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5th November 1888

Belfast receives Charter to become a City

Queen Victoria bestowed a charter on Belfast in 1888, officially recognising it as a city.

At this time Belfast was the leading commercial and manufacturing centre on the island of Ireland and the third largest port. Its industrial might was largely built on linen manufacturing. There were 192 linen manufacturers in Belfast, with 34 bleachers and finishers.

In 1888, Robinson & Cleaver opened their new department store in Donegall Place, Belfast. The building, created in the finest of materials and with a lavish interior, was a symbol of Belfast's increasing prosperity. It was decorated with busts of some of its more famous customers, including the Queen, Prince Albert and the Emperor and Empress of Germany.

Despite its growing wealth, thousands of people in Belfast lived in dire poverty, in overcrowded and unsanitary houses.

Industry, Welfare, Textiles
Robinson and Cleaver's Royal Irish Linen Warehouse by Marcus Ward, Belfast, 1889.
Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum Collection