Belfast Royal Academy - founded 1785


Our School – From the Archives…

Origins of the Crombie Building

Along with about three hundred other historic buildings in Northern Ireland, the Academy was open to the public on the morning of Saturday 10th September 2016. We were pleased to welcome visitors to the School, about half of whom were seeing the Academy for the first time.

This year was especially significant in that one of the features of Heritage Open Day was an afternoon tour of those buildings in Belfast designed by the firm of Young and Mackenzie.  Among their most notable achievements were Robinson and Cleaver’s, originally Belfast’s grandest department store, and the Scottish Provident Building nearby on Donegall Square West.

Indeed, the Academy’s old building was constructed to designs submitted by Young and MacKenzie, where Robert Young, the founder of the firm, had been a pupil.

The Crombie Building, named after the first principal of the Academy, is a three-storyed  building of Scrabo sandstone, constructed in the Scots-Baronial style which had been introduced to Ulster with the construction of Scrabo Tower near Newtownards in 1857.

The front entrance is at the base of the recently restored central tower, and the Headmaster’s Study is on the first floor, where it is illuminated by a large oriel window. There is a strong resemblance to the central tower of Queen’s University. This is perhaps not surprising since the former Academy boy, Robert Young, served his indentures with, and became the Chief Assistant to, Sir Charles Lanyon, the architect of Queen’s University. The university’s tower is in turn modelled on the Founder’s Tower of Magdalen College, Oxford.

The Academy building was completed in 1880, and cost what was then the not unimpressive sum of £9,951.00.

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