Belfast since the 1800’s

Belfast’s Role in the Industrial Revolution

In the 1800’s

As we were given a new project to create a floating city based on Belfast, research into its history is a must. After reading on Belfast’s past I was reminded of how the industrial revolution had made a major impact on the town, thus awarding it city status by Queen Victoria in 1888.

tabaoImage Courtesy – BelfastLive

“The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840.” – wikipedia

I found it interesting to discover from my teammate Erin that a river runs beneath the city streets. I looked more into this and discovered that the Farset River primarily runs beneath High Street. It was the river that ships had once docked and today in its place, the Albert Clock stands.

q4Image Courtesy – KatieBrownDesigns

Linen production, tobacco processing, rope making, engineering and also ship building (one of the largest in the world at the time) – all helped with Belfast’s industrial and economic growth. As Belfast was once the world’s largest linen-producing areas it was nicknamed linenopolis. The heavy industrial company Harland and Wolff specialised in shipbuilding and offshore construction. They brought a lot of economic growth to the city and are famous for having built ships such as RMS Titanic, RMS Olympic, RMS Britannic, the Royal Navy’s HMS Belfast and P&O’s Canberra etc… Their ship building cranes are still situated at Queen’s Island, Belfast. These famous cranes are called Samson and Goliath and are still the biggest free-standing cranes anywhere in the world. Thus being classified as official historical monuments.

hw.jpgImage Courtesy – keywordsuggest

When looking at the industrial success Belfast had gained due to the revolution, how have things changed/developed since then? It is obvious that due to the civil unrest of the troubles in the 1960’s; Belfast’s success declined dramatically. More than 100,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since the 70’s. (Old postcard of the shipping docks, below)

q6Image Courtesy –

Since the port was a major part of Belfast’s growth, I will look into other areas which can come into play in relation to the port, whether it be now or in the future. I came across a great PDF document which was written in 2016 and details plans for the growth of the harbour; it is named the ‘Port Master Plan: 20-30 Year Period’. Link for download included here. There are some interesting factors in the document and have opened up more possibilities as to where other statistical research can be done next.

Below is a screenshot of Belfast’s Harbour Annual report which shows the collected statistics of its trade in 2015.

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When thinking of our initial ideas for how to represent certain statistics, we have been thinking of building various tiers of time periods of Belfast. This industrial growth is important to show, whether it be in the 1800’s, 1970’s or 2000’s.

In the 1960’s

The troubles in Belfast had serious impacts on production and growth within the city. The infrastructure was affected as well as the population rate. I have done some research into statistics for this time period as it can’t be over-looked when looking into Belfast’s past.

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As Belfast was in turmoil during this period we have decided to depict this part of the city being much smaller, less vibrant in colour with buildings that are falling apart. Michael will mainly be working on this part of the city. Whilst keeping a minimalistic look we still hope to portray the decaying nature of these times through the modelling/lighting.



Whilst researching into Belfasts past we found a few other interesting facts which were quite interesting. On Great Victoria Street, the cities smallest house can be found, measuring 3 meters wide, it is no longer occupied as it has been demolished to make way for new parking facilities. Belfast also contains 3,000 acres of parks, many of them forested. We are hoping to include a mini forested area in our model to represent this bio-diversity within the city.

Modern Belfast

Belfast has quite a lot of modern architecture so I choose some of the main attractions to model in low poly. Amongst these is the Victoria Square dome, the Boat Building, The Mac, the Titanic Quarter Museum and the City Hospital. Below are some photographs of the buildings I choose to model from the city.

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When thinking of working on the modern part of Belfast we have decided to make it a little more colourful than the lower sections as to show growth and development within the city. Many of these modern buildings are good examples of fantastic artistic achievement and have brought more tourism and culture to Belfast. Height and connections should also be another factor when thinking of design.

References (2017). Statistics of Deaths in the Troubles in Ireland. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017] (2017). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

Culture Northern Ireland. (2017). Industry and Commerce in Belfast. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017]. (2017). Economy of Belfast. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017]. (2017). NISRA – Commerce Energy and Industry Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

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