What’s the difference between a Belfast Sink and a Butler Sink?

I had an interesting enquiry today, a customer wanted to know the difference between a Belfast Sink and a Butler Sink. Thought provoking! Is there a difference?, I’d never considered it!

Belfast Sink by Armitage Shanks

Belfast Sink by Armitage Shanks

It appears to be true that this type of square kitchen sink  should be called a Butler sink, as it was designed to be used by the Butler. Butler sinks made and used in Belfast had a weir overflow built in because fresh water was readily available in Belfast in the late 1700s and it didn’t matter if a little was wasted down the overflow.

The Butler sinks designed for use in London did not have overflows. Water was very precious in London at this time and had to be drawn from deep wells, so not having an overflow was a way to prevent water being wasted.

A London Sink by Armitage Shanks

A London Sink by Armitage Shanks

Traditionally these are the differences but nowadays all types of Butler sink will probably have overflows. There is also the less chunky styled french farmhouse sink which can be referred to as a butler sink.

Download the Ideal Standard/Armitage Shanks Kitchen Works Brochure for more details.


  • http://russellarmstrongblog.wordpress.com/ Integrated Interiors

    Hi thereThank you for this explanation, it was most useful
    For what it is worth, I believed that a butlers sink was "free standing" and a Belfast sink was "inset" into a work surface. The addition of the over flow issue would make sense in that most butlers sink would have been located in the scullery and water overflowing onto the floor there was not a problem, but when in an owners own kitchen then he didn't want overflowing water all over the floor.
    I have used this link in a blog that I am writing, I hope that you do not mind?
    Russell Armstorng
    Integrated Interiors Plumbing & Repairs Ltd http://www.iiplumbing-services-derby.co.uk

  • Jenny Simpson


    Thank you for explaining the difference between the both sinks, i have been looking into purchasing a Belfast sink in my kitchen for some time now, does anyone recommend if these sinks http://www.appliancehouse.co.uk/shop/Belfast-Sink… are Belfast sinks or butlers sinks?

    Thank you