Security structure surrounding RUC (Police) Station

Defensive steel and wire fortification surrounding RUC Station, with heavily reinforced sangar-type observational block at the entrance to the station.

Across Northern Ireland, from the larger urban towns and cities to small rural villages and dotted across the landscape, heavy security installations formed a distinct feature of the built environment during the Troubles. RUC (later to become the PSNI in 2001) police stations as well as court houses and army barracks required heavy fortification, while observation towers were erected in many locations, including Derry/Londonderry city centre and several notable hilltops. Town centres were also often fortified with “temporary” steel, concrete block and wire structures, including Belfast’s main pedestrianised shopping drag at Donegall Square and Royal Avenue where shoppers” bags were routinely checked at steel turnstiles, which stayed in place for many years. The character of the built environment was markedly affected by the accretion of such large and distinct hard-edged structures, bringing a brutalized appearance to city and town centres, residential areas and even to small-scale streetscapes. Perhaps needless to say, these crude structures were erected and constructed for the security forces in a utilitarian manner rather than being designed by specific architects. In his Troubles Archive essay, Ciaran Mackel writes, “Police stations, court houses and security installations were wrapped by high walls and fences and imaged institutions under siege. Forms followed security rather than the more general forming of function which was almost de rigueur in the local architectural language.” Since 1998 some of the fortifications have been taken down and gradually pared back but many remain.

The defensive structures around police stations and army barracks grew as the technology of the IRA advanced. Initially, where the buildings were attacked with petrol bombs and nail bombs, high fencing sufficed. Later, the IRA developed mortars nicknamed ‘barrack busters’, improvised from gas canisters and detonated with semtex and much more robust defense became necessary.

Further Infomation


Crossmaglen is a border town with a long history of smuggling and agrarian agitation.


6-8 Cullaville Road



BT35 0AB


54.076668, -6.608333


Date of Project


Year Opened



Defensive steel and wire fortification


Blunt and functional.