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Kitchen Bar - Time Please

Time has been called on one of Belfast's finest bars? Developers are planning a 21st century retail 'village' in Victoria Square and the pub had to go.

The doomed Kitchen Bar

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This morning (Friday 30th July, 2004) the kitchen bar was finally demolished. Despite last minute hopes of possible preservation the developers finally knocked it down in the early hours, with a minimum of fuss. Leave your comments about the loss of the kitchen bar on the Your Place and Mine Messageboard

Here are the latest photographs:

The Kitchen Bar with Digger Just The Digger
 The Kitchen Bar, just last week
 The Kitchen Bar on the morning of 30th July 2004

 

The view from Victoria Square this morning. As diggers remove the last remnants of the Kitchen Bar, the dust is hosed down

 

In July 2000 plans for Victoria Square (central Belfast), submitted by a Dutch-based multi-national development company M.D.C., were selected by the Department of Social Development over 3 rival schemes.
Four years later, after many buts and maybes, appeals and stern public opinion in favour of the survival of the Kitchen Bar, the wrecking ball has finally won.

Rita Harkin from the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society said, "The demise of this 19th century theatre bar is deeply infuriating, given the strength and breadth of opposition.
What does it take to get the message across? Rare gems like the Kitchen Bar should be viewed as assets."

The building work, or rather demolishing work, so far, has left a huge, open expanse of mangled concrete and leaves the area resembling a war scene.

 

Caledon grafiti
 
Caledon grafiti
The site is opened up so much that you can now see the buildings of Victoria Street in the background.   The buildings which faced Chichester Street are sliced apart like the honeycomb chambers of a bee's nest.

 

Caledon grafiti
 
Caledon grafiti
This is the view from what used to be the corner of Victoria Square retail centre and Chichester Street. The Kitchen Bar was on the far left of the site.   You can just make out the roof of the the Waterfront Hall, far right. The Laganside redevelopment is one of the reasons why the Victoria Square scheme got the go-ahead.

 

Caledon grafiti
 
Caledon grafiti
The Kitchen Bar hides behind the heavy plant machinery awaiting its turn.   "have you turned the oven off?" Pat Catney, (on the right) the bar's owner, begins the clear out.

 

The Pub

Once a boarding house for young ladies working in a nearby department store, The Kitchen Bar was opened in 1859. The walls are full of black and white photographs depicting the clientele from the Empire Theatre which once stood next to the bar.

As well as hearty Irish grub like Roast Chicken dinners, Stew and champ, the KBS - Kitchen Bar Special- also known as the ‘Paddy Pizza’ was a firm favourite with lunchtime punters. A huge slab of home made soda farl was covered with tomatoes, onions, thick slices of County Antrim ham and enough cheddar cheese to choke a donkey. 'Quare packin'. If you had a a KBS (also served with an optional side of sausages or an egg on top ) and a pint of stout you'd be well stocked up for the day.

The atmosphere in the bar is one of cigarette smoke, banter and fine ales. The staff are very friendly, but have a razor wit, ready to fire back a stinging retort to any attempt at mockery.

The bar itself
 
Inside the Kitchen Bar
The business end of the The Kitchen Bar . Many a hot whiskey and stew have been ordered here on a cold day.   The rear of the bar, towards the Parlour bar end. Note the theatrical black and white prints on the wall.
 
The future
A £300 million plan to regenerate Belfast City Centre has been launched and the Victoria Square scheme will consist of 500,000sq ft of retail space, 150,000sq ft of leisure facilities, including a health club, cinema and restaurants, and around 100 residential units.

The scheme will create around 3,000 jobs during the construction phase, with another 3,000 created when the scheme opens in Spring 2007.

NIO Minister, John Spellar added his seal of approval :

“My vision for the future of Belfast is for a city that is an attractive and vibrant centre for all its citizens and one that can compete with the best in Europe. This Statement will help to achieve this by providing the momentum to regenerate the City Centre. It will deliver an exciting package of new jobs, new homes, new retail opportunities for investors and local entrepreneurs and an attractive environment for everyone living in the city"

At the time of writing (July '04 ) the Kitchen Bar is to demolished within days and once the new Victoria Square scheme is complete the bar's current owner plans to re-locate nearby.

So, will a new look Kitchen Bar equal 145 years of Irish pub authenticity? Surely the massive injection of facilities in this area is more than able to replace the benefits of a single pub ?

More pictures of the Kitchen

Watch the demolition of Churchill House

Let us know your thoughts, fill in the form below or start a discussion on the YPAM message board.

 

 

 


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