Butler / Belfast Sinks
For over four centuries the classic Butler sink has been an iconic part of kitchen design. Initially created for use in the butler’s pantry, the sink rapidly grew in popularity as production methods improved, and people became aware of its versatility. The introduction of sanitation officers in many UK cities meant that various nuances sprang up in the shape of the design. In London, where water was sparse, the sink was designed without weir overflow.
Today the Belfast sink can be seen in every kind of kitchen design, in period properties and the most modern of apartments. The Belfast sink is a variant of the Butler sink, the original solid fireclay rectangular sink, installed by the Victorians for their domestic staff. The Belfast is identical to the Butler except for the addition of an overflow weir. One story is that the Belfast sink was originally made for Irish export. In Ireland there was no restriction on water supply and the overflow offered protection against accidental flooding.
The Butler sink was typically shallower than a Belfast sink. The deeper Belfast would have been used for washing large items. Since they took time to fill, perhaps a large overflow was seen a useful precaution against inattentive scullery maids?
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