Census of Population of Northern Ireland 1937

In order to bridge the gap between the census of 1926 and the census which it was intended to take in 1941, a census of more limited scope (e.g., omitting questions regarding occupation and industry) was taken in 1937. The returns were made as at midnight of 28th February – 1st March, 1937, and a Preliminary Report, containing population and other tables, was issued in July of that year.

It was intended to publish in 1939 a General Report for the whole of Northern
Ireland, containing statistical notes on the recorded results, together with tables
covering, in more detail, the figures given in the County volumes. Most of the
tables were duly prepared, but the remainder of the work had to be postponed
indefinitely owing to the outbreak of war. Further, the present paper shortage
renders the immediate production of a lengthy volume undesirable.

Download 1937 

Download 1926

Time Travel – Connecting a vintage dress label to a Belfast company and family

James Lindsay and Co, Belfast

A query recently came into History Hub Ulster from a Bangor lady, Amanda Allaway who has a personal Facebook blog ‘aetherealart’.

Amanda wrote in her blog:

I have a little piece of history that lives in my loft – she was made in the late 1800s I think by a tailors called James Lindsay in the Ulster Arcade in Belfast. I believe this is mourning dress. Unfortunately, the silk facings holding the corset boning together are disintegrating rapidly but sometime soon I will try and restore her for posterity. I rescued her from a wardrobe clear out from a drama group many years ago and she had been tweaked and remade several times but she remains elegant and beautiful”.

and followed it up with a request to History Hub Ulster:

I wonder can anyone help me with some research pointers for this dress – it carries the label James Lindsay &Co Ulster Arcade which I believe is the Lindsay Brothers – Thomas Lindsay, Mayor of Belfast in 1875? I know they were textile merchants (and very successful too) but I don’t know if they actually produced/commissioned clothing? Any info about the company very welcome”.

History Hub Ulster researcher, Richard Graham takes up the story:

James LindsayJames Lindsay and Co was established at 18 Donegall Place, Belfast c 1860. The Lindsay family first came to Ireland from Scotland in 1678, with their descendants moving to Belfast in 1822, opening a “woollen, linen and haberdashery warehouse” trading as J & D Lindsay on Bridge Street. The business prospered and John and David Lindsay brought into the partnership their three younger brothers, one of whom was James Lindsay after which the business at 18 Donegall Place was named.

James LindsayJames Lindsay & Co was part of a much larger family business which traded under the name Lindsay Brothers. They first began manufacturing muslin in the early 1800s, but expanded the business to include the spinning of flax at two large mills (the Mulhouse Works and Prospect mills) and all associated processes involved in the rapidly developing linen industry. These goods were exported all over the world from their warehouse at 7-9 Donegall Place (see pic). This building still stands as the Disney Store today.

Meanwhile one of the brothers, James, developed a retail side to the business at 18 Donegall Place. The building erected in 1858, held some of the finest stock in Belfast, as can be seen by the attached advertisement of 1861. Although it had many departments, it was not a department store per sae – that concept didn’t become popular until the 1910s. It was more of a Victorian fashion emporium and traded as “The Ulster Arcade”.

The business continued to prosper for the next 80 years, and allowed James to reside at a large house and estate called “Wheatfield” at Ballysillan, North Belfast. The business concentrated on products of Irish Manufacture, and they were soon joined by other worldwide concerns such as Robinson & Cleaver which opened their Royal Irish Linen Warehouse two doors up on Donegall Place in 1888 – the year Queen Victoria granted Belfast it’s charter as a city. Here James Lindsay’s premises can be seen during the Edwardian period in 1910.

Although Lindsay Brothers were one of the largest manufacturers of linen products in Ireland – they also produced muslin, cambric and linen handkerchiefs at their Victoria Street premises which were sold at Donegall Place. My feeling is that the dress in your possession may have been imported for retail sale to the ladies of Victorian Belfast, as the range of products included fabrics and finished products from around Europe. I cannot find definitive proof that they actually commissioned or manufactured such detailed work, as the warehouse was very much focused on retail.

In 1920, James Lindsay retired to his villa in Cannes in the South of France, which was named “Lisnacrieve” after the family seat in Co Tyrone. The business was taken over by Thomas Brand, a young entrepreneur who also developed a chain of fashion stores in Belfast City Centre. Brands continued to trade as “The Ulster Arcade – successors to James Lindsay” at 18 Donegall Place until Easter 1941, when during the Blitz of Belfast by German bombers in the Second World War, the premises were completely destroyed, and the name of James Lindsay ceased to exist. Brands went on to form Brand’s Arcade (opposite) and then Brands and Normans on Castle Lane – one of the city’s leading fashion and department stores.

Bringing the story up to date, the site of the Ulster Arcade was later developed (in 1950) as the first branch of C&A in Northern Ireland! They were of course part of the new breed of department store (such as Littlewoods and M&S) which would take over from older stores such as James Lindsay, which dominated the market in Victoria and Edwardian times. Lindsay Brothers continued to trade until the 1960s, when with the decline of linen, they sold to Courtaulds, one of the new synthetic fibre manufacturers to arrive in NI in the 1960s.

When the building was destroyed, Thomas Brand merged with Norman & Co on Castle Lane to form Brands & Normans. The Brand family also developed Brands Arcade (aka Birdcage Walk) becoming one of the most important fashion houses and retailers in Belfast in the “Swinging Sixties” Sadly that business has now also disappeared from the streets of Belfast, as has C&A, Robinson & Cleaver, Anderson & McAuley and all the other great stores, even up to last month when Debenhams closed down.

Article by Richard Graham, Researcher, History Hub Ulster

Ards TT – Ulster ’71 Festival

History Hub Ulster Chair Gavin Bamford asks “How often do you go back and look at your old photograph albums and perhaps discover local history at your fingertips? Is there an archive of life in Northern Ireland waiting to be unveiled to future generations? Will they bring back memories to our older generations?”

Gavin recently found a small number of historical photos in an album from 1971 linked to the Ulster ’71 Festival organised by the Government of Northern Ireland to celebrate 50 years of Northern Ireland.

In 2021 when Northern Ireland celebrates its centenary many people are discussing the political aspects of the past century. 

The history of Northern Ireland isn’t always about politics; it’s about people and sporting achievements too. Between 1928 and 1936 the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) ran the Ards Tourist Trophy (TT) motor races over a triangular circuit of Dundonald, Newtownards and Comber.

On 11th September 1971 as part of the Ulster ’71 Festival the Ulster Vintage Car Club (UVCC) organised an event to commemorate the running of the Ards TT in the 20s/30s. This considerable project involved the erection of a brick ‘pit building’ together with a number of wooden ‘pits’ alongside it. 

Gavin’s photographs, a few are shown here, feature in a short video uploaded to the History Hub Ulster YouTube channel show the ‘pit buildings’ together with some of the wonderful vintage cars shown on the day.

The ‘Belfast Telegraph’ published the following article the day before the event:



The Governor, Lord Grey will head a cavalcade of vintage sports cars round the 13.7 miles of the former Ards Tourist Trophy circuit to-morrow after opening a memorial to the TT races which used the circuit from 1928-1936.

The memorial is in the form of a reconstruction of three of the pit ‘units’. These have been erected on the site of the original pits, close to the Rolls Royce factory outside Dundonald. Built of wood, the 10ft long structures were used by pit staff during races.

The memorial was undertaken by the Ulster Tourist Trophy Commemorative Committee, who scheduled it for Ulster 71.

Committee member, Mr. William Galbraith, said: “This is not just going to be a static out-of-reach memorial. The site of the pit ‘units’ will be a picnic area and a lay-by and we hope many people will use and enjoy it”.

Also on the site will be a brick-built store for the Ulster Vintage Car Club.

During Lord Grey’s tour of the circuit, it is hoped about 25 sports cars of the period, including several former TT cars will take part. 

Said Mr. Galbraith: “Among the cars we are hoping to see is the 4-litre Lagonda, which won at Le Mans in 1935, and then took part here the same year, when driven by J S Hindmarsh”.

Mr. Galbraith said: “There will be three locally-owned ex-TT cars. One is Lord O’Neill’s Invicta which he will use to take Lord Grey round the course. Another is an Alfa Romeo, owned by Malcolm Templeton of Ballymena which will be driven by Jimmy Greenwood, who was the travelling mechanic to Bobby Baird in the 1933 race. The third car is an Aston Martin owned by Bob Stewart from Newtownards”.

Gavin comments “Although now on an extremely busy road, the lay-by and a ‘pit building’ is still there. The original ‘pits’ were destroyed by vandals over the past 50 years. The UVCC has installed a marble and slate commemoration stone at the location. Unfortunately, picnicking is definitely not recommended”. 


RMS Lusitania Talk: 106th Anniversary of her sinking

Friday 7th May 2021 marks the 106th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by the German Imperial Navy. It was one of the worst civilian atrocities of the Great War and played a role in bringing the United States of America into the war. Nigel Henderson, a researcher with History Hub Ulster, will be giving an online talk about the tragedy focussing on some of the local people who perished in the sinking on the anniversary.

RMS Lusitania was built on Clydebank for the Cunard Line by John Brown and Company. When RMS Lusitania was launched on 7th June 1906, she was the largest ship in the world with ten decks accommodating 2,298 passengers and 827 crew. She consumed 840 tons per day and had a maximum speed of 26.35 knots. Her maiden voyage was in 1907, departing Liverpool 7th September and arriving in New York six days later.

Some firsts for RMS Lusitania:

  • first British vessel with four funnels,
  • first ship larger than 30,000 gross tons,
  • first ship wider than the Great Eastern of 1858,
  • first ship to cross the Atlantic in under five days.

In 1915, Lusitania had accommodation for 2,165 passengers and 850 crew, and was fitted with twenty-two standard lifeboats and twenty-six collapsible lifeboats. The accommodation for passengers was split into 563 first class, 464 second class, and 1,138 third class.

When RMS Lusitania left New York on 1st May 1915, there was a total complement of 1,960 people – 1,264 passengers, a crew of 693 and three German stowaways. When detected, the stowaways were held under guard as they were deemed to be enemy agents. Three of the passengers were distressed seamen being given passage home in Third Class.

RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 on 7th May 1915 and sank in eighteen minutes. The wreck lies 300 feet below the surface eleven miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale, County Cork.

In total 1,197 people died during or as a result of the sinking. 788 passengers, 402 crew and the three stowaways died on 7th May 1915, and a further four passengers died after being brought to shore.  128 of the fatalities were citizens of the United States of America, including Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in America. The sinking of the Lusitania turned American opinion against Germany, although the United States would not declare war on Germany until April 1917.

An Author and Justice of the Peace

Archibald McIlroy of Drumbo was a stockbroker and Justice of the Peace who had emigrated to Canada with his wife to work as missionaries. Archibald was a published author in the Kailyard style, late 19th-century movement in Scottish and Ulster Scots writing that was characterised by a sentimental idealisation of humble village life. His novels captured the ethos of rural life, particularly from a Presbyterian perspective. Among his novels were When Lint was in the Bell, The Auld Meetin’ Hoose Green (1898), The Banker’s Love Story. Archibald and Anna McIlroy sailed in Second Class and Archibald, who was 55 years old, is commemorated on the war memorial tablet in Ballycairn Presbyterian Church, Ballylesson. Anna Caroline McIlroy died in Toronto on 21st July 1942 at the age of 77.

A Mill Manager

Walter Mitchell, also of Drumbo, was a manager at the Island Spinning Company in Lisburn when he was offered a job as the assistant manager of the Marshall Mills at Kearny in New Jersey. He and his wife Jeanette were married on 28th December 1912 at Drumbo Parish Church and later the same day they boarded SS California at Londonderry bound for a new life in the United States, where their son, Walter, was born in August 1914. The Mitchell family was travelling in Second Class and Jeanette lost her husband and infant son. Walter Mitchell senior, who was 27 years old, is buried in the graveyard at Holy Trinity Church in Ballylesson. Walter Mitchell junior, who was ten months old, was buried in one of the mass graves in Queenstown (now Cobh).


A Typist

Sarah Hale, who was born in Ballymena but lived in Belfast, was employed as a typist by the Cunard Line. Sarah was 29 years old when she died and, as she was part of the ship’s complement, she is commemorated as an official war fatality by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Sarah’s body was returned to the family home for burial in Belfast City Cemetery on 12th May.

A Photographer

Robert McCready was born near Maghera but lived in the Oldpark area of Belfast. Robert had worked as a photographer for Messrs Charles and Russell Photographers of Royal Avenue for twelve years when he emigrated to North America in 1913. He was a passenger in Third Class and was returning to Ireland to enlist for war service. He was 29 years old when he died and is recorded on the Roll of Honour for Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church.

Gavin Bamford, Chair of History Hub Ulster, said, “Nigel has pieced together several interesting personal biographies relating to the sinking of RMS Lusitania. A column of this nature does not facilitate in-depth details for the people covered in the online talk on Friday 7 May.

Details of the how to access the talk are included in an event page of History Hub Ulster’s Facebook page – www.facebook.com/events/1025501634647947/. It promises to be an evocative presentation.”

Hillsborough Graveyard

A lot of history is hidden in local graveyards just waiting to be brought back to life … sometimes by accident. As Nigel Henderson, a researcher with History Hub Ulster, explains, “I recently visited the graveyard at Hillsborough Parish Church to search for a headstone commemorating Joseph Beddy  Lambert, who was killed during the first German air raid on 8th April 1941. A veteran of the Great War, he was injured at Belfast Docks and died at the Mater Hospital. He was 53 years old. I never did find a memorial for Joseph, but I did spot a well-preserved family memorial on which John Cleland, a Boer War fatality, is commemorated. 

Although this war is not my usual area of interest, the amount of detail on the headstone piqued my interest. As 8th May is the 120th anniversary of his death, I thought the following short biography would be of interest to your readers. I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal for information about the final resting place of Joseph Beddy Lambert or, indeed, any other blitz fatalities buried locally.” 

John Cleland was born on 7th April 1871 at Kilmood, between Killinchy and Ballygowan, to John Millen Cleland and Mary Barclay Cleland (nee Dickson). His father later married Sara Johnson on 22nd October 1885 at Hillsborough Presbyterian Church. John and Sara were both National School teachers and, in the 1901 Census, the family was living at Main Street in Hillsborough and his father was recorded as being a teacher of Chemistry, Physics, Science, and Botany.

John Cleland was a chemist and a member of the Royal Irish Rifles militia when he enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Omagh on 11th March 1890. His period of engagement was seven years regular service and five years reserve service, but he extended his regular service in 1897. He served with 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers during the 1897/98 North Western Frontier campaign, being awarded the India Medal (1895) with Punjab Frontier 1897-98 and Tirah 1897-98 clasps. He was wounded during the Second Anglo-Boer War whilst serving with 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. On 30th March 1900, General Redvers Buller wrote to the Secretary of State for War listing cases of distinguished conduct in the field. Lance-Corporal John Cleland was included in the report as he had rendered very valuable assistance to the wounded under heavy fire on 23rd-24th February. John Cleland held the rank of Sergeant when he died of dysentery on 8th May 1901 at Middelburg in Transvaal Province. In addition to the Distinguished Conduct Medal, he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with four clasps – Belfast, Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, and Relief of Ladysmith.

Gavin Bamford, Chair of History Hub Ulster, concluded, “Every graveyard in Ulster will turn up an interesting story and Peter McCabe, an Associate Member of our society, will soon be publishing a book looking at twenty headstones in twenty different cemeteries in Northern Ireland. The book includes a chapter on the graveyard in Hillsborough and both Joseph Beddy Lambert and John Cleland feature in the chapter.”

Nigel Henderson can be contacted at nigel_henderson@hotmail.com and Gavin Bamford can be contacted via research@historyhubulster.co.uk 

Belfast Blitz 80 – Wartime in the Foreign Department

As part of our #BelfastBlitz80 series, we publish an article by the late Ned Dyas, retired manager of the Northern Bank, Foreign Department, Victoria Street, Belfast. ‘Wartime in the Foreign Department’ was first published in the Northern Bank Staff Magazine ‘The Link’ in June 1993. Ned Dyas died on 14th October 2019.

Setting the scene

Northern Bank, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

If you transfer your gaze momentarily to the left of the main door of the old Northern Bank, Head Office in Victoria Street you will see nearest the corner a tall window. This, double glazed and pretty sturdy, was the window to the world of the wartime Foreign Department of the Bank. A second window looked out, as it still does, onto Ulster Street and the building of G. Heyn & Sons Ltd. In the third wall stood a fireplace where a bright, richly burning fire greeted you each morning and the remaining wall was in fact an oak partition separating the room from the Bank’s main waiting room. Apart from the Manager’s large and imposing desk and those for the typists, a high solid desk stretched round two of the windowed walls. The staff either sat on high stools at this desk or more often than not stood and leaned! The high desk was essential to carry and spread the huge ledgers recording the transactions. The old-style telephones with separate earpieces were still in use. I well remember too that one of the cupboards held bundles and bundles of Reichsmark Notes dating from the collapse of the mark in the twenties. This was 1943 – fifty years ago.

Extract from a wartime fire prevention document completed
for Northern Bank, 110 Victoria Street branch.

Fire-watching at Head Office

Belfast had been the subject of its main air attack in 1941 and while our Head Office, like the Belfast, Ulster and National Banks, was very much in the target area being so near the shipyard it escaped any major damage. The other banks were similarly fortunate. A solitary incendiary bomb had left a hole in the floor of the Stationery Store and I remember having to step over this hole to get at our supplies. Fire-watching was at once a chore and a source of much needed extra remuneration as far as ‘juniors’ were concerned, so those of us in digs did as many nights as possible. Pay was at the rate of 3/= (three shillings) per night, in modern terms 15p but in real value more like £5 to-day [1993]. If you were lucky enough to be asked to do an extra night for a Director or Chief Cashier or other senior member of staff you could earn as much as 7/6d for the night. This as you may well imagine was regarded as a plum! When I tell you that our annual starting salary was £100 per annum plus a 16% War Bonus out of which in my case £78 went on digs you will see that the fire-watching shillings were valuable indeed. Many’s a nice-looking girl would not have been asked out without them. You cycled from your digs to the office, arrived for fire-watching about 10 pm, slept the night in the main waiting room or Foreign Department where the beds were assembled and cycled back for breakfast making sure that you would be back in good time for your day’s work. If you were going to arrive late for fire-watching you made a prior arrangement with a fellow watcher to let you in at the side door. Quite often the pulley bell on the great front door would clang out in the darkness to announce a late comer and I can remember on occasions seeing the face of the Albert showing midnight as I made my way down to the side door. We had an almost permanent firewatcher in Mick the porter. You would find him doing his football pools when you arrived in for duty. Almost completely deaf, he was nevertheless bright of eye, beaming smile and a loyal servant of the Bank. His favourite comment when you handed him a letter or parcel for delivery was “Thank you kind Sir, your kindness exceeds your personal beauty by far; your face I may forget but your kindness never.”

Dealing with the U.S. Forces

Northern Bank was first to operate a Foreign Department and was appointed by the Government as its Agent to deal with the U.S. Forces and authorised to deal with all foreign currency notes and coin on behalf of the Bank of England. This resulted not only in all the other Banks clearing their purchases of U.S. Dollar Bills, etc. to us on a weekly basis but also meant that we were in the front line for dealing with the U.S. Forces Finance Officers. Such sights as our Head Office Cash Office packed with U.S. Navy Personnel when a U.S. Cruiser or Destroyer docked in Belfast and the boys needed cash for the weekend were not infrequent. At such times we all became cashiers for an hour or so! On Pay Days when U.S. Finance Officers were drawing sterling cash for their Forces pay the steps on either side to the Main Door at Head Office would be lined by troops with rifles at the ready, all the way indeed from their bullion van in the street below to the very counter inside. There was an unofficial arrangement that the Bank would try to oblige Officers and Men of the Forces who were here for a longer spell and wanted cheques cashed.

Sailors queuing at the Belfast Banking Company, Bangor branch

It was, and probably still is, a very serious offence for U.S. service personnel to issue a dud cheque so the risk was not perhaps regarded as a major one. Nevertheless, we and the other Banks did have occasional trouble with unpaid cheques. I can recall cheques written out on ordinary sheets of paper shaped like a cheque being returned by our Agents not with “Refer to Drawer” or “Insufficient Funds” but with the ultimate answer “No such Bank”.


Glimpses of the Daily Routine

To outline the daily routine in the Foreign Department would be a bore but a couple of features I recall may be of interest. We received dozens of cables each day from the States asking us to make payments to individual U.S. Army personnel at Camps all over Northern Ireland and these were domiciled at our local Branches or with another Bank if we hadn’t a Branch in the nearest town. As many as 150-200 “Advices to Beneficiary” were despatched daily to these personnel. How’s that for a postage book! [Editor: every outgoing letter had to be detailed in a hand written ledger]. Not only that but happily the Linen Industry kept its flag flying right through the war. Linen was still in great demand in the U.S.A., Mexico, the Latin American countries, Cuba and the Caribbean Islands and in all the countries of South America. We might have had a dozen Registered Airmail letters a day containing Shipping Documents for Havana, Rio de Janeiro, etc. Despite the risks of war, I cannot recall us losing an original set of Shipping Documents, though duplicate documents were always sent on by surface mail (even more hazardous).

The Bank as a Family

Nostalgia has a habit of painting one’s memories in a rosy glow but I’m sure I’m not mistaken in saying that Banks of those days, not alone ours, were very much large families. And as in all families there were the lighter moments! I could tell you of duets in the Letter Department in the morning interrupted by our Bank Secretary, Hugh Murphy, a man of imposing stature but gentle in manner, asking with a broad smile when the Opera was beginning. Incidentally it was Mr. Murphy’s dictum that if you walked round the Office with a bundle of papers under your arm no one would ever ask you to do anything. To conclude, our small staff of eight or nine in the Foreign Department was kept at full stretch during this time but there was very much a family feel about all we did and to someone like myself (and, if I may include him, John Tunstead) coming from Dublin to Belfast and not knowing a soul it was good to find oneself among so many friends and so soon.

Research to identify descendants of John Mitchell, Northern Bank, Kilrea

During the clear out of the Northern Bank (Danske Bank) branch in Kilrea, Co. Londonderry prior to its closure in December 2020, an ‘Illuminated Address’ book was found in storage. This hardback book, in ‘used’ condition consists of 8 thick card pages bound in a red cover with gold leaf patterns embossed on each cover. It is dated the 27th October 1923 and was given to ‘John Mitchell, Manager of the Northern Bank by his friends in Kilrea and District upon the occasion of his transfer to the Managership of the Londonderry Branch’. The book was designed and printed by ‘Carey and Thomson’ of Royal Avenue, Belfast. In addition to the 3 pages of the address and the list of subscribers, there are water colour pictures of ‘The Bann Bridge, Kilrea’, ‘The Northern Bank Kilrea’, ‘Kilrea From Railway Station’ and ‘The Golf Links Kilrea’.

Gavin Bamford was asked by Andrew Hunter, Northern Bank t/a Danske Bank to trace a living descendant of John Mitchell as the bank would like to return the book to his family. Gavin undertook his research as Chair of local history group, ‘History Hub Ulster’.

See the Book – Watch video 

Read the full story – Download the pdf

Lieutenant Edward Workman MC

On this day in 1916 Lieutenant Edward Workman died in the Duchess of Westminster hospital, Le Touquet, France where he was being treated for wounds received exactly one week before in a raid on German trenches; it initially was thought that his wounds were not serious.

Edward (Ted) Workman was born at 32 College Gardens, Belfast on 4th August 1886 into a family of substantial means – the only son of Frank Workman, one of the founders of Workman Clark, Shipbuilders, Belfast and Sara (nee McCausland). He had a younger sister – Florence “Sis” and was educated initially at private school in Walmer, Kent and then went on to Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge. By his early twenties, Ted was a Director of Workman Clark, managing the South Yard of the family’s shipbuilding business and as such was clearly destined for greater things. At the time of the “Home Rule” crisis he was a well-regarded Company Commander in the 6th Battalion, East Belfast Regiment of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) which he had joined from the outset.

At the very outbreak of the Great War Ted volunteered to fight for his country and was gazetted Second Lieutenant, 5th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles (Royal South Downs) on 15th August 1914 initially serving at Victoria Barracks, Belfast before posting to the British Expeditionary Force, attached initially, to The York and Lancaster Regiment. He arrived in Rouen, France on 7th May 1915 and was promoted to Lieutenant on 22nd May 1915, attached to the 2nd Battalion RIR. Ted’s first real action was in Belgium at Hooge which is just outside Ypres and close to the perhaps better known Paeschaendael. The action in this theatre was brutal in the extreme and resulted in very high casualties on both sides, many of these inflicted in terrible hand-to-hand fighting in mud and water-filled trenches where men even struggled to pass each other. As an illustration of how terrible the fighting was, Ted was only one of three officers who came out of one of the earlier large raids unscathed (one of these was later killed); for his actions he was Mentioned in Dispatches by Sir John French. At this time, Ted was five feet seven and three quarters inches tall, weighed only 9 stones 13 pounds and the life expectancy of a young front-line officer was known to be measured in days.

In mid-January 1916 an order was issued to conduct a substantial raid on the enemy trenches to capture prisoners and gather information on the enemy’s strength and positions. On 19th January 1916 whilst commanding B Company of the 2nd RIR, he was tasked with leading part of the raid on the enemy trenches at the River Lys near Armentiers. Under heavy rifle, machine gun and artillery fire Ted and his men made it into the German trench and captured a number of prisoners. Whilst holding these prisoners at pistol point and still in the german trenches, he was struck on the head by a rifle butt and was knocked to the ground but recovered sufficiently well to be able to lead his men and prisoners back to their own trenches. Following treatment at the First Aid Station he was evacuated to the Duchess of Westminster’s Hospital at Le Touquet, Sadly, and despite the best efforts of the surgeons, he developed a severe infection which was to lead to his death from meningitis exactly one week after receiving his injury. Perhaps uniquely, his Father, Mother, Sister and her husband had travelled to France in time to see the seriously ill Ted. He was laid to rest in a simple military ceremony in the Camiers Road Military Cemetery at Etaples in France and in recognition of his significant part in the action and for his courage under fire he was awarded (posthumously) the Military Cross.

Frank and Sara paid tribute to their beloved son by erecting a memorial commemorating Ted and 135 Workman Clark employees who died in that war. They commissioned Sophia Rosamund Praeger to carve three relief panels and a silhouette of Ted, the latter forming the centrepiece of the memorial. The remaining portions of the original memorial – the carved silhouette of Edward Workman, the panel detailing Ted’s civil and military accomplishments, and the panels listing the names of the shipyard fatalities are embedded in the outer wall of the Pumphouse building at the Thompson Dock in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

As her own tribute to her beloved son, Sara compiled a substantial archive which contains a mixture of family photographs and articles chronicling Ted’s short life. Included in this are many of his letters from the Front including a barely legible scribbled note from him written from the hospital only a few days before he died. This important archive is a treasured family possession.

Newtownards Camp – A Forgotten Camp of the Great War

In late 1914, Campbell and Sons of Ravenhill Road were awarded the contract to construct the camp and advertised for “galvanised iron fitters for Newtownards Camp”. The erection of the buildings was carried out under the direction of James Sinclair Jackson, representing Swiney, Ferguson and Croasdaile of Royal Avenue. He was wounded in 1916 whilst serving with the Royal Engineers.

In February 1915, Major-General Friend, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Ireland, inspected the men of the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and the first death of a soldier from the camp occurred. Rifleman William James Bacon (35) died of influenza and pneumonia at Newtownards Workhouse Infirmary on 6th February. His body was returned to his home in Portrush for burial in Ballywillan Cemetery with full military honours.

An outbreak of scarlet fever was to claim the life of Lance-Corporal John Bowden (19) of Harryville at Newtownards Fever Hospital on 1st April 1915. He was buried with full military honours in Ballymena New Cemetery on 3rd April. 

In the same month, John Cooper, a regimental librarian, lost the sight in one eye after being struck by a stone chip from road-building work at the camp. He was discharged from the army and had to support a wife and six children on an allowance of twelve shillings and sixpence per week.  A year later his claim for damages against the camp contractors had still not been resolved.


In September 1915, the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons’ Service Squadron, the Ulster Division’s cavalry unit, moved to Newtownards Camp in preparation for being deployed to France. The Catch-my-Pal Society erected a recreation hut at the camp around the same time. It was a place where the soldiers could gather to read, play games and to write letters home.

ParkerIn 1916, the camp became a training base for the Ulster Division’s reserve battalions. On 17th December 1917, men from the 19th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles were carrying out bomb throwing practice when a fatal accident occurred. Corporal Leonard Parker, who had recently been invalided from the Western Front, was leading the practice when a bomb that he was preparing to throw exploded prematurely. He was killed instantaneously and two officers, Major Hall and Lieutenant Currie, were seriously injured. Major William Charles Hall (52) died of shrapnel wounds later the same day. Corporal Leonard Edward John Parker (20), a son of Edward and Lilian Parker of Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, London, was interred in Movilla Cemetery in Newtownards.


By 1918, the camp was the home base of the Irish Command Labour Corps, which remained at the camp until the end of 1919. In September 1919, a memorial to the men of the ICLC who had served in the Great War was erected near the camp’s recreation ground. The location is marked on the OSNI Historical Fourth Edition map. It is not known what happened to the memorial.

In the early 1920s, the camp became the training depot for the RUC and Ulster Special Constabulary. In January 1921, the evangelist Captain Gipsy Pat Smith, who had served in the Great War, addressed over 400 men at the YMCA Hut in the camp. Throughout the 1920s, the camp was used for annual shooting competitions by the police and for sporting events.

In August 1921, a fatal incident occurred when three Specials were returning to camp from Ballygowan in a private car. On approaching the North Gate, the car slowed but one of the camp guards fired a shot which struck Special Constable Thomas Reid (27) in the chest. Although he was treated by medical staff at the camp, Thomas died on 31st July at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

In May 1922, Sergeant William Lamont lost his life in another accident at Newtownards Camp. His wife, Martha (33) died at their home in Fourth Street on 5th May 1922. The news was relayed to the guardhouse the following morning. When Sergeant Blythe called at Sergeant Lamont’s cubicle in Hut 15 to deliver the news, he noticed a strong smell of gas and discovered William lying prone. Sergeant Blythe, CSM Cherry and Sergeant Barnes (RAMC) attempted artificial respiration to no avail. Dr Jamison, the camp’s Medical Officer, gave evidence at the Coroner’s Enquiry that William had died of asphyxia caused by gas poisoning. William and Martha Lamont are buried in Belfast City Cemetery Glenalina Extension.

Whilst the camp continued to be used for shooting competitions and for training purposes by the British Army (e.g., 300 men of the London Irish Rifles were quartered at the camp in July 1931 before moving to Victoria Barracks, Belfast), the numbers of men stationed in the camp declined. In March 1926, the Minister of Home Affairs made a statement about the camp in response to a written question from Major David Graham Shillington, MP for Armagh. The Minister reported that the camp was held on a yearly lease from the War Department at a cost of £1,080 p.a. and that 145 men, including twenty Special Constables, were quartered at the camp. The lease could be cancelled by either side at six months’ notice.

Following the creation of the airfield at Newtownards in the mid-1930s and the outbreak of the Second World War, the camp returned to military duty … but that is another story.




Promoted to Glory – The Salvation Army’s Supreme Sacrifice in the Great War

Salvationist Great WarThe Salvation Army, like the YMCA and other societies, provided support functions for troops in theatres of war. The first mechanised ambulances to be used on the Western Front were provided by the Salvation Army and members served as ambulance drivers. The Salvation Army also provided rest and recreation huts where soldiers could meet and get news from home. Salvation Army bands provided concerts to entertain the troops. However, members of the Salvation Army also enlisted with the armed forces and three members were awarded the Victoria Cross. So far, I am only aware of only one war memorial tablet for a unit of the Salvation Army in Ulster – for No. 1 Corps (Ballymacarrett and Mountpottinger) whose premises were located at the corner of Mountpottinger Road and Calton Street.

Salvationist Great WarThe memorial tablet records the names twenty-four members of this corps who served with the armed forces and five of the men died on active service overseas. The memorial tablet, now located at the Belfast Temple on the Cregagh Road, was made by David Mairs of Great Victoria Street and unveiled by Captain Herbert Dixon. The latter was the fourth son of Sir Daniel Dixon and represented the Belfast Pottinger constituency (later Belfast East) at Westminster. He was made 1st Baron Glentoran in 1939 and became the Third Baronet of Ballymenock in 1950, a few months before his death. In addition to the memorial tablet, there is also a pictorial parchment memorial dedicated to the Comrades of Ballymacarrett No 1 Band. The portraits of the fatalities in this article are drawn from the parchment commemoration.

Salvationist Great WarGeorge Brankin was born on 3rd March 1888 at North Street in Newtownards to James Brankin and Agnes Anna Savage and his father died of tuberculosis at Thistle Street in Belfast on 6th July 1896 at the age of 40. In 1901, Agnes Brankin, now a draper, was living at Marymount Street in Ormeau Ward with five children ranging in age from 10 to 19 and a seven-year-old grandson. George Brankin was living at Carnan Street in Shankill Ward when he married Mary Jane Rowney on 31st March 1905 at Trinity Church of Ireland in Belfast. George and Minnie had five children between December 1906 and January 1916, with one child dying 24 days after being born. George Brankin was working at the Sirocco Works and living at Seventh Street when he enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles and held the rank of Corporal when he was deployed to France with 14th Battalion in October 1915. George Brankin was wounded during the Battle of Albert in July 1916 and this photograph, in which he is wearing hospital blues, was taken whilst he was convalescing. He was subsequently stationed with a reserve battalion at Ballykinlar Camp before returning to his battalion on the Western Front in early May 1917. Sergeant George Brankin died of wounds at No 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital on 8th June 1917, aged 29. He is buried in Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery in France and commemorated on the Rowney family memorial in Belfast City Cemetery. He is also commemorated on the Newtownards and District War Memorial, and on the memorial tablets for Davidson & Company and St Mark’s Church of Ireland in Newtownards. Mary Brankin, who had four children under the age of eleven, was awarded a pension of thirty-one shillings and three pence from December 1917. She also received a War Gratuity of fifteen pounds and ten shillings in November 1919.

Robert Burton was born around 1893 at Pollockshaws in Renfrewshire to Andrew Burton and Agnes Cameron and the family was living in Govan in 1901. The family was living at Hornby Street in 1906 when Andrew Burton, a coal trimmer, died in the Royal Victoria Hospital. He had fractured his skull after falling into the hold of Steamship Empress on 17th April 1906 and died three days later. In 1911, Agnes Cameron Burton was a linen weaver and living at St Leonard’s Street in Victoria Ward with six children, ranging in age from four to nineteen. Her two eldest children, Agnes and Robert, were both employed at Belfast Rope Works – Agnes as a netter and Robert as a machine boy. Robert enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was posted to the 5th Battalion, part of the 10th (Irish). The division departed Liverpool on 7th July 1915, bound for the Eastern Mediterranean and Robert Burton signed his army will on 22nd July on the Island of Lemnos. Lance-Corporal Robert Burton landed with 5th Battalion at Suvla Bay on 7th August 1915 and was killed in action eight days later at the age of 22. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula. His mother was awarded a pension of ten shillings per week from March 1917 and received a War Gratuity of three pounds in December 1919. On the 50th anniversary of his death, the Burton family donated a Bass drum and side drum to the Ballymacarrett and Mountpottinger Salvation Army Band in memory of Robert. A simple plaque adorns each drum.

Henry Dowds was born on 30th March 1886 at Banoge near Waringstown to James Dowds, a weaver, and Rachel Mercier. Henry Dowds was a weaver when he married Minnie Bertha Lawton, a Salvation Army Officer, on 11th May 1906 in Scarva Street Presbyterian Church in Banbridge. In 1911, Henry was a docks labourer and living at Jonesborough Street with his wife and their first son, Horace Henry (3). Their second child, Norman Harold, was born at Jonesborough Street in May 1913. Henry Dowds enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles and was posted to the 17th (Reserve) Battalion before being deployed to the 15th Battalion on the Western Front after December 1915. Henry Dowds was killed in action on 1st July 1916, aged 30, and is buried in Connaught Cemetery at Thiepval. Minnie Bertha Dowds was awarded a pension of twenty-one shillings per week from February 1917 and received a War Gratuity of £3 in October 1919.

Albert Parker was born on 25th August 1898 at Jocelyn Avenue to George James Parker, an engine fitter, and Jane Thomson who lived at Frank Street in 1911 and at Castlereagh Street in 1918. Before the war Albert Parker was employed at McCaw, Stevenson and Orr Limited (printers, publishers, and chromo lithographers, Loop Bridge Works, Castlereagh Road). Albert Parker enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to France with 14th Battalion in October 1915. He was Killed in Action on 16th November 1916, aged 18, and is buried in Pond Farm Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated on a family memorial in Carnmoney Church of Ireland Graveyard. Jane Parker was awarded a pension of five shillings per week and George James Parker received a War Gratuity of eight pounds and ten shillings in October 1919. His brother, John Parker, served with the same battalion and was transferred to the Class Z Army Reserve on 9th April 1919. He was subsequently awarded a 20% Disablement Pension in respect of gunshot wounds to the left hip at the rate of eight shillings per week. John Parker is also commemorated on the memorial tablet.

Arthur Paton (or Patton) was born on 28th March 1898 at Spruce Street in Cromac Ward to Arthur Patton, a baker, and Jeannie Galbraith and the family lived on the Woodstock Road before moving to Reid Street by 1911. Arthur Patton enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles and was posted to the 14th Battalion on the Western Front after December 1915. Sergeant Arthur Patton was Killed in Action on 27th June 1917, aged 19, and is buried in Messines Ridge British Cemetery in Belgium. Locally, he is commemorated on a family memorial in Dundonald Cemetery and on the memorial Roll of Honour for Ravenhill Road Presbyterian Church. His mother was awarded a pension of five shillings per week from December 1918 and received a War Gratuity of thirteen pounds and ten shillings in October 1919.

Nigel Henderson, member History Hub Ulster