20, 22, 24, 32, 42, 31, 33 and 37 McMaster Street, Belfast
Some houses had been blocked up for many years
One of the houses improved in 2012
as thatched cottages were despised for many years for their association
with poverty, so their urban equivalent, the "two-up, two-down" terrace
house, has been considered for many years as an indicator of poor
housing conditions, and the march of progress has swept many of these
houses away. A visitor to Belfast as late as 1960 would have found the
"wee palaces" of coloured brickwork, spruce and neatly kept, all over
the city, and carried away that image of tight urban communities which
they represented; now there are very few areas of such housing left.
One street, McMaster Street in East Belfast, has been selected for
preservation as an example of this once common type, and the street was
recently listed and made into a conservation area.
acquired two houses in the street for restoration around 2000. Sadly,
there were no original doors, windows or chimneys left in the street,
know of no proper photographs of the houses before the Housing
Executive's enveloping scheme carried out some fifteen years ago. To
therefore, the restoration was conjectural, but we hoped it would
provide a model for further restorations of the neighbouring houses.
In the course of the work sash windows and panel doors were put in, the
ground floor rooms were again separated, the back bedroom was converted
into a bathroom, the kitchen was extended, and some ornamental
plasterwork was restored. When work was nearly complete an open day was
held for local schools, who use McMaster Street as their local
"historic building" for Victorian history projects. This led a former
occupant of one of the houses to come forward with photographs and
stories of her own upbringing in McMaster Street in the 1950s - not so
very long ago, but things were very different back then.
2010-11 more houses were acquired and a second phase of works carried
out in the street. This time one pair of houses was combined
two-into-one to demontrate how a spacious
house can be created from these small dwellings, and all the houses
were improved to current standards of thermal insulation while
retaining their distinctive character.
We would be extremely interested to
hear of any further memories of the street, and in particular would be
very keen to borrow and copy any early photographs of the houses.
Quantity Surveyor: (2011: R Davis & Co)
Main Contractor: 2000: McNally Contractors (Randalstown) Ltd; (2011: QMAC
Restored: 2000-01; 2011-12
Assisted by loans and grants from: Housing Association Grant and own
Accommodation: One one-bedroom house, five two-bedroom houses and one three-bedroom house
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