The foreboding North Belfast edifices of Crumlin Road Gaol and Courthouse stand face-to-face and are connected by an underground tunnel once used to spirit prisoners from the Gaol to the Courthouse for trial - and back if convicted.
The Neo-Palladian Courthouse was opened in 1850 and is topped by a scales-free figure of Justice. Since its official closure in 1998, the building has been used as a makeshift theatre, film location and cinema. It is currently owned by a private developer and there are no plans for its future use. As a result, it is in an appalling state of disrepair having been targeted by arsonists, vandals and break-ins over recent years.
Opened in 1845, the black basalt and red sandstone Crumlin Road Gaol (pronounced jail) was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and inspired by the cutting-edge layout of London's Pentonville Prison. The Gaol's four Wings (A-D) radiate from a centre Circle and rise three storeys, with a fourth basement level. Each small prison cell was built for single occupancy, though many housed up to four cellmates during the 1970s.