One of the finest examples of Regency-style planning in Belfast, in the late 1800s Upper and Lower Crescent were home to the city’s professionals who had moved to the South as town centre premises were being turned into retail outlets. Residents were attracted by the elegant three storey dwellings and close proximity to the bustling Queen’s College, which opened its doors in 1849.
Aside from Robert Corry himself, who lived in No. 16 Upper Crescent with his family, the Crescent’s most famous resident was Margaret Byers. A pioneer of women’s education, a philanthropist and a suffragist, Margaret founded one of the first purpose-built schools for girls in Ireland in Lower
1800 Timber and shipping merchants James P Corry & Co is established by Robert Corry
1846 Robert builds the Regency inspired Upper Crescent in South Belfast
Late 1840s As the Great Famine sweeps Belfast, Robert ploughs his garden in Upper Crescent so it can be used for the cultivation of vegetables
1852 Robert Corry builds another terrace to the north of his garden calling it Lower Crescent
1860 The Corry’s commission Harland & Wolff to build their first iron ship, the Jane Porter
1862 The Star of Erin, the first of the 11 Corry’s Irish Stars, is built by Harland & Wolff
1873 Margaret Byers commissions the building of a Ladies Collegiate School (later Victoria College) in Lower Crescent
1874 No. 13 Lower Crescent, now the site of the Crescent Townhouse Hotel, was built as a dance academy for Frederick Brouneau to designs by William Hastings
1877 The Star of France, the last sailing ship built for the Corry’s by Harland & Wolff, was launched
1887 The Corry’s first steamship, the Star of Victoria, is built by Workman, Clark & Co in Belfast
1889 James P Corry & Co Ltd installs refrigeration plants in their two steamships
1903 The Star of Ireland is built with the intention of entering the Argentinean frozen meat trade
1912 The RMS Titanic, built by Harland & Wolff, sinks near Newfoundland
1914 JP Corry’s Star Line, Thos. B. Royden’s Indra Line, Tyser & Co and Wm. Millburn’s Anglo-Australian S.N. Co, incorporated the Commonwealth & Dominion Line which later became Port Line
1950s No. 13 Lower Crescent was converted into a hotel
1981 The Crescent Townhouse Hotel welcomes their first guests
Crescent, now the present day Crescent Arts Theatre. The school became Victoria College and moved to Cranmore Park, where it is still educating students today. Margaret’s son Sir John Byers, his wife Fanny and three children also lived on the Crescent. In fact they lived in what is now the Crescent Townhouse Hotel. Sir John, a physician of Midwifery and Women’s Diseases at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, lived here with his family for a number of years before the property was converted into a dancing school.
Other notable residents include Samuel De La Cherois who lived in No. 9 Lower Crescent in 1858. It is thought this gentleman was related to the De La Cherois family, landlords of Donaghadee. Tobias Porter, manager at John Alexander’s Flour Mill, William Pedlow, District Inspector of National Schools for Belfast South, John Coates, Secretary of the County Antrim Grand Jury and Rev William Patterson, Professor of Mathematics at the Queen’s College.