Appearance of the statue, people’s opinions of the same and acclaim for the work and design.
As already mentioned before the clock tower has been a major tourist attraction for a very long time now, however the fact also remains that the clock tower did have to have parts removed to prevent it from leaning any more to the side. The statue of Albert still looks up to Castle street. The reason that street is called castle street is because of a fortress that stands at the end of this street. This fortress was built by the Chichester family of the Earls of Donegall. The fortress however no longer stands.
The clock tower did suffer some unfortunate damage as will be discussed later. Due to this damage it had to undergo some restoration work and the sandpaper had to be shaved off as well to take away a few burn marks. The very fact that the people of Belfast went through all the trouble of making sure that it is in pristine condition itself makes the importance of this monument in Ireland all the more obvious.
As for now, the monument stands tall and proud and as beautiful it can be. Except for the tiny glitch of it leaning a four feet to the side there is nothing else that is wrong with it. The clocks four faces have been built in a way that they can be seen from all places in downtown Belfast. All of these characteristics have led to it being considered as one of Belfasts most amazing buildings. It has also been listed as one of Barres most conscious Belfast buildings. Even in Belfast, it is one of the most conspicuous structures as it is very difficult to miss.
Prostitution at the clock tower in the past
It is a fact that the clock tower is now a very prominent and beautiful structure in Belfast. This however does not take away the fact that the clock tower was also used as a center for prostitution in the past. It is located extremely close to the dock. Due to this it was frequented in those days by many sailors. These sailors were clients for the prostitutes in Belfast. Hence, the prostitutes would stand around the Clock Square Plying their trade. Hence in those times it was a rather unsafe and seedy area in the town especially for women.
Another thing that this area was known for was being the meeting place for the Gay men of Belfast. The clock tower was an ample time for homosexuals to meet especially afterhours where they would not be seen. There have also been books written about the same. This goes a long way to show that homosexuality is something that has existed from time immemorial.
One such book that deals with the subject is The Black Diaries by Jefferey Dudgeon. The book maps the history of Belfasts homosexual population and their activities as well as giving many details about their way of life in those days. The clock tower makes a prominent appearance in many of those stories. The book not only deals with gay men it deals with lesbian women as well. It also has many stories of their interactions with prostitutes and some stories which are actually very touching.
Shooting of the movie near the clock tower
The clock tower being a characteristic and scenic location has also for the same reason been used to shoot movies. Although in most movies it is only present in one or two scenes, it was potrayed very clearly in the 1947 movie the Odd man Out although they never really mentioned that it was the Belfast clock tower, it is very clear from the towers appearance that it is indeed the same clock tower.
The Odd Man Out is an Anglo Irish film directed by Carol Reed starring James Mason. It is based on a novel that is titled with the same name. It is supposedly based in a town in northern Ireland that in the novel is not explicitly named but in the movie is very clearly Belfast because of the clock tower. The movie was said to have been shot in the perfect location because its theme matched so beautifully with the appearance of the town.
The pot of the movie was not exactly the fight between the government and an illegal organization but about the peoples unrest when they are unwittingly involved in it. It starts off with James Mason being told to rob a mill to obtain funds and with a character and her sick grandmother coming in somewhere in between. The clocktower was seen to be a special meeting place as part of the movie. The movie received a lot of critical reception and the tower gained a lot of popularity as a result with people wanting to go and visit it so that they could see the clock in the movie.
Damage suffered by the Clock tower and the subsequent repair and restoration
As already mentioned the clock tower has gone through damage which has required it to undergo restoration processes as well. In August 1969 there was a confrontation between rioters and the police with the former throwing stones and rocks at the latter. This was called the Battle of the Bogside. It consisted of a three day intensive march led by the Apprentice Boys of Derry. This was basically a war against the Protestants in Belfast. The goal of the march was to intimidate the Protestants. It led to the Ireland Riots in the August of 1969.
The battle of Bogside was said to have been quite ruthless. It is also considered to have been propaganda against the Catholics living in the Belfast area. The residents of Bogside called themselves the Derry Citizens defence Association and they were pit against the Royal Ulster Constubulary. The rioting started with a parade by the Loyalist Apprentice Boys. When this parade started the RUC attempted to disperse all of them by using Gas.
The rioters took this as a sign of aggression and hence started to get aggressive themselves. They picked up sticks and stones and started creating a major issue. It was the first known battle in the set of conflicts that are famously known as the troubles. It lasted for three whole days in which time about 7 people were brutally killed.
As for the Troubles it was considered to be an ethno political phase in Northern Ireland which at times spilled into parts of England and the Republic of Ireland as well. The Troubles started with this battle but is said to have continued and not really stopped till the final agreement that was signed in 1998. The agreement, referred to as the Belfast Good Friday Agreement was entered into in 1998 but the problems have said to have continued even after that.
The problems that were faced during the Troubles were mostly due to the disputes between the Catholics and the Protestants. They were unable to agree on anything. Hence this led to political rivalry as well. This changed into a problem between the people and the government when they passed the Civil Liberties special Powers act in Northern Ireland. This gave almost absolute power to the government and took away much of the peoples powers. This obviously made the people of Ireland very unhappy hence causing them to revolt.
The continued violence against the Catholics proved that during the 1920s Northern Ireland was an inherently corrupt state. The republic of Ireland Prime Minister Charles Haughey described Ireland as a failed political entity. However by the 1960s Ireland had settled down and become a decent place. However after the Brief Northern campaign and the Border campaign northern Ireand became stable. Its stable period is said to have started from the 1960s.
It was during the Troubles that the Albert Clock tower suffered damages. The damages were not so major as to destroy anything of vital importance to the clocks general appearance or to the clocks usage. A few explosions made it lose some of its ornamental carvings. These were either made again or they were fixed to look like no damage had ever really occurred to the clock. Another sort of damage that the clock suffered was that of bullet marks.
Some parts of the monument had many bullet marks hence marring the beauty of the structure. This was however fixed by shaving off the sandstone and then leveling the surface that looked scarred. The structure had also started to look rather old and worn down by then which is why the reconstruction process was then started.
The restoration project was finally completed on 29th May 2002. It was given a budget of about 2.2 million Euros so that the monument could be put back to its former glory. 1.2 million came from the Belfast city council and the other one million from the Heritage Hill lottery. It was stated by the chancellor in the press report that the restoration of this famous monument went a long way in showing peoples dedication towards Belfast.
It was also said that the restoration of this monument was of such vital importance because it was a historical figure and such a historical figure would go a long way in ensuring that the history of Belfast always remains rather than get lost with the annals of time. Once the restoration project was completed it was noted that the monument looked better than ever before. The work done was so thorough that even the parts that appeared to have worn out with time seemed to have been re done and hence they looked even better than before.
A certain magazine also remarked that the portions that had been lost during the riots may have actually been for the best as they resulted in the monument looking better than they ever thought it could look.