The National, bar, nightclub, and café stands in what was once the home of The National Bank Ltd. at 62-68 High Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim. William Batt designed the steel-framed, terracotta and brick building constructed between 1893-1897.
The 5-storey building is one of the oldest still standing in the city, overlooking one of the most historic parts of Belfast.
Daniel O’Connell founded The National Bank Ltd. in 1835. There were branches throughout Ireland and Britain. Bank of Ireland acquired the Irish branches in 1965 while Williams and Glyn’s Bank bought the British.
John Brennan carried out alterations and an extension to the building in 1922. The original builders H&J Martin made further changes in 1939 before the outbreak of World War Two. During the Belfast Blitz, high explosive bombs, parachute mines, and incendiaries fell on High Street. Buildings surrounding The National Bank Ltd. suffered great damage and destruction. The strong steel and concrete frame meant the bank was one of the only buildings still standing after the Luftwaffe attacks.
The exterior of the building in the centre of Belfast remained unchanged until re-cladding of the ground floor in the 1980s. In 2002, Bank of Ireland moved to new premises leaving The National building empty for over a decade.
In September 2013, The National Grande Café Bar opened in the old bank building after a £700,000 refurbishment. In February 2019, owners Beannchor invested another £350,000 into improvements in the building. It serves a great range of craft beers, cocktails, and great food while DJs provide entertainment by night across 3 floors.