A Short History of 32 to 38 Queen Street, Belfast

‘A Short History of 32 to 38 Queen Street, Belfast’ by Richard Graham

Originally known as David Street on leases of 1806, the present name of Queen Street came into being by 1810. The reason for the distinct angle on the street, at its junction with College Street, is because the original street was laid out using the line of part of the old town defences.

In Georgian times, the street was largely inhabited by merchants, and as time went on many fine houses from this period were built on the street.

Unknown artist, drawing, c 1823

By the 1860s there was an Irvinite Meeting House on this site at 34 Queen Street which soon translated itself into a Catholic Apostolic Church. Contrary to what you might think, the Catholic Apostolic Church was a Christian denomination and Protestant sect which originated in Scotland around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. It was a remarkable church in which the members believed in the imminent second coming of Christ, combining revivalist enthusiasm with liturgical worship.

Its founder Edward Irvine was born in Annan, Annandale, Scotland in 1792, and is largely credited with the church’s establishment. After gaining his MA at the University of Edinburgh, he was ordained into the Church of Scotland in 1815, but during that time began to investigate other means of spiritual worship which eventually led to his expulsion from the Church of Scotland and the setting up of the sect which later became known as the Irvingian Movement.

There is little doubt that Irvine would have visited Belfast on several occasions in order to promote his church, but he died “worn out and wasted with labour” in 1834 in Edinburgh at the age of 42.

Queen Street, like much of Wellington Place in the early 1800s was largely residential, with many fine Georgian houses on the thoroughfare. Just within a few yards away at its junction with Wellington Place was another church – the Evangelical Union Chapel, designed by John Boyd in 1858, showing that the area was very different in character to that found today.

As the area changed from residential to commercial, this church was replaced by Kingscourt, a seven-story warehouse, designed by the architect WJ W Roome and opened in 1901. It later became the home of the Athletic Stores, until its destruction by fire in 1974. This warehouse was replaced by a modern office building named Sun Alliance House in 1986 which stands next to the £28 million Aparthotel development being constructed on the site at 32-38 Queen Street today.

So, who would have occupied the houses on Queen Street? Well, in 1868, Miss Stravelly ran a school for young ladies at No 24, whilst Miss Ussher ran a governess and servants’ registry office at no 34. To give you some idea of the former residential nature of the street an interesting photograph exists of some of the former Georgian houses on the thoroughfare just before they were demolished in 1913.

One of the most important civic buildings to be erected on Queen Street was the Hospital for Sick Children in 1878 by Thomas Jackson. The hospital had originally been established at 25 King Street before moving here in 1879. This building remained in use as a children’s hospital until its successor was built on the Falls Road in 1932. This unique building, in Scrabo sandstone, was then taken over as a police barracks which closed in 2000, following the peace process. It can be seen in use as an RUC station beside the Corporation Gas Showrooms of 1871 in this photograph of 1930.

By the end of the 19th century, the CAC church was no longer in use and the site was earmarked for commercial development. Work began at number 36 on a large red brick warehouse designed by Robert Inkerman Calwell in 1898 for the printing and stationary firm of John Dickinson & Company who had occupied smaller premises on the site since 1868. They specialised in linen ornament and fancy box manufacture. Calwell was born at Annadale, Belfast in 1854 becoming a respected engineer and architect, He was civil engineer to the Belfast Central Railway before becoming acting Belfast City Surveyor, a highly regarded position in the city.

The warehouse he designed for the site, and which opened in 1899, was an impressive affair. Built by one of the city’s leading building contractors, W H Stephens & Co, at five stories high it dominated this side of the street. It was however the end of the area being residential and the building became typical of those warehouses which would proliferate the area for the next 80 years. In this image, the former Georgian houses can still be seen on Queen Street at its junction with College Street.

The building was designed for use by John Dickinson & Co, one of the largest and most important printing and stationary companies in the UK. Founded in Hertfordshire in 1810 by John Dickenson, the company pioneered several innovations in paper making under the Lion Brand. During the time the company remained on Queen Street, it acquired the well- known Basildon Bond range of stationary which was distributed from this building to most parts of Ireland.

Another leading printer and stationer operated from the opposite side of the street – this was Robert Carswell & Sons at no 35-39. Carswell’s Buildings was erected in 1895 and the building is currently undergoing refurbishment as “The Printworks” a retail and office development of some 50,000 square feet, and reflective of the high degree of investment in the area.

As time went on and into the 20th century, more warehouses were built on the site of 32-38 Queen Street with an even larger six story building being erected at no 32 and stretching down College Street for Nicholson & Morrow, Wholesale Warehousemen. They would have supplied all forms of shops and retailers and had the unique telegraphic address of “Fancies, Belfast” giving an indication of the products they sold!

There were three such warehouses to be found on the site in the first two decades of the 20th century – all three can be seen in this photograph from 1946 – just after the end of the second world war.

Interestingly there was always an engineering works located to the rear of no 38 at 38a Queen
Street. In the 1930s this was occupied by F A Mawhinney & Co who specialised in automobiles
and coachwork. Earlier in the early 1900s, 38a was where one of Belfast’s most important
automobile engineers started out their business – that was Leslie Porter & Co before they
relocated to larger premises on Gt Victoria Street.

Captain Leslie Porter was an
extraordinary man, being a pioneering racing driver and World War I flying hero … and all during the time he operated out of 28a Queen Street! He was often referred to as “the man who died twice” because of his adventures with early automobiles and in warfare.

Nicholson & Morrow remained at no 32 until the late 1960s, with S O McCabe taking over no 36 from John Dickinson & Co around the same time at no 38, David W Corry maintained a boot, shoe and saddle manufactory from the early 1900s again to the 1960s.

During the “troubles” which broke out in 1969, Queen Street suffered from a destructive bombing campaign very similar to other parts of the city centre. Once it played host to famous dancehalls such as Romano’s which drew thousands of people weekly for entertainment. These gradually closed because of the reluctance of people to go into the city centre at night and Queen Street became much of a ghost town after 6:00pm each evening. This photograph captures Romano’s Ballroom in the 1960s with the warehouse of Nicholson & Morrow towering up to six stories in the background at no 32 Queen Street.  Strangely enough the US Consul remained on Queen Street throughout the worst periods of civil unrest, where the “Stars & Stripes” could be found flying every weekday until the consulate removed to Danesfort in South Belfast.

In the mid-1980s, an application was lodged with Belfast City Council by property developer Gareth Graham to develop the site of the old warehouses on 32 – 38 Queen Street as a new retail and office development to be called Lyndon Court.

The new retail development was to be designed by Belfast architect Barrie Todd Associates for Audio Times Properties Limited. It comprised of a U-shaped three-story block of brick with hipped pantile roofs. Access to the upper floors would be via an external staircase with a plastic barrel vault feature above it. The new building was completed in 1987 and at first attracted some key retail tenants such as Bradbury Graphics. The offices on the upper floors were designed for smaller businesses at a time when massive office developments were going up all over Belfast for financial institutions and government departments. Because of its design, each office would have its “own door access” i.e., no requirement to go through shared access via a reception area.

Following the financial crisis of 2008 in Ireland, the property portfolio of Lyndon Court had been passed to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) as had many properties which fell during that crisis.  By the following decade, the retail development had failed to attract the right prestige tenant and had become reflective of Queen Street itself … that of being rather run down whilst other prestige retail developments were surging ahead in the city such as Victoria Square.

In February 2019, an application was made for planning permission which would allow for the demolition of the existing buildings at 32-38 Queen Street, allowing for the erection of a 175-bed aparthotel with associated bar, restaurant and conferencing facilities. This application was subsequently approved, and demolition of Lyndon Court took place in late 2020.

Construction of the new development is now well underway. Designed by Like Architects and developed by Oakland Holdings, the project is just one further example of the massive changes happening on Queen Street and the surrounding area.

Second World War tragedy for a Great War veteran

Second World War tragedy for a Great War veteran

Angus Norman Russell, a plumber by trade, and his wife, Sadie, were one of the first occupants of the houses built at Brandon Parade in 1930 by the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust for Great War veterans. He lived at Cottage Number 7 which was later re-numbered as 60 Brandon Parade. Angus Russell was born on 10th August 1895 at Malone Place to Thomas Russell, a Stationer and Commercial Traveller, and Annie Cotter. The family lived at Edinburgh Street in 1901 before moving to Agra Street. He enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles on 8th September 1914 and was deployed to France with 8th Battalion in October 1915. He was discharged due to wounds on 14th December 1918 with Silver War Badge Number B73051 and is commemorated on the Roll of Honour for Cooke Centenary Presbyterian Church. He was living at Agra Street when he was awarded a 30% Disablement Pension in respect of gunshot wounds to the chest at the rate of twelve shillings per week. Angus Norman Russell died at 60 Brandon Parade 11th October 1966 at the age of 71.

It was in in April 1945 that tragedy had struck the Russell family.

Shortly after 4pm on 10th April, Norman Russell along with four of his friends from Brandon Parade went to fish for minnows, colloquially known as spricks, at the Silver Stream near the old Sydenham Station on the Belfast and County Down Railway line. The other lads were Brian Johnston, Raymond Galloway, Leonard Waterworth, and Ronald Maitland. Raymond and Leonard also lived in ex-servicemen’s houses.

On the same day, Sub-Lieutenant Edmund John Hoy, a South African attached to 892 Squadron Fleet Air Arm was scheduled to fly a newly arrived Grumman Hellcat aircraft from the Royal Naval Air Station at Sydenham to the squadron base at Eglinton, near Londonderry. Shortly after the aircraft took off from the airfield, the engine stalled and the plane crashed and caught fire near where the five boys were fishing. The National Fire Service and Naval personnel doused the aircraft with foam to extinguish the flames. In the meantime, one of Norman’s friends went to raise the alarm with the family but Norman’s parents were at the cinema (where a notice about the incident was flashed on the screen). Noel Russell and Herbert Lemon rushed to the scene, but it was initially thought that Norman had been in another part of the field and had escaped the crash. However, Ronald Maitland maintained that that Norman had been hit and pointed out to a policeman where Norman had been standing. The National Fire Service was recalled to the scene and an hour later Norman’s body was found in the stream, under the wreckage.

The pilot of the aircraft was injured and died later the same day at the 24th (London) General Hospital, which was based at nearby Campbell College.

At the Coroner’s Enquiry, Raymond Galloway (12), who was struck by flying debris and knocked into the stream, said that the one of the plane’s wings had struck the ground causing it to somersault, with Norman Russell being hit by the tail of the aircraft.

Norman Russell was twelve-years-old and was buried in Dundonald Cemetery on 13th April 1945, the funeral being conducted by the Reverend Chestnutt of Strand Presbyterian Church. The funeral was also attended by representatives of the Royal Navy and the Fleet Air Arm, 86th Company of the Boys’ Brigade, and Strand Public Elementary School. Sub-Lieutenant Edmund John Hoy was 26 years old and was buried in the Glenalina Extension at Belfast City Cemetery the following day.

Norman Russell features in a book about Dundonald Cemetery published in 2019 by Peter McCabe, who lives not far from Brandon Parade. Peter said, “Norman Russell and his father lie in a grave that is only marked by a broken urn with the family name. There is no headstone and no other details until one examines Belfast City Council’s online burial records. I included Norman’s death and burial in my book because I wanted to highlight the personal and tragic story behind an, essentially, unmarked grave.”

Nigel Henderson, Researcher with History Hub Ulster, has been documenting the burial locations of civilians who died in the Second World War. He said, “Although a Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour was published after the Second World War, Norman’s name is not recorded. Whilst the majority of the civilians recorded on the Roll of Honour died due to direct enemy action in air raids and coastal bombardments, others died in accidents. For example, Josephine McGroarty died on 18th October 1943 when a Royal Air Force Avro Anson aircraft crashed onto a house at Drumavoley near Ballycastle. The inclusion of Josephine on the Civilian War Dead list and the absence of Norman’s name, highlights the anomalies that can occur in “official” records. In researching this tragedy for one of Peter’s graveyard tours, I was reminded of the wealth of information that can be gleaned from local newspapers. For example, the image of Norman Russell came from an 11th April 1945 edition of now defunct Northern Whig newspaper.”

Peter McCabe has also published books about Belfast City Cemetery and Roselawn Cemetery and his books are on sale at the Eastside Visitor Centre in Belfast.

 

Forgotten Female War Workers – Pollock Dock Naval Canteen

Forgotten Female War Workers

In 1939, the Ulster Branch of the Missions to Seamen decided to provide a canteen to meet the needs of the men from British and allied naval ships docked in Belfast Harbour. The canteen was housed in premises at Pollock Dock owned by the Harbour Commissioners. The premises had formerly been part of the offices of Workman Clark. The Pollock Dock Naval Canteen, which included a spacious concert hall and facilities for games such as darts and billiards, was formally opened on 1st January 1940 by Rear Admiral Richard Matthew King DSO, Flag Officer in Charge for Belfast. The staff at the canteen were all volunteers, who gave their time as a form of war service.

Just after 11pm on 29th February 1940, Captain Frederick FitzCurrie Trench, a volunteer worker at the club, bade goodnight to five female volunteers who had been on duty since 5:30. He saw them climb into an Austin 10 cabriolet car and heard the engine starting before he went back into the club to finish tidying up and to secure the premises. It was the last time that the women were seen alive. When the women failed to turn up at their respective homes, the alert was raised, and a search was instigated by Captain Trench. The following morning, the police noticed traces of oil on the water and a diver was called in to investigate. James Trainor from Fortingale Street located the car with its radiator embedded in the silt at the bottom of the dock and the vehicle was removed with the assistance of a crane. It seems that, as the car was being driven off in the blackout with minimum lights on the vehicle, the driver took a wrong turn and the car plunged into twenty feet of water in the dock. There were four bodies clasped together inside the car but the body of the fifth lady could not be located. The missing body was recovered on 3rd April, approximately fifty yards from where the car had entered the dock. The owner/driver of the car is not recorded in any of the newspaper articles relating to the incident or the Coroner’s Enquiry.

Mr E R Stephens, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Missions to Seamen, received messages of sympathy from the Duke of Abercorn, Sir Crawford McCullagh (Lord Mayor of Belfast), and Lord Craigavon. The latter said, “I have been deeply shocked to learn of the most distressing accident involving the death of five ladies, who, with such patriotism and self-sacrifice, had ministered to the comforts of our brave sailors at the Pollock Dock Canteen. They lost their lives while serving their country and their names will be held in honoured remembrance by us all.”

A Coroner’s Enquiry was held by Doctor Herbert Perry Lowe, City of Belfast Coroner, on 6th March 1940 and the solicitor acting for the Glass family was critical on the lighting restrictions. Mr George Leitch said, “Northern Ireland was miles away from the seat of hostilities, the lighting restrictions were stricter here than in cities and towns thirty miles from the Western Front. This tragedy should impress on the authorities the necessity for some alleviation in the lighting restrictions.” Doctor Lowe said, “of all the tragedies associated with the black-out he did not think they had one more tragic than this one.”

Captain Trench, who had served with the Army Service Corps and the Tank Corps in the Great War, volunteered at the canteen five afternoons and two or three evening a week. When on duty, he was in charge of the club and the other volunteers.

The five fatalities all lived in the Malone area of Belfast, four are buried in Belfast City Cemetery and one is buried in Dundonald Cemetery.

Mary Gorman Stafford was born on 11th May 1877 at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin to Reverend William Gorman, a Methodist Minister, and Mary Smallman Sibthorpe. The Reverend William Gorman ministered in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Belfast and has been described as “the prince of Irish Methodist preachers”. Mary Gorman married Frederick Stafford on 1st March 1898 at Balmoral Methodist Church (which was also known as Osborne Park Methodist Church), and they were members of the congregation for the rest of their lives. Frederick Stafford died on chronic nephritis on 29th June 1937 at the Rosapenna Hotel in Carrigart, Donegal. Like her husband, Mary Stafford was on the Board of Directors of J J Stafford & Sons, wholesale boot and shoe factors, of Union Street in Belfast and she also did voluntary work for the Voluntary Aid Detachment at the South Belfast Hospital Supply Depot. Mary Stafford as living at 1 Bladon Drive when she died at the age of 62 and is buried in the Stafford family plot in the Glenalina Extension of Belfast City Cemetery on 4th March. Her funeral was attended by the Reverend J E C Lawlor, Chaplain of Belfast Port, and Rear Admiral King. Mary Stafford left effects amounting to £4,117 eleven shillings and eightpence (approximately £245,261 in current terms) to her second son, Malcolm Ashman Stafford (Company Director) of Shrewsbury Drive in Belfast.

Frances Alexander McCammon was born on 12th August 1895 at Belmont Road in Strandtown to Richard Whytstock Leslie, a Medical Doctor, and Rosa Scott Alexander. Frances Leslie married John McCammon, a soldier, on 14th August 1919 in Belmont Presbyterian Church. John McCammon was a Manager with John Shaw Brown & Sons (Damask Linen and Handkerchief Manufacturers) of the Ulster Works on Dublin Road and Marcus Ward Street. Frances McCammon was a founder member of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty in Belfast. The family home was at 103 Osborne Park when Frances died at the age of 44. She is buried in Belfast City Cemetery and was survived by her husband and her daughter, June.

Mary Kathleen Jefferson was born on 18th July 1895 at Salisbury Avenue in North Belfast to John Cunningham McClung, a Linen Salesman, and Agnes Martha Currie. She took an active part in canteen work during the Great War and was later Honorary Secretary of the Duncairn-Clifton Women’s Unionist Association. Mary McClung married Frederic Jefferson on 25th August 1927 at Belfast Registrar’s Office and was living at 20 Bristow Park when she died at the age of 44. She was buried in the McClung plot in Belfast City Cemetery on 5th April 1940. The Right Reverend Doctor James Haire, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Reverend J E C Lawlor, Missions to Seamen, and the Reverend Alexander Lyle Harrison, Fortwilliam Park Presbyterian Church, officiated at the funeral. The Earl of Kilmorey and Rear Admiral King represented the Royal Navy. Mary Jefferson was a member of Fortwilliam Park Presbyterian Church and the Reverend Harrison said that he had made an appeal for books and magazines for the club on the Sunday before the tragedy and was to have handed them to Mrs Jefferson on 1st March. He said he felt that the five ladies were all victims of the war.

Winifred Jameson Glass was born on 14th June 1899 in Cooktown to Reverend Thomas Glass, Minister of First Cookstown Presbyterian Church, and Emily Wilson. Winifred Glass grew up in Australia as her father had accepted a call from a congregation in Melbourne. Following his death, she returned to Northern Ireland with her mother and was living at 53 Malone Road when she died at the age of 40 and was buried in Dundonald Cemetery on 4th March. She was an excellent golfer, being a member of Malone Golf Club.

Emily Margaret Davison was born on 31st August 1904 at Eia House on the Antrim Road to John Smith Morrow, a Medical Doctor, and Mary Mathers McLaughlin. Her maternal grandfather was William Henry McLaughlin, the founder of McLaughlin & Harvey, a construction company. The Morrow family was living at Malone Park when Emily Margaret married Alexander Davison on 12th September 1928 at Malone Presbyterian Church. Alexander Davison was the Managing Director of the Grove Weaving Company and Chairman of the Irish Power Loom Manufacturers Association. Emily Margaret Davison was on the Board of Governors of Ashley House School and was an active member of the Royal Maternity Hospital’s “Gleaners Committee”, which had been formed in August 1933 to further the interests of the hospital. The family home was at 15 Harberton Drive when Emily Davison died at the age of 35 and she was buried in the McLaughlin family plot in Belfast City Cemetery on 4th March. Amongst those attending the funeral were Mr E H Stephens, Missions to Seamen, and Rear Admiral King. Emily Margaret Davison was survived her husband and three children, aged five to eleven.

 

Larne Urban District War Memorial

On 7th March 1922, the Larne War Memorials’ Committee organised two ceremonies in the town – one to commemorate the fallen from the town and the other to demonstrate gratitude to those who had served in the Great War. Colonel Robert Chaine Alexander McCalmont, who had served with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and 1st Battalion Irish Guards, played a role in both ceremonies.

At Noon, Colonel McCalmont unveiled the War Memorial to remember the fallen from the Larne Urban District. The names of the 147 fatalities recorded on the memorial were read out by Major George Thomson DSO who had served with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. The Reverend James Kennedy dedicated the memorial, and the Last Post was played by Buglers from 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment.

At 3pm, Colonel McCalmont he raised the flag in the ceremony to formally transfer Inver House and its grounds to the Larne Branch of the British Legion for use as a club and recreation facility for ex-Servicemen.  Inver House had been purchased by the War Memorials’ Committee from the Barklie family, Colonel McCalmont having played an important role in the transfer.

This war memorial was dedicated to those sailors and soldiers who died in the Great War and were natives, lived in, or left from Larne Urban District. Although it is unclear exactly what was meant by the term “left from Larne”, it possibly referred to men who enlisted in Larne Town. There are men recorded on the memorial whose only identifiable connection to the town was as the place of enlistment. Unlike the Ballymena & District War Memorial, which covers fatalities from the Urban District and the Rural District, the memorial in Larne was designated as an Urban District Memorial. Consequently, it does not extend to war fatalities from what was the Larne Rural District. Whilst there are war memorials in some parts of the old Larne Rural District, for example in Glynn village, there is no war memorial for the fatalities from the Rural District

The memorial is the work of Frederick William Pomeroy, a prolific British sculptor of architectural and monumental works, who died in May 1924. The memorial takes the form of a cenotaph made from Portland Stone with the addition of bronze statues of a Sergeant of the British Army and a sailor of the Royal Navy. At the soldier’s feet in a German helmet. An engraved frieze runs around the upper part of the cenotaph. At the four corners are the heads of lions and on the front and rear faces there is a medallion featuring a sailing ship and the motto of Larne. On the other two faces, there are medallions on which France and Belgium are engraved.

The memorial was originally erected in the roadway at the junction of Main Street, Glenarm Road, and Curran Road. The Methodist Church was behind the memorial and the Laharna Hotel was in front of it. There were changes to the memorial even before its re-location to its current location at Inver. When the memorial was unveiled, the dedication and the names of the fallen were individual metal letters attached to the stonework. By the end of October 1925, a bronze dedication panel and two bronze panels listing the names of the fallen had been inserted into the stonework.

With the increase in motor transport, the Larne Urban District Council proposed the relocation of the memorial in 1933. Although several accidents had occurred at the busy junction, there was opposition to the relocation. The current Garden of Remembrance was purchased from Larne & Inver Parish Church by Larne Borough Council in 1973 and the war memorial was transferred in May 1975

SONY DSC

The first name recorded on the original war memorial was Robert McFerran Adams. Robert was born on 23rd June 1896 at Glynnview Avenue in Larne to Edward John Adams, a ship’s carpenter, and Ellen Jane Burns and the family later lived at Ship Street, Olderfleet, and Castle Terrace in the town. Robert McFerran Adams enlisted with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to France in October 1915. Rifleman Adams Died of Wounds on 4th June 1916 at the age of 19 and is buried in the Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension in France. Locally, he is commemorated on the memorial tablet in First Larne Presbyterian Church and on a family memorial in the graveyard of St John’s Church of Ireland in Glynn. Ellen Jane Adams was awarded a Dependant’s Pension of five shillings per week from 26th June 1917 and Edward John Adams received a War Gratuity of £17 and ten shillings in October 1919.

The last name recorded on the original war memorial was William James Weir. William was born on 30th June 1890 at Drummaul near Randalstown to William Weir and Charlotte Morgan. In 1911, the family was living at Meetinghouse Street in Larne and William was employed as a Cloth Passer. The family was recorded as belonging to the Congregational denomination. William James Weir married Nora Barr on 30th April 1915 at Larne Methodist Church and they lived at Mill Brae in Larne.  William James Weir enlisted with the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to France in October 1915. Rifleman Weir Died of Wounds on 10th August 1917, aged 27, and is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery in Belgium. His widow was awarded a Dependant’s Pension of thirteen shillings and ninepence per week from 25th February 1918 and received a War Gratuity of £13 and ten shillings in November 1919. His brother, Rifleman Matthew Weir of the same battalion and regiment, is also commemorated on the memorial. He had been discharged due to wounds in 1917 and died of Septic Pneumonia on 12th January 1919, aged 27, and is buried in the Greenland Cemetery in Larne.

A stone panel bearing the names of 72 fatalities from the Second World War was unveiled in November 1949. A second stone panel was added later to commemorate one fatality from the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960), two from the Korean War (1950 to 1953), and one for Aden (1963 to 1967).

In 2019, two obelisks were erected near the war memorial on which are recorded the names of a further 128 fatalities from the Great War. As part of the project, the original memorial was renovated, and new paving was laid around the memorial. Ironically, the original war memorial was unveiled on the anniversary of the death of one of the men included on one of the obelisks.

 

 

William Hugh McCluggage was born on 20th February 1898 at Ballyvernstown near Glynn to Robert McCluggage and Jane McDowell. He enlisted in Larne with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to France in October 1915. Signaller McCluggage was Killed in Action on 7th March 1917, aged 19, and is buried in St Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery in France. Locally, he is commemorated on the memorial tablet for Ralloo Presbyterian Church, on a family memorial in the graveyard at St John’s Church of Ireland in in Glynn, and on the War Memorial in Glynn Village. Robert McCluggage received a War Gratuity of £8 and ten shillings in October 1919.

 

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them

 

 

Limavady War Memorial Institute

The Limavady War Memorial Institute was formally opened on Thursday 2nd March 1922 by Major General Sir Oliver Nugent, who had commanded the 36th Ulster Division for much of its active service in France and Flanders. However, the story goes back to the weeks that followed the signing of the Armistice in 1918.

On 28th November 1918, a public meeting of the inhabitants of Limavady and the surrounding district determined that an institute would be the most fitting form of commemoration for the men from the district who had served in the Great War. The Institute would enable the inhabitants of the district of every class and denomination access to the benefits of a free library as well as other recreational facilities. On the night that the scheme started, £800 was promised to the subscriptions scheme – that equates to about £48,370 in current terms. A local solicitor, Mr Edward Maurice Fitzgerald Boyle of Gorteen, offered a free site for the erection of the building and the scheme received a significant financial boost when Mr George Lowry Moore, a native of the town but living at Forest Hill in London, donated £1,000 to the scheme. Due to the excessive of building materials and labour difficulties the scheme stalled until 1920. In April of that year, Major Alexander Boyle of Bridge Hill in Limavady died and his son, Edward Maurice Fitzgerald Boyle, sold the property to the War Memorial Committee for a reasonable sum and gave permission for the donated plot to be sold by the committee to fund the scheme. The process of altering the commodious mansion began and the final building, in addition to a free library, would contain reading rooms, billiard rooms, recreation rooms, and, importantly, rooms where the veterans could socialise and reminisce. On the north façade a grey granite stone recorded “War Memorial 1914-1918”. The property was vested in a Board of Trustees who were bound by their deed never to alienate the property from its original object. In the words of Mr Robert Douglas JP, Chairman of the Trustees, “Their aim was not to have an ornamental memorial, but one which would be serviceable, especially to those who had fought for them in Flanders and France”. The latter comment must have come as a surprise to the assembled veterans who had served at sea or in other theatres of the land war.

In his speech, Major General Nugent said that he had come not to be honoured but to pay a tribute to the gallant men of Limavady. He said that the record of the district was magnificent with 800 men enlisting from a population of 4,000 men, women, and children. He went on the say that 74 men had made the supreme sacrifice and that 25 of those men came from the local battalion, the 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He commended the committee on the form of the memorial, and he wished every possible happiness and prosperity to those who would use the Institute and to the people of Limavady he wished an equal measure of happiness and prosperity in a united Ireland. His speech was greeted with cheers from the people attending the ceremony.

The Honorary Treasurer of the War Memorial Committee was Lieutenant Colonel Francis Samuel Needham Macrory of Ardmore Lodge. He had been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in February 1896 and held the rank of Major with 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was deployed to France in October 1915. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in the 1917 New Year’s Honours List, was mentioned in Despatches in January 1917 and again in December 1917. He was later Chairman of the Board of Trustees and he was Commanding Officer of 1st Londonderry Battalion Ulster Home Guard during the Second World War.

The Reverend Canon Richard George Salmon King, Rector of Christ Church was appointed as Chaplain to the Ulster Division in November 1914 and accompanied the Division to France the following October. Canon Richard King relinquished his commission in November 1916 and was awarded the Military Cross in the 1917 New Year’s Honours List.

Canon King’s eldest son, Robert Andrew Ferguson Smyly King, held the rank of Lieutenant in 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he was wounded during the Battle of Le Bassee. He died of his wounds at No 7 Stationary Hospital on 23 May 1915, aged 19, and is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

In early 1919, 32 men from the Limavady District who had been taken prisoner during the war were welcomed home by Mrs Catherine Anne Swetenham Trench (nee Lecky) of Graystone Hall and entertained in the Alexander Memorial Hall. Catherine Trench’s husband, Frederick Charles Bloomfield Trench, had been killed in action on 1st July 1916 and the Trench Memorial Flute Band was named in his memory.

In January 1919, Limavady Urban District Council had applied to the Secretary for War Office for a captured German gun to be awarded to the town. Although the council had already received two trench mortars, which had been place at the Institute, the council Limavady received the first of its two War Trophy guns in July 1923, the second arriving the following month. Both guns were howitzers with a bore of 210 centimetres, the first weighed six and a half tons and the second weighed seven tons. 

On 7th May 1940, Limavady Urban District Council debated the sale of the trophy gun. Mr Campbell JP is quoted as saying, “I would certainly sell them, and send them back to Germany in another form.” The following month, Mr John Hunter, Chairman of the Council, announced that the two howitzer guns had been sold and the money raised, £21 and ten shillings, would be donated to the British Red Cross Society. The money raised from the sale of the guns would equate to approximately £1,300 in current terms.

 

On Thursday 10th October 1924, a Roll of Honour made from dark Oak was unveiled in the Institute by Major Henry Hewey Francis MacDonald-Tyler who had served with the 9th Gurkha Rifle during the Great War and made a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire. The dedicatory panel reads, “Limavady and District War Memorial, to commemorate alike the brave sons of this district who died fighting for their country, and the gallant survivors who shared their dangers, toils, and sufferings; to show honour to the dead and gratitude to the living by a memorial whose object is to imbue successive generations with the same love of country and sense of duty, and to forge, by the memory of valour and self-devotion, a fresh bond of union and friendship among all who dwell in this district.”

In the late 1920s, a Celtic Cross was erected at the Institute and this became the focal point for Armistice Remembrance and the Limavady Branch of the British Legion received permission to use, free of charge, a Billiard Room and an Ante Room for meetings.

On 28th March 1972, a car bomb exploded outside Limavady RUC Station and caused significant damage to the War Memorial Institute, which was subsequently demolished. The Limavady and District Roll of Honour Boards were moved to the Town Hall and an additional panel of names was added. The Roll of Honour Boards were recently installed in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre and were unveiled on Tuesday 1st March 2022.

The Celtic Cross that had been erected at the Institute was incorporated into a new War Memorial which was unveiled in 2002 and incorporates panels naming those from the district who died in the two world wars, the Korean War, and during Operation Banner in Northern Ireland.

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them

 

Centenary of the Holywood and District War Memorial

Centenary of the Holywood and District War Memorial

Wreath Ceremony 1922

Model (Belfast Telegraph Aug 1919)

On Saturday 28th January 1922, the Holywood & District War Memorial was unveiled.

The decision to proceed with the erection of a war memorial to commemorate fatalities from Holywood and District was taken at the Town Hall on 15th August 1919. Mr Leonard Stanford Merrifield of Chelsea provided a model of the memorial. In 1919, 150 subscribers had promised £725 and it was thought that the total cost would be £900, which equates to £47,500 in current terms.

The memorial was erected on a parcel of open ground between Holywood Railway Station and Holywood Orange Hall. The plot had been purchased for this purpose by Mr David Alfred Fee JP, who donated the plot to Holywood Urban District Council.

Site Preparation (Belfast Telegraph Nov 1921)

Site preparation work commenced in November 1921. The rugged Portland Stone base of the memorial was nine feet and six inches tall and the bronze statue of the soldier in full war kit in “On Guard” position was six feet high.

Dedication Panel

Company Quartermaster Sergeant Wilmot Webster, Commandant of the Holywood Branch British Legion, read out the names of the 109 men commemorated on the memorial, the announcement of each name being followed by a muffled drumbeat. Wilmot Webster of High Street in Holywood was a 42-year-old married man with three children when he enlisted with the 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers on 14th November 1914. He held the rank of Acting Quartermaster Sergeant when he was deployed to France with 16th (Irish) Division in December 1915.

Extra Name (S Patterson)

He was serving with the Labour Corps when he was transferred to the Class Z Army Reserve on 10th April 1919. He subsequently received a pension for deafness attributable to his war service and rheumatism and arthritis aggravated by war service. He died on 1st January 1926, aged 52, and is buried in Holywood Cemetery.

An additional name was added in 2011. Samuel Potter, who served as Patterson, was killed in action on 14th September 1914 during the Battle of Aisne whilst serving with 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers. Amongst the names commemorated are a recipient of the Victoria Cross, three men awarded the Military Cross and two men awarded the Military Medal.

George Malcolm Dunlop

The memorial was unveiled by Mrs Bessie Dunlop of St Helen’s in Holywood, the widow of Dr Archibald Dunlop. She said, “I feel honoured in being asked to unveil this beautiful and striking monument, erected to the memory of our fellow-townsmen, who gave their lived for King and Country. I am one of those who suffered a double loss among them. I think my eldest son was, of those we commemorate today, the very first to fall.”

John Gunning Moore Dunlop was born on 14 December 1885 and received his commission from Cambridge University Officers Training Corps in September 1910. He was gazetted to the Special Reserve of Officers for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in June 1911. He was deployed to France with 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, disembarking at Boulogne on 22nd August 1914. He was Killed in Action five days later near Clary during the Battle of Mons at the age of 28.

George Malcolm Dunlop was born on 13th January 1889, received a commission with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1909, and held the rank of Captain in December 1914. He was killed in action with 1st Battalion at the age of 26 during the calamitous landing at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25th April 1915.

Mary Elliott laying Holywood wreath

The Public Wreath was laid by Mrs Mary Elliott of Sullivan Street who lost three sons in the Great War.

Private William Robert Elliott was serving with 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed on 26th August 1914 during the retreat from Mons at the age of 32.

Lance Corporal Joshua Elliott was serving with 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles when he was killed by shell-fire during heavy enemy bombardment on 4th August 1917, at the age of 30.

Sergeant Francis James Elliott was serving with 2n Battalion Royal Irish Rifles when he died of wounds on 7th August 1917 at the age of 28.

Holywood War Memorial (Belfast Weekly Telegraph, Feb 1922)

The Dunlop brothers and the Elliott brothers are also commemorated on the memorial tablet in Holywood Parish Church.

David Alfred Fee, Chairman of Holywood Urban District, said,

“I have the melancholy pleasure of accepting, on their behalf, as custodians of the ratepayers, the statue just now unveiled, which will remind future generations of the heroic deeds of the gallant sons of Ulster who went out voluntarily in response to their country’s call to fight in the spirit of their forefathers for liberty and freedom”.

David Alexander Fee was to suffer personal loss in the Second World War when his son, Lieutenant Thomas Hugh Cecil Hickland Fee, Royal Naval Reserve, was Killed in Action on 23rd November 1939, aged 28, whilst serving on HMS Rawalpindi.

HMS Rawalpindi

Holywood Trophy Gun (Larne Times, July 1924)

From July 1924, the memorial was flanked by two German guns that had been awarded to Holywood as war trophies.

From examining old newspaper images and postcards, the memorial has been moved twice in the past 100 years. It was originally position in the middle of the square closer to the Orange Hall and protected from traffic by railings. Later, four sturdy stone bases were set in place to support light fittings. Later still, the memorial was moved closer to the shoreline and there was talk of turning it around so that the people attending on Remembrance Sunday would not be facing the back of the memorial.

Holywood War Memorial

There was local opposition to this as the soldier was deemed to be protecting the town from seaborne attack. In recent years, the memorial was moved to its current position and the rugged Portland Stone base replaced by a dressed stone base.


Holywood War Memorial

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

 

We will remember them.

 

 

 

 

Nigel Henderson

History Hub Ulster Researcher

Dedication dates of civic War Memorials in Northern Ireland

Ballymena & District War Memorial

This is a list of the dedication dates of civic War Memorials in Northern Ireland.

With many centenaries coming up, MPs, MLAs, Councillors and the public may wish to consider how they commemorate the men and women remembered on these memorials.

[List compiled by Nigel Henderson, Researcher, History Hub Ulster].

 

County Town Dedication Date
Antrim Dervock 23/12/1920
Down Dollingstown 29/01/1921
Down Greyabbey 02/04/1921
Down Moira 09/04/1921
Down Gilford 18/06/1921
Tyrone Coagh 16/07/1921
Antrim Hilden 29/10/1921
Antrim Bushmills 05/11/1921
Antrim Glynn 13/11/1921
Londonderry Aghadowey 14/11/1921
Antrim Galgorm 27/11/1921
Down Waringstown 17/12/1921
Down Holywood 28/01/1922
Londonderry Limavady 02/03/1922
Antrim Larne 07/03/1922
Down Hillsborough 13/05/1922
Antrim Crumlin 08/07/1922
Tyrone Clogher 14/09/1922
Londonderry Moneymore 12/10/1922
Down Ballywalter 25/10/1922
Fermanagh County Fermanagh War Memorial (Enniskillen) 25/10/1922
Londonderry Coleraine 10/11/1922
Antrim Portrush 11/11/1922
Tyrone Dungannon 11/11/1922
Down Comber 14/04/1923
Antrim Lisburn 28/04/1923
Down Donacloney 21/07/1923
Londonderry Garvagh 27/03/1924
Down Killyleagh 19/06/1924
Antrim Ballinderry 07/11/1924
Antrim Ballymena 11/11/1924
Londonderry Portstewart 11/11/1924
Tyrone Moy 11/11/1924
Down Groomsport 27/12/1924
Armagh Tandragee 13/04/1925
Londonderry Kilrea 01/07/1925
Down Downpatrick 05/11/1925
Armagh Portadown 13/11/1925
Tyrone Stewartstown 08/04/1926
Down Donaghadee 01/07/1926
Down Dromore 19/09/1926
Armagh Armagh City 03/12/1926
Tyrone Cookstown 18/04/1927
Down Bangor 24/05/1927
Belfast St Anne’s Cathedral Victory Memorial 01/06/1927
Londonderry Londonderry 23/06/1927
Antrim Whiteabbey (BL War Memorial Hall) 20/08/1927
Tyrone County Tyrone War Memorial (Omagh) 28/09/1927
Armagh Lurgan 23/05/1928
Antrim Ballycastle 11/11/1928
Londonderry Castledawson 30/06/1929
Belfast Belfast War Memorial 11/11/1929
Belfast Cregagh 10/11/1929
Antrim Ballyclare 09/11/1930
Down Newtownards 25/05/1934
Armagh Bessbrook 07/07/1934
Down Ballynahinch 11/11/1934
Down Banbridge War Memorial 11/11/1934
Down Banbridge Roll of Honour 11/11/1934
Antrim County Antrim War Memorial (Knockagh) 1937
Antrim Glenavy c1920
Antrim Stranocum By April 1920
Donegal Pettigo Not known
Down Castlewellan & Annsborough Not known
Down Newcastle Not known
Down Newry Sept/Oct 1939
Tyrone Castlederg 1938/39

 

Hilden, Glenmore & Lambeg War Memorial

Hilden, Glenmore and Lambeg War Memorial 

Researched by Nigel Henderson, with input from John McCormick

On Saturday 29th October 1921, a monument commemorating the men from the Hilden, Glenmore, and Lambeg areas who died in the Great War was unveiled by Mrs Anna Barbour OBE JP.

Belfast News-Letter – 31 October 1921

The monument was designed by Blackwood & Jury (Civil Engineers Architects of 41 Donegall Place, Belfast) and was built by Robert McHenry at the junction of Low Road and Mill Street on a plot of land donated by Richardson, Sons & Owden Limited of Donegall Square North, Belfast. The hexagonal monument with a domed top is built of Portland stone and is thirteen feet and six inches tall. Three of the faces are buttresses with moulded caps and bases. The other three faces are recessed and contain bronze plaques naming 117 fatalities.

Belfast Telegraph -1 November 1921

Research facilitated by History Hub Ulster has identified details for 110 of the men named on the memorial.

The first fatality belonged to the Royal Marine Light Infantry. James Holmes was born on 6th May 1896 at Low Road to Thomas Holmes and Annie Harvey. James enlisted on 31st August 1914 but died of Cerebrospinal Meningitis on 2nd March 1915, at the aged of 19, and is buried in the Portland Royal Naval Cemetery in England.

The last fatality was from one of the area’s leading families, the Ewarts of Derryvolgie House. William Basil Ewart was born on 25th September 1890 at Glenmachan House to Frederick William Ewart and Mary Anne Elizabeth Valentine. Major Ewart was deployed to France with the Royal Irish Rifles in October 1915. He married Rebe Annette Grindle on 31st July 1917 and was invalided out of army service in November. He died of Chronic Nephritis at Derryvolgie House on 13th February 1920, ages 29, and is buried in the historic Clifton Street Graveyard in Belfast. His brother, Captain Cecil Frederick Kelso Ewart, Royal Irish Rifles, was Killed in Action on 1st July 1916, aged 28, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

The youngest fatality was only 17 years old. Rifleman David Martin, Royal Irish Rifles, was Killed in Action on 17th June 1916 and is buried in Authuile Military Cemetery in France. He was born on 27th April 1899 at Ballynahinch Road to David Martin and Annie Singleton.

The oldest fatality was 48 years old. Private William Neill, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was Killed in Action on 21st August 1915 and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula and at Lambeg Parish Church. He was born on 24th May 1867 at Ballyskeagh to John Neill and Jane McDermott and was married to Margaret Shields of Sandymount, Ballyskeagh.

Research to date shows that four men died after being taken prisoner by the Germans. Rifleman James Coburn served with the Royal Irish Rifles. He was reported missing during the Battle of St Quentin in March 1918, and it was confirmed that he was a prisoner of war two months later. He died in captivity on 14th October 1918, aged 20, and is buried in the Belgrade Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated on a family memorial in Lisburn Cemetery.

He was born on 12th December 1897 at Hillsborough to David Coburn and Emma Livingston who later lived at Wilson Street.

As one might expect from the locality, the majority of the fatalities came from the Protestant community but there are at least eighteen Roman Catholics commemorated on the memorial. Rifleman Robert Costello was deployed to the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles on the Western Front in January 1915 and was awarded the Military Medal in 1917. He died of Wounds at the Bath War Hospital on 14th January 1918, aged 28, and is buried in Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Cemetery in Lisburn. He was born on 24th August 1890 at Low Road to James Costello and Mary Grimley. A brother, Private Samuel Costello, served with the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Irish Regiment. He was discharged on 25th February 1919 and was allocated one of the twelve Ex-Servicemen’s Cottages built on Wallace Avenue in 1930.

 

Linen Families associated with Hilden War Memorial

Researched by Richard Graham

Hilden War Memorial is located on a traffic island bounded by Grand Street and Mill Street. The land for the memorial, in the form of an obelisk, was given to commemorate men from the Hilden, Glenmore and Lambeg area who died in the slaughter of the First World War (1914-18). The monument was designed by Percy Morgan Jury, a leading architect practising in Belfast, and a son of W J Jury, a Belfast Whiskey magnate and founder of Jury’s Hotels.

RHS Richardson

The land was gifted to the people of the area by the Richardson family, leading linen bleachers and manufacturers in the area and descendants from a Quaker family who settled in Ireland at Lisburn in the early 1700s. The Richardsons owned three linen production plants in the area: The Island Spinning Co (now LCCC Headquarters) Millbrook Bleachworks (now housing) and The Glenmore Bleachworks one of the largest of its type in Ireland. The family lived at two large estates in the Lambeg area: Glenmore House (now apartments) and Aberdelgy (now a Golf Course).

But it was to another leading employer in the area, that the unveiling ceremony was entrusted – that of the Barbour family of Hilden Mill.

Hilden Mill 

The War Memorial was officially unveiled on the morning of Saturday 29th October 1921 by Mrs Anna E Barbour, OBE, the American born wife of Harold Barbour – they lived at Strathearne, Dunmurry, now Hunterhouse College. They were in fact first cousins, her father having been born at The Fort, now Fort Hill College, before moving to America.

Anna E Barbour 1876-1941

The platform party also comprised members of several other leading linen families of the area: John McCance of Suffolk House (now Colin Glen Regional Park); Malcolm Gordon (manager of Hilden Mill) of Clonmore, Lambeg (latterly a community and arts facility); Frederick W Ewart, of the enormously successful Ewarts linen dynasty, who lived at nearby Derryvolgie House (latterly the divisional HQ of the Water Service and Mrs Emily Reade, whose husband was a director of the York Street Flax Spinning Co, and who had before her marriage been a Charley of Seymour Hill.

Elsie Milne Barbour

It commemorated the lives of 117 men from the local area who lost their lives in the Great War, aged from just 17 years to 48 years old – 55 of whom have no known place of burial.

Just a few yards from the War Memorial, there is a beautiful children’s park with an interesting stone inscribed E M B Memorial Park … but who was E M B?

Sir Milne Barbour – 1 Jan 1900

Elsie Milne Barbour was the wife of Sir J Milne Barbour of Conway House, Dunmurry (latterly an hotel) the Chairman of Hilden Mill. Sadly, Elsie Barbour died during the birth of her third child, Elizabeth, in 1910 at the age of only 37 years old. In her memory, Sir Milne Barbour gave the land for the playground for local children and also built the EMB Memorial Hall which stood opposite the War Memorial until 2000.

The Barbour’s only son, John Milne Barbour, also died young in an air crash whilst flying a private plane from a Barbour plant in Scotland to Conway in 1937 at the age of 30.

EMB Memorial Hall

So, that is the story behind two of Hilden’s memorials to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the tragedy of the owning family of one of the largest linen thread factories in the world.

Hilden War Memorial

Belfast Banking Company, Bushmills, Co. Antrim

Whilst undertaking research into the Northern Bank in Bushmills, I came across a sad tale about the first branch manager of the Belfast Bank branch in that small village. In 1870, Thomas McComb (32) had been working in the Belfast Bank, Coleraine branch as Accountant and Cashier for 13 years when he was appointed Manager of their Bushmills Agency. He was widely respected in the town. This article presents the sad story of Thomas McComb through newspaper clippings and photographs.

Download pdf

Northern Banking Company, Cushendall, Co. Antrim

An old envelope addressed to ‘J Wilson, Manager, Northern Bank, Cushendall’ and postmarked ‘Dublin 19, 14th March 1879’ was recently discovered in an internet search. What is the story of this bank branch in the small County Antrim village of Cushendall? This article presents the history of the building through newspaper clippings and photographs.

Download pdf