Ravings From The Bog

Hidden Belfast: Central Arcade Ross’s Court

The Old Central Arcade BuildingThis old building, which was originally a factory, holds a particular fascination for me as it was the site of the first Crazy Prices store I had full responsibility for as store manager. That was back in 1986. The weekly turnover was £35K. It was a dingy store which never made a penny of net profit in the ten years it was open but came pretty close to do doing so towards the end. 

Anyhow, the building originally housed Ross’s Lemonade factory and had at least four floors. When I worked there, the top two floors were derelict with broken windows and dead pigeons and no doubt, a few other pests. The “shopping centre” known as Central Arcade was the 70s/80s equivalent  of the Hi-Shops in High St, in other words, it was a really awful collection of grotty businesses anchored by a grotty supermarket and a very busy Stewarts Winebarrel.

In later years, the building changed hands and was developed into Ross’s Court, a rather upmarket and ultimately doomed centre due to the unfortunate fact that it was just too far from Royal Avenue to attract the business it needed. Timing is everything and if the centre had been able to hold out, the recent introduction of the Victoria Square complex would have supported and sustained the centre.

Today, the most upmarket and best-looked-after Argos I have ever seen occupies the Victoria Square end of the building. The original stonework still shows the name of the original owners, W.A Ross & Sons – a nice touch!

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[…] always been proud of my colleagues for. I’ve worked in Dunmurry, Springhill, Belfast (Central Arcade), Newtownards Rd, Donegall Rd, Carrickfergus, Glengormley, Ballymena, Craigavon, Newcastle, […]

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I remember those 80’s shopping centres! Awful oul places lol! Poundstretcher started in the original victoria shopping centre I think.

Comment by Ethel Bouton

Hi Paul,
Thanks for your comment. There is some erroneous information in the archiseek article, by the way. The building didn’t lie empty from the ’70s until it was revamped and developed into Ross’s Court. The ground and first floors were in use until the Ross’s Court development took place. I managed the Crazy Prices store in the small Central Arcade shopping centre there and we had the run of the first floor as our storage area. There was also a Stewarts Winebarrel and a number of other, mostly independent, businesses including some fast food outlets. There were two entrances/exits while I was there.

Comment by Colin

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