Belfast City Hall is one of Belfast’s most famous buildings but a certain City Hall in South Africa looks strangely similar! The City Hall in Durban, South Africa was designed by Standley G. Hudson and built in 1910. He took much inspiration from Belfast City Hall, so much so that if it were built today, there may have been a few copyright claims!
Belfast City Hall, was once the home of the White Linen Hall, an important international Linen Exchange. The Street that runs from the back door of Belfast City Hall through the middle of Linen Quarter is Linen Hall Street.Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria. This was in recognition of Belfast’s rapid expansion and thriving linen, rope-making, shipbuilding and engineering industries. During this period Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the most populous city on the island of Ireland.
Construction began in 1898 under the supervision of architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas and was completed in 1906 at a cost of £369,000. Belfast Corporation (now the council) used their profits from the gas industry to pay for the construction of Belfast City Hall. Local firms H&J Martin and WH Stephens were among the companies involved in construction. James G. Gamble, architect, was the clerk of works.
The city hall in Durban, South Africa is almost an exact replica of Belfast’s City Hall. It was built in 1910 and designed by Stanley G. Hudson, who was inspired by the Belfast design.
The Durban City Hall was built in the early 1900s due to the rapid growth of Durban. City centre changes resulted in the original town hall taking on a new mantle as the Durban post office. The city fathers commissioned a new town hall in 1903, choosing what they termed a ‘bold and progressive’ design submitted by architect Stanley Hudson. Hudson set about creating a replica of the Belfast City Hall in Ireland, which served as his inspiration.
His legacy is a stone-coloured structure adorned with sculptures portraying the arts, commerce, music, literature and industry, while the main pediment sculptures are representative of unity, patriotism and Great Britain.