ONE of the features of Lurgan’s newest and most modern lounge and bars was the relaxed, quiet atmosphere, back in 1974.
“The Dolphin,” Mr Ralph Hewitt’s new public house at Robert Street in the Queen Street redevelopment area, could already large crowds every night just a month after opening.
The new building comprised of a public bar, lounge and an off sales department. Both lounge and the public bar were spacious. A long bar and adequate staffing for the many tables in the semi circular seating bays ensured there were no delays. Well over 60 could be accommodated in the comfortable seating, and facilities included hot snacks available from microwave ovens at the bar counter.
The lounge was very much designed with relaxation in mind. Carpeted throughout, it had subdued lighting and no obtrusive background music. An aspect of the seating was the large number of armchairs, and a variety of seating arrangements.
The lounge was finished in shades of brown and green, the decor completed with wall coverings of several textures which added to the warm and comfortable air of the room.
At the lounge counter was a feature of the new building’s decor, with the use of ceramic mosaic tiles. The entrance to the lounge was lined with tiling and insets were shortly to be mounted on the facade of the building and in the floor of the public bar depicting a dolphin motif in tiles.
The premises contrasted with the “New Century” bar they replaced in mid-March. Redevelopment of the area swept away the old bar which dated back to the early 1900s. Mr Hewitt was the proprietor of the Queen Street pub for 19 years, but he had few regrets about leaving for the Dolphin
“The new place is so much roomier, and this the customers appreciate. In the New Century it was up and down stairs and all small rooms, here it is on one level and far more spacious,” he said.
But continuity from the old pub had been retained. The staff had crossed the street to the Dolphin though, with trade being done at a larger scale, it had been complemented. There were four full-time bar men, assisted by eight part-time bar men.
A further asset of the new bar was the unlimited car parking facilities, afforded not only by its own forecourt but by the extensive Robert Street car park it faced.
And in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the lounge, the house rule was no denims. Only proper dress was allowed.
Most of the work, in both design and building, of the new Dolphin, had been carried out by the local firms. The tiles were produced in the area and the overall design of the building was done by the Union Building Company, engineering contractors of Annesborough Estate.
The plumbing and heating contractors were the firm of Jim McConville and Sons, of North Circular Road, while responsible for all glass and glazing work, including mirrors, was expanding local firm of D Finnegan.