This building is one of Belfast's crowning architectural achievements. It was designed by Samuel Ferris Lynn in the Italian Renaissance style and was completed in 1856. On the side facing the river there are carved angels and classical deities representing manufacture, commerce, industry and peace, while the central figures in the pediment are Britannia, Neptune and Mercury. This elegant building conveys the power of the British Empire under Victoria and the commercial success of Belfast as it expanded rapidly in the 19th century. The steps of the Customs House formerly distinguished themselves as the chosen forum for public debate and for many years religious, political and social speakers addressed audiences here up to the 1950s. The Customs House also employed the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope before he discovered literary success.