Building Name

Ulster Reform Club. Belfast

1882 - 1885
4 Royal Avenue
Northern Ireland
Committee of the Ulster Reform Club
New Build
James Henry of Belfast


In 1880, a group of Ulster Liberals determined that the cause of the Liberal Party would be advanced by the formation of a Club in Belfast similar to the Reform Club in Manchester. After a suitable site on Royal Avenue was acquired, a design was sought though competition, the first premium being awarded to Maxwell & Tuke of Manchester. The building contract was let to James Henry of Crumlin Road, Belfast, at an estimated cost of £12,000.

COMPETITIONS - In the competition for the Ulster Reform Club, Belfast, the plans of Messrs Maxwell and Tuke, 29 Princess Street Manchester and Bury have been accepted. The building is to be proceeded with immediately. [British Architect 5 January 1883 Page 6]

ULSTER REFORM CLUB, BELFAST —The contract for this work has been let to Mr James Henry, of Belfast. The cost of the building, including the grates, chimney-pieces, internal plumbing, tiling, bells, hoists, heating, and other fittings, will be under £12,000.  The work will be carried out at once under the superintendence of Messrs Maxwell & Tuke, architects, Manchester. [Builder 12 May 1883 page 656]

NEW CLUB PREMISES, BELFAST. The Committee of the Ulster Reform Club have secured a site for their proposed new building in Royal Avenue, and plans have been prepared for the building. The new club is to occupy a vacant space next to the Provincial Bank, and the frontage of the building will be in the line of the new buildings on the west of the street, so that the south corner of the new club will project between seven and eight yards beyond the line of the bank front, affording a good opportunity for architectural effect, and enabling the members of the club to overlook a large portion of Donegall-place, Castle-place, and Royal Avenue. The entrance to the club is to be at this corner, and will take the form of an open stone porch or lounge, with granite pillars, and a stone balustrade facing east and south. The front door will open into a spacious vestibule, which will communicate with the hall and staircase, 33 ft. by 20 ft. On the principal floor will be provided a dining-room, 40 ft. by 43 ft., with a small minstrels’ gallery or balcony at one end. This room will be 21 ft. high, and well lighted, having, besides other windows, two large bay-windows, commanding a view of the whole of Royal Avenue. The ceiling will be panelled in wood. The fireplace will be deeply embayed in the wall of an alcove, separated from the main body of the room, by enriched pillars. The morning-room will also be approached directly from the main lauding, and will be 34 ft. by 27 ft., well lighted with tall windows to the south, a bay-window to the avenue, and a large bay-window over the porch. A door of communication will enable this room to be used in conjunction with the dining-room on special occasions. In addition to these rooms, there will be on this floor a strangers’ room and two large and well-lighted rooms for private dining or drawing rooms. As the dining and morning rooms are lofty, it has been found possible to interpose a mezzanine floor between a portion of the first and second floors, and the rooms thus gained are a committee room, a library, 26 ft. by 19 ft. 6 in., and a smoke-room, 38 ft. by 19 ft. The only club, rooms in the second floor are the billiard-room 70 ft. by 30 ft., and a card-room. The former occupies the whole of the front of the building, and, besides the light obtained from continuous windows in the roof, has a series of windows facing the Royal Avenue and the south. The service arrangements are very ample and complete. The kitchens occupy the whole of the third floor, and are entirely isolated from the rest of the building, excepting by the service stairs and the various hoists. The chief kitchen is 38 ft. by 19 ft., and besides this there are a spacious scullery and a vegetable kitchen, and ample larder and pantry accommodation. The whole of the ground-floor, with the exception of the hall, staircase, &c., already enumerated, will be available for letting. The material for the fronts is to be red Dumfries stone, with a little granite about the principal doorways. The internal fittings will be chiefly of pitch pine; the ceiling in nearly all the club-room& will be framed in this material, and relieved with white Onega wood, and varnished. The cost of the building is estimated at 12,0002. The chief contract has been taken by Mr. James Henry, of Belfast, who will carry it out under the superintendence of the architects, Messrs. Maxwell and Tuke, of Manchester. [Builder 9 June 1883 page  793]

THE ULSTER REFORM CLUB, BELFAST - This new club-house was opened to the use of the members on New Year’s Day, although the formal opening ceremony will not take place until about Easter. The major part of the ground-floor is intended to be used for business chambers. The entrance to the Club is by the stone porch under the cupola, and thence through a vestibule into the staircase hall. The principal rooms of the Club are on the first floor. The morning-room adjoins the dining-room, and is connected thereto by broad swing doors, and having the advantage of a southern aspect and of the large bow window, commanding fine views of Royal-avenue, High Street, and Donegall Place, it will always be a cheerful and pleasant room. The other rooms on this floor are the strangers’ room and the private dining and drawing rooms. The billiard-room, upon the third floor, is the largest apartment in the building. It has been designed to hold four tables. The roof is of open timber, carried on elaborate iron principals. The walls are covered for some height with a panelled and polished pitch-pine dado; the upper parts of the windows are filled in with coloured glass; and the tables are by Messrs. Burroughes and Watts, of London. Every room has an open fireplace, but, in addition to this, there is an extensive system of hot-water pipes, carried under every window in such a way as to warm the outside fresh air as it is admitted to the building. The heating apparatus has been supplied by Mr. Wagstaffe, of Dukinfield. The kitchens are situated on the topmost floor of the house and have been fitted up by Messrs Elliot Edminson and Olney of Manchester. Messrs Gillow of Lancaster, have provided the furniture throughout, and Messrs Robertson, Ferguson, Ledlie, and Company, of Belfast, the carpets and linoleum. Messrs Patterson carried out the internal plumbing, bell-hanging, etc. Messrs Riddel supplied and fixed the grates and much of the internal ironmongery. The stained glass is by Messrs. Edmundson, the tiling and parquetry floors by Mr Oppenheimer, both of Manchester; and the hoists are by Messrs. Stephens, of Glasgow. The contract for the building and most of the interior finishing has been carried out by Mr. James Henry, of Belfast, from the plans and under the superintendence of the architects, Messrs. Maxwell and Tuke, of Manchester, who have also superintended the furnishing of the club throughout. [Builder 10 January 1885 page 84-85]


The club was scheduled to be opened by Marquis of Huntington on 5 November 1885. [Manchester Guardian 21 October 1885 page 8]

Reference    Builder XLIV Page 27
Reference    British Architect 5 January 1883 Page 6
Reference    British Architect 11 May 1883 Page 238
Reference    Builder 12 May 1883 page 656
Reference    Builder 9 June 1883 page 793
Reference    Builder 10 January 1885 page 84-85
Reference    Manchester Guardian 21 October 1885 page 8
Reference    Hatton, Joseph. Clubland London and Provincial. London: J. S. Vertie, 1890.