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My Final Visit to Great Victoria Street

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Patrick Davey

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3 hours ago, Patrick Davey said:

Great Victoria Street station in Belfast is closing tomorrow for good (actually it's really just being relocated slightly and expanded a bit...) so I paid one final nostalgic visit today and also took a hop over to the brand new York Street station.

 

 

They REALLY need to do something about that graffiti. Very high voltage live fences come to mind, though take second place to snipers. Same with Connolly station area.

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Posted (edited)
Tomorrow, Great Victoria Street Station in Belfast closes - for the second time. Opened by the Ulster Railway Company in 1839, to connect Belfast with Lisburn, Portadown, Armagh, Monaghan and Cavan, it thrived as the rail link between the two largest cities in Ireland. Despite the vehement anti-rail policy of the 1950s and 1960s Stormont governments in Belfast, decades of under-investment, and finally bombs during the "Troubles", it struggled on to 1976, when it was closed, the track lifted as shown here later that year, and the site given over to a shopping mall and hotel. It was replaced by "Central" Station; which was very far from being central to anything other than a long-abandoned cattle siding complex at Maysfields in East Belfast. Our political lords and masters aren't always quick off the ball; it took them until 1995 to work out that a city centre site was, after all, better; so a dumbed-down version of Great Victoria Street was reinstated, though the longer-distance Dublin expresses still served Central but not here.
 
Lately, they've devised a new station, to be called "Belfast Grand Central Station". It is to the right of this picture, and the old (new!) Gt Vic St station will be demolished instead. It is LESS central than Gt Vic St; but more central - not that this would be difficult - than "Central Station" - which has now been renamed "Lanyon Place".
 
Confused?
 
Well, at least the "Enterprise" expresses from Dublin will return to here, to a site somewhat closer to the city centre. The new station will also have all (I think) the longer-distance buses, and I suppose taxis too. I can overlook the external appearance of the new station which is akin to a 1965-built cardboard or cigarette factory.
 
This was taken by Snr. just after the original Gt Vic St was being dismantled in 1976. While an impressive array of traditional semaphore signalling remains, track has gone. Below, an earlier picture in the very run-down nearby Adelaide yard about 1962, under the UTA's depressing watch.
 
(H C A Beaumont)
 

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Edited by jhb171achill
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Posted (edited)

Pity I’ll miss this - stuck here as I am beside the GWR main line ….Fabulous pics JHB. Apparently I was on the last steam ECS into GVS with 171  in 1975 but aged 4 I don’t recall it! . So sad that we can’t have a final steam departure from under the Boyne Bridge with 171, 85 or 131. But at long last Belfast is getting a station that will hopefully be a worthy successor to the termini of old. I still think the Victorians missed a trick in not building a US-style Union station though!

 

Edited by Galteemore
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Those are two amazing views JB - the GVS one is very poignant, full of amazing detail - the signals, the telephone box, the huge signal cabin and water tower both still there, the Erinmore factory on the far left, so much to ponder!

The Adelaide one is fantastic too - the grimy UG, the GN ballast wagons, the polychromatic brick buildings, the UTA open wagons, and the sweep of Black Mountain down towards West Belfast - I can just about make out the spire of St. Teresa's church on the extreme right, which still stands tall and proud today, my son went into the school next door this very morning.

Thanks for these JB.

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14 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

They REALLY need to do something about that graffiti. Very high voltage live fences come to mind, though take second place to snipers. ...

I'm sure there are retired 'RA gunmen out there who may be at a loose end and who might be glad of some practice to keep their hand in....

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16 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

They REALLY need to do something about that graffiti. Very high voltage live fences come to mind, though take second place to snipers. Same with Connolly station area.

Graffiti is a strange 'culture'. I know of a distributor road in a city on the Big Island, built in the 1970s with acres of concrete 'canvas' easily available on bridges, embankments, etc., and not a single spot of paint anywhere, in a city which is not 'unadorned' in general.

I only noticed this situation about a decade ago, but there is just nothing sprayed anywhere along the ten miles, and it is not due to any obstructed access.

I suspect that, if some ever does appear, there would be a rapid avalanche of other 'work' by 'competing artists'.

I am careful about who I mention this absence to, but nobody else has ever agreed that they had already noticed - you just don't spot what's not there, I suppose.

I did once spot a small paint mark at the base of a bridge parapet, but it turned out to be a road maintenance mark. I considered suggesting to the council that they might be careful, so as to not set off "tag wars".

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1 hour ago, Broithe said:

Graffiti is a strange 'culture'. I know of a distributor road in a city on the Big Island, built in the 1970s with acres of concrete 'canvas' easily available on bridges, embankments, etc., and not a single spot of paint anywhere, in a city which is not 'unadorned' in general.

I only noticed this situation about a decade ago, but there is just nothing sprayed anywhere along the ten miles, and it is not due to any obstructed access.

I suspect that, if some ever does appear, there would be a rapid avalanche of other 'work' by 'competing artists'.

I am careful about who I mention this absence to, but nobody else has ever agreed that they had already noticed - you just don't spot what's not there, I suppose.

I did once spot a small paint mark at the base of a bridge parapet, but it turned out to be a road maintenance mark. I considered suggesting to the council that they might be careful, so as to not set off "tag wars".

I must say it’s a pet hate of mine, to put it mildly; if I was to describe the measures I would apply to perpetrators, I’d be chucked off every online platform I am on with immediate effect!

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 I had no intention of doing this today but I watched Patrick's video yesterday and well... here I was on the 0955 ex-Bangor.

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Bit of a party atmosphere at Great Victoria Street with tourists, film crews and the Translink choir singing "Ticket to Ride"!

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Marvellous video Patrick. It will be looked at by future generations of rail enthusiasts. With the new station NIR are putting Dublin to shame.  I only hope that when people experience the new Grand Central Station they will ask why the government in the south aren't carrying out similar upgrades. Always the optimist!

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Re the multiple comments on graffiti, I think the cultural context of most tags are taken into the general category of “gang culture” and not seen as they are, characterful marks made on the world that the person who made them interacts with in their own way. I don’t believe that the graffiti taggers are in the wrong, per se, but they’re also not in the right either as they’re defacing public property and often graffiti can be used in the context of gang culture, as everyone seems to believe, although it should be noted that, again, it’s not all to do with shootings and drugs, etc. obviously Belfast has had a troubled (no pun intended as that would be rather disrespectful) political history and the few times I’ve been there, I have observed some sectarian graffiti, but most of what I saw dated from about the 90s or earlier from what I could tell. Another thing to note is graffiti as part of political activism, such as incredibly skilled and brave gangs graffitiing Moscow Metro trains with political slogans and artwork, or graffiti artists, those who create beautiful murals in public spaces, without permission but still to great effect. In all, it’s a controversial matter with a LOT of grey areas, but I may start a thread somewhere else dealing with it.

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14 hours ago, LNERW1 said:

Re the multiple comments on graffiti, I think the cultural context of most tags are taken into the general category of “gang culture” and not seen as they are, characterful marks made on the world that the person who made them interacts with in their own way. I don’t believe that the graffiti taggers are in the wrong, per se, but they’re also not in the right either as they’re defacing public property and often graffiti can be used in the context of gang culture, as everyone seems to believe, although it should be noted that, again, it’s not all to do with shootings and drugs, etc. obviously Belfast has had a troubled (no pun intended as that would be rather disrespectful) political history and the few times I’ve been there, I have observed some sectarian graffiti, but most of what I saw dated from about the 90s or earlier from what I could tell. Another thing to note is graffiti as part of political activism, such as incredibly skilled and brave gangs graffitiing Moscow Metro trains with political slogans and artwork, or graffiti artists, those who create beautiful murals in public spaces, without permission but still to great effect. In all, it’s a controversial matter with a LOT of grey areas, but I may start a thread somewhere else dealing with it.

I hear ya, but I’m afraid I’m still with the snipers! 😉😉

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On 10/5/2024 at 11:56 AM, Broithe said:

Graffiti is a strange 'culture'. I know of a distributor road in a city on the Big Island, built in the 1970s with acres of concrete 'canvas' easily available on bridges, embankments, etc., and not a single spot of paint anywhere, in a city which is not 'unadorned' in general.

I only noticed this situation about a decade ago, but there is just nothing sprayed anywhere along the ten miles, and it is not due to any obstructed access.

I suspect that, if some ever does appear, there would be a rapid avalanche of other 'work' by 'competing artists'.

I am careful about who I mention this absence to, but nobody else has ever agreed that they had already noticed - you just don't spot what's not there, I suppose.

I did once spot a small paint mark at the base of a bridge parapet, but it turned out to be a road maintenance mark. I considered suggesting to the council that they might be careful, so as to not set off "tag wars".

I have to say I’m not completely opposed to graffiti (as long as it’s on a plain wall and not the side of a train…) as it can brighten up otherwise plain walls but I also concede that regularly that walls that they ‘brighten’ up are walls that the owner doesn’t want ‘brightened’ up and then has to pay to have it cleaned.

I do think however that an excellent way to stop potentially vulgar or unslightly graffiti-ing on large wall spaces where it’s not wanted is for the local council to commission artists to paint murals on those walls. A Waterford native myself, the Waterford Walls project has led to many many murals like these popping up (legally) on otherwise bland walls and has really brightened up the city and can actually act as a way for the graffiti-ists to do something constructive with their spray-paints!! 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/5/2024 at 2:24 PM, Louth said:

Marvellous video Patrick. It will be looked at by future generations of rail enthusiasts. With the new station NIR are putting Dublin to shame.  I only hope that when people experience the new Grand Central Station they will ask why the government in the south aren't carrying out similar upgrades. Always the optimist!

To be fair, major work is being, or has been, undertaken in several important city termini - Galway, Limerick and Cork in particular, and more suburban stations are planned in Limerick and Cork areas.

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