Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

the blackman tech

100 years of education in Belfast

Central Hall Mural designed by William Drummond This mural was designed by William Drummond in the College’s Design team. Features from the 10 windows from the Central Hall in College Square East were captured in this wonderful design. Boardroom mural This mural was designed by William Drummond. The mural features key architectural features of the building, the logo, crest and the first Principal. This is displayed in the Boardroom Titianic Quarter. We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery for funding this display. Boardroom mural Belfast Met Principal and Chief Executive Marie Therese McGivern with Mark Glover far right (Heritage Lottery Fund Committee Member) and Mary Coffey Belfast Met’s Heritage Lottery Project Manger.

Lottery Heritage Work


The Heritage Lottery funded a college project which allowed the capture our history in anticipation of the closure of the iconic College Square East building formally known colloquially as the 'Black Man Tech'.


The name - 'The Blackman Tech'

The official name of the college was the Municipal Technical College however it was also known as 'The Tech' and the 'Black Man Tech'. It is often incorrectly perceived that the title ‘Black Man’ comes from the statue of Dr Cooke which currently stands outside the building. However, interestingly, the name 'Black Man' dates back further than Dr Cooke (leader of Belfast's Evangelical Presbyterians). The original statue on the site and the first public statue in Belfast, was erected in 1855 to commemorate Fredrick Richard, Earl of Belfast (his courtesy title as heir to the 3rd Marquis of Donegall). The statue was dark bronze and some say that it was later painted black due to weathering making it look rather mottled. Soon it was known as ‘THE BLACK MAN’ and became one of Belfast's best loved rendezvous spots and noted landmarks in the City. Twenty years later the statue was removed and replaced by that of Dr Henry Cooke. It was taken to the Town Hall Victoria Street and in 1906 removed to the City Hall where it still stands inside the building. It is very common to acquire an affectionate name and in Belfast the 'Black Man' would have been perceived as a place, not a person, where people met and not after the ‘green statue’ of Dr Cooke.

The Heritage Lottery project known as ‘Ambitious Belfast’ captured the untold story of how a confident city placed education at the heart of its economic future by building a colossus for learning. This colossus became a listed building in 2005 and still exudes the confidence of a former era when Belfast was a centre of industry. Massive frontages, domes, towers and sculpture characterise its exterior whilst inside the Central hall has superb stained glass windows which paid homage to the industrial revolution, the sciences, arts and crafts.

The firm of architects, Samuel Stevenson, which designed the building, still practice in the city today. We would like to extend our gratitude to the Heritage Lottery for funding this project to keep our history alive and shared with others. We are also grateful to all those who shared their memories of College Square East and to the project team members including our partners Northern Visions who allowed us to capture in audio and video format, imagery and stories from the building and the staff and students who came through its doors. Internally our Web Design Team were instrumental in recreating images from our past into postcards and other imagery, displays throughout our new Titanic Quarter Campus and for designing this website in conjunction with web design student Laura Mawhinney. Our chief adviser throughout the project was historian and former college lecturer Henry Bell. Henry’s knowledge and support has been invaluable and greatly appreciated by the College


Heritage artefacts have been displayed at a number of key college events such as the official opening of the Titanic Quarter by Princes Anne, the visit of President Michael D Higgins, visit by the Lord Mayor of Belfast and the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the World Police and Fire Games 2013. Additionally, the college hosted a cultural heritage celebration where the film about the college’s history ‘Artisans and Dreamers’ was premiered and some of the colleges’ artefacts were displayed.