Young & Mackenzie Papers

Business records and other papers of Young & Mackenzie, Architects, Donegall Square West, Belfast, 1825-1937. Established in 1854, the firm of Young & Mackenzie was originally set up in Belfast by the Rt Hon. Robert Young (1822-1917), who had previously articled with the renowned architect, Charles Lanyon, in partnership with John Mackenzie. They were later joined by Young’s son, Robert, who made a huge personal contribution to the work of the practice by his design of numerous high profile nineteenth century buildings including many Ulster Presbyterian churches, manses and schools; mansions and large warehouses; hospitals for several public authorities and well-known buildings. The Youngs also contributed significantly to contemporary study of various architectural, historical, antiquarian and geological subjects.

The bulk of the archive consists of specifications, bills of quantities, estimates, plans etc., 1854-1937, relating to the firm's design of public buildings, churches, schools, hospitals etc. throughout the Province, but more particularly in Belfast, for example, the Presbyterian War Memorial Hostel, the Malone, Rosemary Street, Crumlin Road, Knock, Old Park and Donegall Road Presbyterian churches, Belfast Royal Academy, Robinson & Cleaver and the Northern Ireland Fever Hospital. Also of much interest are the administrative records of the firm which include: copy out-letter books, 1904-7, and special copy out-letter books, 1897-1920, concerning work for Belfast Poor Law Union and Belfast Rural District Council; business diaries, 1895-1933; cost book, c.1861-c.1871, with details of consultations with clients.

In addition to the mass of architectural records generated by the day to day running of the business, the outside cultural interests of the Young’s are also heavily documented in the papers. There is a minute book of the Belfast Architectural Association, 1872-6, formed in 1872 for the study of architectural subjects and Robert Magill Young's manuscript notes from the Pinkerton Manuscripts together with a collection of copper plates showing views of Belfast, 1670-c.1829, which were used by him in his book 'Historical Notices of Old Belfast and its Vicinity'. Also of note are his personal papers, c.1902-1907, including his sketch book containing drawings of details on buildings in Belfast, c.1904. It should be noted that PRONI also holds as a separate collection (ref. D/2930) of other records of the Young family largely consisting of papers collected in the course of their historical research.

Other themes not strictly pertaining to architecture in the collection include religion, transport and education. There is a diary of the Rev. Robert Magill of 1st Antrim Presbyterian Church, Co. Antrim, 1834; papers of the Belfast and Ballymena Railway Company, 1847; reports of the Belfast and Co. Down Railway Company, 1867 and 1872; a return of schools in Belfast parish for the education of the poor; a return of schools in the Belfast Sunday School Union with details of the number of teachers and scholars in temperance societies etc., 1839; papers of Ladies Collegiate School, Belfast, 1874.


The Young and Mackenzie Papers are particularly strong because of the information which they contain - largely in the form of plans, drawings, specifications etc. - for students researching architecture in Belfast (and to a lesser degree, elsewhere in Ulster) c.1850-c.1930. More specifically, they are of significance because of the wide range of types of buildings which were designed and for which the records have survived. The collection is also worth consulting for a range of topics for the same general period including religion, education, travel and transport, antiquarianism and historiography etc.

Physical characteristics

c. 12,000 items, 1825-1937, comprising a range of documents, volumes, plans, drawings, newspaper cuttings, photographs and glass plate negatives occupying c.50 PRONI boxes.

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI reference D/2194 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.


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Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 25 August 2018