Stormont moves to protect famous Belfast street signs
Cherryvalley Park Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton
April 21 2021 04:39 PM
A series of street signs have been listed in a bid to protect Northern Ireland’s civic heritage.
The Department for Communities selected nine free-standing tiled signs, of the type produced by the Belfast Corporation during the early to mid-1900s, for the scheme.
All the signs are found at junctions between Knock and Sydenham in east Belfast.
Signs on Summerhill Parade, Eastleigh Drive, Knockland Park, Kensington Road, Belmont Church Road, Carolhill Gardens, Clonlee Drive, Cherryvalley Park and Beersbridge Road were selected in March.
The department said: “These street signs are rapidly disappearing, so designation identifies that they are of special architectural or historic interest and affords them a level of protection and consideration in the planning system to help ensure they are protected for future generations.”
Belfast historian and tour guide Jason Burke welcomed the move.
“Visually, (the signs) are an important part of Belfast’s memory landscape,”he said.
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“As areas are redeveloped and people come and go, one thing that cannot be altered is the history of such areas.
“These signs deserve our protection as literal signposts to that past.”
Nigel Henderson, a researcher with History Hub Ulster, added: “I think it is a good thing because they are part of the heritage of the city and are more aesthetically pleasing compared to the modern street signs.
“This would especially be the case where street names have been simplified. For example, St. Leonard’s Street is now St. Leonards Street.”
The Department for Communities in the past listed other street signs of a similar provenance that form part of the city’s legacy of cast iron street furniture, including parliamentary boundary posts, post boxes and telephone kiosks.
Almost any structure can be listed, including buildings, fountains and phone boxes.
When considering structures for listing, the department’s historic buildings branch will assess the architectural and historic interest against specific criteria.
The department said many signs had been lost over the decades because of redevelopment and general wear and tear.
“The utilitarian yet attractive design, composed of small tiles with elongated sans serif lettering on a black background, has become something of a style symbol for the city in recent years,” a spokesperson added.
“Those signs that have survived are now accepted as an important part of the civic heritage.
“The recent listings exhibit the variety of these signs in various states of repair and with various post designs.
“As they have been refurbished, repositioned and reused over their lifetime, post and ancillary appendages vary greatly.
“Most retain their decorative cast-iron fluted column and matching finial, but some have been rebuilt with plain wrought iron or concrete posts.
“The Beersbridge Road example has the number five stencilled just below the sign, a reference to the postal district in which it sits.”
The Department for Communities have confirmed that the freestanding tiled street signs at Cherryvalley Park, Kensington Road and Knock Road have now been listed.
Thanks to Councillor John Hussey for his work in managing the process.
The street signs at Cherryvalley Gardens cannot be protected as they are fixed to properties.
So, we have made a start!
It may be worth considering a request for the replacement of signs back to this old tiled type in keeping with the RACKS area. Cherryvalley Park is one example with one end of the street now listed and the other with new plastic signs and there are others on Knock Road and Shandon Park.