Belfast or Butler?




When is a Belfast not a Belfast? When it’s a Butler of course!

Just like most industries, kitchens have their own lexicon of terminology that has developed over centuries and can be a little confusing at times. Selecting a sink for a client can catch you out if you are not paying full attention.


The traditional white ceramic Belfast sink is a fine example. The staple of many large country estates, farmhouses and rural cottages, the Belfast is known for its white glazing, thick rounded edges, off-centre plughole and a strange weir overflow at the deep end. You can basically wash anything in a Belfast; small children, tractor parts and the annual crop of carrots from the veggie patch - it will handle them all.


My grandparents had a Belfast – an absolute monster! Armed with two separate taps sticking out of the black and white tiling a further two feet above, they had long rubber nozzles like a cow’s udder allowing you to direct the narrow blast of water all over the place! Great fun for a 9year old, but now I am not so sure it really was a Belfast…


It would appear that London had its own version of the Belfast – the Butler. As you would imagine, its use was a little more refined. Washing a few dishes from the scullery meant that a shallower bowl was a bit easier on the back and it could also have been designed to use less water. The more agricultural weir overflow just wasn’t required, and a Belfast was for down in the kitchen area for washing the bigger pans.


My grandparents 1930’s house in Hove (actually) was just a quick trip on the train from London, so it is quite conceivable that the London-style Butler sink was the discerning choice of the day. Also, I remember every detail of that black and white tiled kitchen and not once did I aim the rubber udders down the mystery that would have been a weir overflow! Perhaps they had a Butler after all…


Karl - Lead Designer at Minerva