The Crown Bar, Belfast
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The Crown Liquor Saloon, also known as the Crown Bar, is a pub and former Victorian gin palace in Great Victoria Street. It was originally opened by Felix O'Hanlon as The Railway Tavern, and then bought by Michael Flanagan. Flanagan's son Patrick renamed and renovated the pub in 1885. The Crown owes its elaborate tiling, stained glass and woodwork to the Italian craftsmen whom Flanagan persuaded to work on the pub after hours. These craftsmen were brought to Ireland to work on the many new churches being built in Belfast at the time.
In 1978, the National Trust purchased the property and three years later completed a £400,000 renovation to restore the bar to its original Victorian state. Further restoration by the National Trust was completed in 2007 at a cost of £500,000. It is now a Grade A listed building.
The Crown has ten differently-shaped booths, lettered from A to J. Drinking snugs weren’t built for comfort but to accommodate more reserved customers during the austere Victorian period, who preferred to drink quietly and unseen. The snugs feature the original gun metal plates for striking matches and an antique bell system for alerting staff. Extra privacy was then afforded by the pub's etched and stained glass windows.