Conservation in action at Crown Bar
Conservator, Crown Bar, Northern Ireland
Visitors can enjoy a drink whilst they experience conservation in action as conservator Claire Magill restores high-Victorian gin house, Crown Bar.
Belfast’s Crown Bar is a fine example of a high-Victorian gin palace. It welcomes hundreds of thousands of overseas guests each year and is a favourite night spot for locals, so it’s no wonder that this bar had seen some wear and tear over the years.
It’s been in Trust care since 1978 and is leased to Mitchells & Butlers, who run and manage it. Before the autumn restoration project, the famous snugs had become dull, and pollutants from traffic had smeared the external tiles in dust. The ceiling was covered in sooty grey halos – carbon deposits from the original gas lighting – and the heat had damaged the famous papier-mâché ceiling.
It’s an unusual example of conservation in action, as we didn’t need to close the pub, so daytime visitors were able to enjoy their drinks while they watched the experts at work. Many of the local specialists who we used also worked on the recent restoration project at Mount Stewart.