Patrons turn to National Trust in a bid to save pub

Petitioners in Belfast are calling on the National Trust to buy Ireland's famed Rotterdam Bar, after announcements the musical shrine will be torn down to make way for apartment buildings. Although the pub is known for hosting the likes of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, it has also played a part in historic events, including acting as the post office for the crew of the Titanic.

According to petitioner Stephen Thompson, the pub doors closed on 7 May sparking the creation of a Save the Rotterdam website, where visitors can sign a petition or e-mail the apartment developers directly with their complaints.

Thompson says patrons wrote to the National Trust, which owns and preserves the Crown Bar in Belfast, after contractors didn’t take their case seriously. “Their attitude is ‘what are you making such a big deal about? It’s only a dirty bar’,” said Thompson.

However, the National Trust told Third Sector that it turns down the majority of the hundreds of propositions it receives every year. “We are a charity so we have to be very selective in what we acquire,” said the charity’s head of media Julian Lloyd, who added that the trust hasn’t yet received the letter. “In general, there is this expectation that the National Trust can come in and acquire anything we want.”

The Rotterdam bar started as a hold for prisoners being deported to Australia in 1797, and according to Thompson, it was also used as a post office for the crew of the Titanic.

Musicians such as Bob Dylan, Brian Kennedy, Van Morrison and Ian Dury have all played the Rotterdam, but Thompson said his real motivation to save the Maritime-themed bar was that it helped Belfast through hard times. “At a time when bars were either divided into protestant or catholic, (the Rotterdam) was a place to go for live music.”

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