The Lower Shankill is bounded by Crumlin Road to the north, Beverly Street to the south, Agnes Street and Northumberland Street to the west and the Westlink to the east. Despite numerous plans and proposals from 1969 onwards, the area did not have a comprehensive vision for nearly 40 years.
During the 19th Century, as Belfast became more industrialised, linen production was a key industry. In 1861 there were 32 linen mills across the Crumlin, Shankill and Falls Roads. Most of the Shankill found work in the engineering industry and the shipyard during the 1800s and early 1900s. Unemployment grew dramatically during the great depression of the 1930s and in 1932 for the first and only time the people of the Falls and Shankill Roads fought together in opposition to the Stormont Government during the Outdoor Relief (Hunger) Riots.
Industries such as linen and textiles, shipbuilding and engineering were in serious decline by the 1960s, resulting in growing unemployment. The start of the Troubles followed and with it, ill-thought-out redevelopment. In the ensuing years the Shankill population dropped from around 76,000 to approximately 26,000.