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Journal 190



Heritage Transllnk has uncovered historic remnants of Belfast’s first ever railway station complex during demolition works for the Belfast Hub Regeneration Project.

The discovery of original cast iron columns and arches, identical to those used in the Great Northern Railway terminus at Great Victoria Street, was made within large warehouse sheds situated on the main project construction site along the Grosvenor Road in Belfast city centre. These goods sheds were originally used by freight trains from all over Ireland carrying produce such as cattle and stout.

Translink is donating the salvaged components to the heritage Downpatrick and County Down Railway for its own restoration project in which it hopes to recreate a Victorian-style train shed at its Downpatrick station.

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 modem, 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, the Downpatrick & County Down Railway's Vice President, added: "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 trainshed project, which Is a large canopy over the platform and running lines, once a common feature on Irish railway terminus buildings at Downpatrick. To be able to incorporate elements of a genuine Great Northern Railway train shed is an amazing development."

Subject to planning and funding approvals, the construction work at Belfast Hub is due to commence in 2018.

Railway Herald. Issue 501.  4 May 2016

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 190, published June 2016

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Revised: January 18, 2017 .