the main staircase to the Great Hall. Here the tour began with a presentation by Henry to set the context for the 30+ attendees.

The Great Hall of the College Square East Building.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Henry's enthusiasm and knowledge was fantastic and I suspect know one could mind the over run, as everyone was engrossed by the fascinating stories Henry had to tell. The presentation provided everyone with a great overview of Belfast's history interwoven with the history of the College. Everything from the siting of the College in front of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the appointment of Samuel Stevenson as Architect, the design of the building (see if you guess this one during the presentation!), the history of the Great Hall and its stained glass windows and the academic history of the building. The presentation alone is worth every penny, except this is a free tour! If you are in Belfast at 12pm over the next three days I would highly recommend attending.

Stained Glass window above the main staircase.
Photo by Gary Potter.

The tour itself takes in a selection of the buildings rooms and highlights the original features still intact after nearly 100 years of use. Of course the highlight of the tour for many will be the steam engine located in the basement. All I will say is... it doesn't disappoint. You will have to go along on the tour to see this one for yourself.

A teaser of the steam engine room...
Photo by Gary Potter.

A teaser of the steam engine room.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Tours take place at 12pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Free admission. Enter the main door of the College Square East building and a member of the Belfast Metropolitan College team will welcome you and direct you to the Great Hall.

Preparing for the move to Titanic Quarter.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Think of the footsteps that have been through this
doorway over the years...      Photo by Gary Potter.

Original features are still to be found throughout the building...
Photo by Gary Potter.

Photo by Gary Potter.

Photo by Gary Potter.

Why not make Thursday 28th a double tour day and join PLACE's architecture walking tour of Donegall Square at 6pm? Belfast Past and Present: An Architectural Walking Tour of Donegall Square costs £6 per person and departs from PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast. For more information:

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