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Sir Charles Lanyon


Architect, engineer and politician
1813 - 1889

Blue plaque of Charles Lanyon

No one has made a greater visible impact on the Northern Ireland scene. He was born in Eastbourne, but in the 1830's moved to Dublin as a civil engineer to the Irish Board Of Works. After a period as County Surveyor in Kildare, he took up the same post in Antrim, where he was engineered the coast road between Larne and Portrush and the Belfast-Ballymena railway line. He was also responsible for the Belfast-Bangor line in Co. Down, and the Queen's and Ormeau bridges in Belfast..

In the city, from the 1840's on, he designed and erected - he had also set up his own architectural firm - a staggering number of buildings: Queen's College (the present Lanyon Building of Queen's University), the Crumlin Road Courthouse and Gaol, the Union Theological College in Botanic Avenue, the Palm House in Botanic Gardens; and - with his partner William Henry Lynn - the Custom House, the Public Library in Royal Avenue and Belfast Castle, among others. His styles ranged from Victorian Gothic (Queen's) to Italian Renaissance (the Custom House).

In the 1860's Lanyon resigned his surveyorship and moved into politics, becoming Mayor of Belfast in 1862 and one of the M.P.s for the borough in1866. He was knighted in 1868. He died in his house, the Abbey, Whiteabbey, in 1889 and was buried in Newtownbreda churchyard.

Location of plaque

14 Wellington Place, where his office was.

Print copy