When the Markets area of Belfast was laid out in the 1830s, the houses were built in a simple Georgian style using local crimson-coloured brick which has darkened through the effect of soot to a warm brownish-black colour.
In the early 1970s there were still many terraces surviving, albeit some had deteriorated from comfortable merchants’ houses to lodging houses, and many were in need of improvement. When the Housing Executive drew up plans for the redevelopment of the area, this terrace was to be restored, but as time went on and houses were vacated it was badly vandalised, and in 1988 the Executive applied for permission to demolish it – with some justification, as the floor joists, and even roof purlins, had been stolen from them, leaving only a fragile brick shell. When the UAHS objected, the Executive agreed to sell the buildings to Hearth, provided it would take them on right away. At the time, Hearth’s revolving fund did not have sufficient capital to undertake a scheme of such a size, but it considered the terrace of great importance not only in itself but also for its group value. It agreed to take the buildings, but work had to be phased carefully to make the property safe while finance was raised.
The restoration involved virtually complete replacement of timbers, very little having survived the vandals; new staircases, windows with shutters, panelled doors, and moulded cornices, all to the original details, were put into the houses; front doorcases and area railings were reinstated, and new hipped roofs and chimneys put on. The terrace was originally part of a larger block, but neighbouring houses had been demolished as part of the redevelopment of the area, and gable walls had to be reinstated using salvaged brick; other areas of both front and back walls had to be extensively rebuilt where lintels had collapsed. Finally, no.46 was adapted as a shop with flat over, to suit the needs of a local corner shopkeeper in Joy Street who was having to relocate following redevelopment. When the houses were put on the market they were auctioned, with a discount offered to local families. Half the houses went to locals, and, to the delight of all concerned, no.42 was bought by the family which had lived in it from 1902 till they had been moved out by the Executive.
Hearth Historic Buildings Trust
Heritage Repairs Ltd
Andrew Bradley Ltd
Kirk McClure & Morton
McNeil Rainey & Best
Architectural Heritage Fund, NI Housing Executive, Historic Buildings Branch DoE, Urban Development Grant, Northern Bank