Belfast Butler Sink with Weir Overflow
A set of photos sent me on a quest this week to discover just what is the difference
between a Butler and a Belfast sink. A quick search on Google revealed that opinion
was divided, so I sought the expert help of Richard Tyzack, Managing Director of
Brass & Traditional Sinks.
As it turns out the answer is far more interesting that what some people had suggested
on Google - that it was just that one sink was shallower than the other - and involved
a little bit of history too.
"In actual fact they are both butler sinks (ie made to go in the butler’s pantry),
but those made in Belfast have a Weir overflow, while those made in London don’t,"
explains Richard. The photo above is a Belfast sink, available from Brass & Traditional
Sinks, price £197.40.
"This is because, when butler sinks were first made in the late 17th century, each
major city had a sanitation officer autonomously responsible for the ordering of
pipes, basins, sinks, and decreeing sizes, styles etc. Different patterns were evolved
and gave rise to specific types. Hence the Belfast butler sink was different from,
say, the London butler sink.
"Belfast, with access to plentiful water housed sinks with overflows, but London,
built on clay where deep wells had to be drilled to reach water, discouraged water
wastage and no overflows were accommodated. Therefore, the Belfast butler sink has
what is known as a Weir overflow built into it, whereas a standard Butler Sink doesn’t."
Towards the end of the 19th Century, French Farmhouse sinks started to make their
mark. Using local French clay, which was more refined than that used to produce
the Butler sinks in the UK, the French were able to cast more elegant pieces and
were typically thinner on the side walls.
Whilst fireclay sinks are extremely hard wearing, there are a number of points to
consider in order to keep your sink looking its best. Richard gave me a few tips
here too. “You can clean everyday stains such as tannin from tea, coffee or red
wine with a non-abrasive liquid or cream cleanser – try using ‘Cif’ or washing up
liquid," he says. "To remove really stubborn marks such as pencil thin grey lines
from aluminum saucepans I recommend ‘Astonish’ paste.
“In my experience it is extremely difficult to damage a ceramic sink. However
there are two points that the team at Brass & Traditional Sinks will always
warn you about. Firstly, NEVER place a washing up bowl directly into the sink.
If there is any grit on the base of the bowl the friction between the two can cause
nasty scratches. Secondly, don’t drop heavy pans into or onto the sink – it
just takes a little common sense!”
For more information about Brass and Traditional Sinks call 01291 650 738 or visit
Author: Sara Claridge. Posted on April 27, 2007