Business news

Gilbert-Ash continues labour of love at famous Belfast bar

Posted By:
Gilbert-Ash Limited

4th Mar 2024

One of Belfast’s most iconic pubs is currently undergoing a ‘facelift’ with teams of specialist tradespeople working to ensure the famous Victorian interiors continue to welcome thirsty visitors for years to come.

Award-winning Belfast construction and fit-out company, Gilbert-Ash is the principal contractor on the project at the Crown Bar which is owned by the National Trust.

Gilbert-Ash are carrying out a number of maintenance-style works in the ‘back of house’ area and to parts of the exterior and roof however, the work inside the bar itself is being carried out by specialist sub-contractors.

Gilbert-Ash Fit Out General Manager, Andrew Russell said work of this nature at the Crown Bar takes place every five to seven years.

He said: “With so many people visiting the Crown Bar it can be a bit of an ongoing battle to stay on top of the maintenance so having projects like this are very important.

“The companies working alongside us are extremely skilled with experts in French polishing, tiling and conservation.

“If someone marks one of the tables or perhaps tries to remove an original fitting, it is important the repair work is carried out in a manner which maintains the building’s historic fabric.

“Gilbert-Ash has been working on this building since the early 1990s, so we know it very well. It is perhaps the most famous bar in Belfast and there aren’t too many places which look like it from the inside or indeed the outside.

“We take great pride in the work we do at the Crown Bar, and it is a real team effort when we work alongside these highly skilled specialists.”

Owned by the National Trust and operated by Mitchells & Butlers, the Crown Bar is a Grade A listed building which dates back to the 1880s and was once a Victorian gin palace.

The impressive façade is one of the city’s most popular photo spots, and it only gets better when you step inside.

The long, red granite topped altar style bar takes centre stage, with its huge casks and polished brass taps, while the mosaic tiled floor and decorative carved ceiling are truly eye-catching.

Originally designed to protect Victorian drinkers from the prying eyes of the busy Great Victoria Street, the stained-glass windows are etched with fairies, pineapples, fleur-de-lys, and clowns. The traditional gas lighting also still remains.

Andrew said: “The restoration work that has gone on at the Crown Bar has been exceptional, and rightly so as it is a unique building.

“During a previous project in it I can remember someone cleaning years of cigarette smoke and general dirt off the ceiling using cotton buds so there was no damage to the original plasterwork.

“This is the level of detail that goes into keeping the bar looking its best and it’s work we take great pride in managing.”

Gilbert-Ash has a unique approach to construction, fit-out and refurbishment based on the belief that great buildings come about through hard work, inspired innovation and genuine collaboration.

To find out more about Gilbert-Ash visit