The Building

Photograph of O’Connell St. c. 1900

On 18th October 2019 the Waterford collections of the art found their new home at 31-32 O’Connell Street.

This building was designed by the Waterford born architect Thomas Jackson (1807 – 1890). Jackson and his parents were both practicing Quakers. Ancestors of the Jackson family were in attendance at the very first Irish Quaker meeting which was held in Lurgan in 1654. Thomas Jackson married Lydia Newsom Ridgeway, another member of the Waterford Quaker community, on New Year’s Day Jackson later contributed to the Quaker movement by designing many of the Friends Meeting Houses in Northern Ireland.

Thomas Jackson was fundamentally a residential architect, but over the course of his career he turned his hand to commercial, educational, industrial and ecclesiastical buildings. An example of his domestic work can be seen at the ambitious Cliftonville
development in Belfast. Jackson was also the principal architect of Ulster Bank, as well as The Banbridge, Lisburn and Belfast Junction Railway.

After time working in both Bristol and Belfast, Jackson returned to Waterford to design a new bank at 31 O’Connell Street. The bank was completed around 1845. Early on in its history, the bank housed the very first Waterford School of Art, which opened on 4 October 1852. This building was also once home to the Permanent TSB (formerly Irish Life and Permanent). The origins of the TSB can be dated back to 1816 when the first Irish Savings Bank was established in Waterford.

Architecturally, the classical style bank building retains many of its original features and is a significant reminder of the prosperity present within the area in the mid-nineteenth century. The building is distinguished by the fine cut-stone detailing throughout, as can be seen at the main entrance, stairs, and fireplace which is located on the first floor. As expected for a former bank building, a large walk-in vault, manufactured by Chubb and Son’s (London), can still be found in one of the rooms located on the ground floor.