Belfast Banking Company Limited – Branch Study Report

Belfast Banking Company Limited – Branch Study Report

Gavin Bamford, Chair, History Hub Ulster writes:

My interest in old bank buildings is primarily about the former Belfast Banking Company Limited (BBCo) branches in Ireland and the area later known as Northern Ireland. The BBCo was formed in 1827 and was merged in 1970 with Northern Bank. Its southern branches were sold to the Royal Bank of Ireland in 1923.

I was lucky to find an old BBCo Property Portfolio album in the Northern Bank archives a few years ago and have made it into this short video.  

Watch Video

The viewer will see around 68 branch photographs and will perhaps recall in their memory if the building still exists as a bank branch or now has another use. Thankfully many of the buildings in the video are in the latter category. Some (3), regrettably may be considered to be ‘at risk’ from developers e.g.: Waring Street (opened 1827), Mill Street, Ballymena (1834) and the older Magherafelt premises (1835).

Sadly, 16 of the buildings have been demolished and replaced by modern builds. These buildings include the former branches in Cookstown (opened 1835), Monaghan (1835), Portadown (1835), Strabane (1835), Larne (1836), Crossmaglen (1873), Shankill Road (1898), Kingstown (1908), Pettigo (1914), Aughnacloy (1917), Banbridge (1917), Downpatrick (1917), Kilrea (1917), Omagh (1917), Lisburn (1919) and Duncairn Gardens (1932).

Only 1 of the 68 BBCo buildings is still in use as a Northern Bank (t/a Danske Bank) branch; that is Ballymoney (1834). A few of the former southern branches may still be in operation as an AIB branch. 

To conclude this short study of former Belfast Bank branch buildings, from 68 in their property portfolio, only 1 remains as a branch, 16 have been demolished, 3 are ‘at risk’ and the remaining 48 continue in another use e.g., retail, other bank, tourist office or hospitality.

Three Towns, Three Counties, Three War Memorials

Three civic war memorials were unveiled on Saturday 11th November 1922 at towns in counties Londonderry, Antrim, and Tyrone.

Portrush War Memorial

The nine feet nine inch tall pedestal of Irish limestone is surmounted by a seven feet and six inches bronze figure of Victory, with inverted sword in her right hand and a palm branch in her left hand. The monument was designed by Sir George James Frampton and the bronze figure was sculpted by Frank Ransom, both of whom were from London. The monument was constructed by William Kirkpatrick Limited and unveiled by Lady Macnaghten who had lost two sons within three months during the war.

Second Lieutenant Sir Edward Harry MacNaghten of 1st Battalion Black Watch was killed in action on 1st July 1916 at the age of 20 whilst attached to 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Second Lieutenant Sir Arthur Douglas MacNaghten was killed in action on 15th September 1916 at the age of 19 whilst serving with 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade.

Sir James Craig presided over the ceremony and in his speech, he stated that 300 men from Portrush’s population of 3,000 had enlisted with the Ulster Division and that the Spirit of Ulster had carried those men through the most appalling time. There was no reference to the men who served and died with other units of the British, Dominion, and Empire forces. The names of the fallen were read by Captain Sydney James Lyle who had served with the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and 6th Divisional Train of the Royal Army Service Corps, being awarded the Military Cross. The memorial was dedicated by the Reverend James Gilbert Paton of Malone Presbyterian Church and formerly of Terrace Row Presbyterian Church in Coleraine. He had served as a Chaplain in the Ulster Division, being attached to the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and was awarded the Military Cross with two Bars.

The bronze dedicatory plaque on the front face of the pedestal features a relief engraving depicting a seascape with three battleships and is surmounted by a victor’s laurel wreath. As can be seen from the two images, a different style of wreath in a slightly different position now adorns the memorial. The other three faces of the memorial now have bronze plaques recording the names of the Great War fatalities, but these plaques were not present when the memorial was unveiled. It is possible that the names of the fallen were originally engraved on the faces of the pedestal.

The memorial was erected at a cost of £1,300, which equates to approximately £57,200 in current terms.

Jesse Edgar was born on 28th December 1887 to James Edgar and Margaret Edgar (nee Forsythe) who farmed land at Islandmore townland. He was employed as a Policeman in Christchurch when he enlisted on 23rd August 1915 and was posted to the New Zealand Provost Corps. He was attached to the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment when it arrived at the Suez Canal in December 1915. He left Port Said for France in April 1916 and was transferred to the Mounted Military Police in October 1916. He was attached to the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment with the rank of Corporal when he sustained wounds to the head and abdomen and died at Number 29 Casualty Clearing Station on 27th April 1918. Jesse Edgar was 30 years old and is buried in Bagneux British Cemetery at Gezaincourt in France. Locally, he is also commemorated on a family memorial in Ballywillan Old Cemetery and on the memorial tablet in Ballywillan Presbyterian Church.

Coleraine War Memorial

After participating in the ceremony in Portrush, Sir James Craig and the Reverend James Gilbert Paton travelled a few miles south-west to unveil and dedicate the war memorial in Coleraine. In his opening remarks, Mr Daniel Hill Christie, Chairman of the Coleraine Urban District Council, said that Coleraine had contributed 1000 men, almost 13% of the entire population, to the forces of the Crown and this “record of patriotic duty was unsurpassed in the United Kingdom”. However, numerous other towns in Ulster made similar claims, including Ballymena and Lurgan. Mr Christie went on to report that 169 men gave their lives in the discharge of their duty. The memorial was dedicated by the Reverend James Gilbert Paton and the names of the fatalities were read out by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Sinclair Knox, formerly of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The names of the fallen were engraved on the faces of the pedestal and, at a later date, replaced with the current bronze tablets. Captain Knox was one of only seven officers from British, Dominion, and Empire forces to be awarded the Distinguished Service Order four times during the Great War.

The memorial is twenty-one feet and six inches high and features a bronze statue of a soldier in full battle uniform and wearing a cape with his rifle grounded. The statue is mounted on a pedestal of Portland stone and which features a bronze figure of Victory holding a laurel wreath above her head. The plinth is made from Irish granite and the memorial was designed by Frederick William Pomeroy and cost £1,800, which equates to approximately £79,230 in current terms.

Robert Wallace Gilmour was born on 1st July 1885 at The Diamond in Coleraine where William Gilmour and Margaret Johnston Gilmour (nee Wallace) had a jewellery and watch-making business. Before the war, Robert Gilmour was employed as a Cashier in the Ulster Bank’s Pembroke branch in Dublin. He enlisted with the Connaught Rangers but was transferred to the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps and was commissioned into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in December 1916. He was posted to 9th Battalion in France on 21st February 1917 and sustained gunshot wounds to the leg during the Battle of Messines. After a period of recuperation at home, Second Lieutenant Robert Wallace Gilmour returned to the Western Front and was Killed in Action during the German Spring Offensive in March 1918. He was 32 years of age and has no known grave, being commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial in France. Locally, he is commemorated on a family memorial in Coleraine Cemetery and on the memorial tablets for New Row Presbyterian Church in Coleraine and the Ulster Bank in Belfast.

Dungannon War Memorial








The memorial, which is eighteen feet and six inches high, was designed by Frederick William Pomeroy and constructed by R Patton & Sons. It was erected at a cost of £1,700, which is approximately £74,800 in current terms. The memorial was unveiled by Constance Elizabeth Knox, Countess of Ranfurly, whose only son, Captain Thomas Uchter Knox, Viscount Northland, had been killed in action on 1st February 1915 whilst serving with the 11th Battalion Coldstream Guards. Brigadier-General Ambrose Ricardo gave the eulogy, and the names of the fallen were read out by Doctor Frederick Clark Mann, Chairman of Dungannon War Memorial Committee.

The memorial features a bronze statue of an army Sergeant in full battle uniform, holding a grounded rifle in his left hand and a standard in his right hand. The statue is eight feet and six inches high and is mounted on a pedestal of Stancliffe stone which sits on a granite plinth. The bronze dedicatory panel on the lower portion of the pedestal features a laurel wreath and palm fronds. The four faces of the pedestal bear bronze panels on which names of the fallen are recorded, with the fatalities from the Royal Inniskillings Fusiliers being listed first.

Three females are commemorated on the memorial – Staff Nurse Emily Gray of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, Alicia Watt of the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and Nurse Frances Emma Shortt of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Frances Shortt was only added to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database in recent years and a CWGC headstone was installed in the graveyard at Tullanisken Parish Church in Newmills in October 2022. The recognition of Nurse Shortt as an official war fatality was largely due the efforts of Kenneth Farquhar of Dungannon.
Frances Emma Shortt was born on 22nd April 1864 at Curran near Dungannon to Hugh Shortt and Elizabeth Short (nee Simpson). Hugh Shortt died on 2nd March 1892 and Elizabeth married John Greenhalgh on 2nd February 1898. In 1901, Frances and her sister Harriet were living at Market House Street in Limavady and were recorded as being drapers. In 1911, Harriet was living with her mother and step-father at Curran and Frances was lodging with the Erskine family at High Street West in Sligo, and was a Milliner in Joseph Erskine’s drapery business. Frances Shortt volunteered for war service as a Nurse on 9th August 1918, her age being recorded as 31. Nurse Frances Shortt died at the Bermondsey Military Hospital in Lewisham on 26th December 1918, aged 54 in lay in an unmarked grave for nearly 104 years.

County Fermanagh War Memorial

County Fermanagh War Memorial

By Nigel Henderson

In April 1919, John Ernest Francis Collum, Lord Lieutenant for County Fermanagh, convened a public meeting in Enniskillen Town Hall on 10th April 1919 to discuss the provision of a public memorial to commemorate the men from County Fermanagh who gave their lives in the Great War. An Executive Committee was formed and subscriptions were invited from the public. In the following months and years, Honorary Secretary, Mr William Copeland Trimble who owned the Imperial Reporter, published lists of the subscriptions to the Fermanagh War Memorial Appeal. In June 1920, a meeting of the subscribers was held to determine the form of the memorial. Colonel Richardson, seconded by Dr. Fitzgerald proposed,

That suitable Memorial Tablets be erected in a Public Place in Enniskillen, and that the balance be given towards the County Hospital to augment the Improvement Fund.”

Although this proposal was supported by the subscribers at the well-attended meeting, the Fermanagh Times published a series of letters raising objections to the form that the memorial would take. In July, the Executive Committee announced that formal objections to the proposed plans could be submitted. In September 1920, the decisions made at the June 1920 meeting were rescinded at special meeting of the subscribers.

In December 1920, the Fermanagh War Memorial Committee examined several designs and selected two designs for consideration by the subscribers – both featured statues of soldiers, one on a Portland stone pedestal and one on a rough granite pedestal. A meeting of the subscribers later in the month selected the design that had been submitted by Messrs. Gafflin of the Carrara Marble Works in London. This design featured a white Portland stone pedestal, reached by three steps, and surmounted by a life-size bronze statue of a soldier in full Great War uniform, in a reverent posture with reversed arms. The whole monument was to be 20 feet in height and would cost £1,600 – which equates to just over £70,000 in current terms.

In October 1921, the War Memorial Committee reported that 574 names of fatalities had been gathered and that it expected that the list would exceed 600 names. The committee invited the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, being the highest state official and the King’s personal representative on the island of Ireland, to unveil the war memorial. The unveiling ceremony was scheduled to take place at 12:40 on Wednesday 25th October 1922 as part of a Vice-Regal Visit to Northern Ireland.

On that date, Edmund Bernard FitzAlan-Howard, 1st Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent, travelled from Belfast to Enniskillen, accompanied by Sir James Craig, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Mr A W G Ritchie, Town Clerk, read the council’s address to the Lord Lieutenant, which included these words, “As in that war [the Second Boer War], so in the Great War, the unflinching courage and unconquerable spirit of the Fermanagh men, not alone in the Inniskilling Regiments, but also in the many other branches of His Majesty’s forces in which they served, earned for them undying glory; and the names of the men emblazoned on the memorial which your Excellency will today unveil will live forever in our hearts and memories.”

The front face of the pedestal bore the insignia of the Inniskilling regiments, bronze crossed rifles, and the inscription “Our Glorious Dead 1914-1918″. The Fermanagh Times reported that the names inscribed on the sides “total about six hundred and fifty, and represented practically every unit in His Majesty’s Forces“. The names are ordered by Service, then Rank, and then Alphabetically. The first names belong to two Royal Navy Sub-Lieutenants followed by fatalities from the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, other Irish Regiments, other units of the British Expeditionary Force, and, finally, the Dominion and Indian forces. The Enniskillen Urban District Council took over responsibility for the war memorial in December 1922.

Twenty of the men named on the memorial were awarded British gallantry awards. Three were recipients of the Victoria Cross, five received the Distinguished Service Order (with a Bar being awarded to one man), two were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, five men were awarded the Military Cross (two of them also being awarded Bars), and eight men received the Military Medal. The highest decorated man on the memorial was Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Annesley West who was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order (with Bar), the Military Cross, and was Mentioned in Despatches on two occasions. 

Richard Annesley West was born on 26th September 1878 at Oxford Street in Cheltenham to Augustus George West and Sara West nee Eyre and the family was living at Tullynagowan near Brookborough by 1901. On 8th January 1900, Richard West enlisted at Newbridge with the 45th Company, Imperial Yeomanry (also known as the Irish Hunt Squadron) and served in the Boer War from 13th March 1900 to 4th March 1901, seeing action at Lindley, Dewetsdorp and Riddesberg. After being discharged, he returned to South Africa where he married Maud Ethel Cushing on 16th July 1909. On the outbreak of war, Richard West sought a commission in the North Irish Horse but, as the War Office had not approved his commission, he enlisted as a Trooper and sailed for France with C Squadron on 20th August 1914. His commission, backdated to 11th August, was confirmed in September 1914 and he was later attached to the North Somerset Yeomanry and Tank Corps. Richard West commanded B Squadron of the North Somerset Yeomanry during the Battle of Arras and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his actions on 11th April 1917: “His squadron was sent forward to reinforce the right flank of the Brigade under very heavy shell and machine-gun fire. By his excellent example, rapid grasp of the situation and skilful disposition of his squadron, he did much to avert an impending counter-attack. He had shown great ability in command since July 1915“. Richard West was subsequently attached to the Tank Corps and was wounded on 9th August 1918 whilst commanding a company of Whippet tanks in the fighting east of Villers-Bretonneux. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions that day: “For conspicuous gallantry and good leadership. He commanded a company of light Tanks with great skill. He had two horses shot under him during the day, and he and his orderly killed five of the enemy and took seven prisoners. He rendered great services to the cavalry by his personal reconnaissances, and later in the day, under heavy machine-gun fire, he rallied the crews of disabled Tanks and withdrew them with great skill. He set a splendid example of courage and devotion to duty throughout the operations.” 

Richard West was awarded the Bar to his DSO for his actions on 21st August 1918 at Courcelles: “For conspicuous gallantry during an attack. In addition to directing his tanks, he rallied and led forward small bodies of infantry lost in the mist, showing throughout a splendid example of leadership and a total disregard of personal safety, and materially contributed to the success of the operations. He commanded the battalion most of the time, his C.O. had being early killed.” Lieutenant-Colonel 

Richard Annesley West was commanding 6th Battalion Tank Corps when he was Killed in Action on 2nd September 1918 at the age of 40 and is buried in Mory Abbey Military Cemetery. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his action on the day that he died: “On 2 September at Vaulx-Vraucourt, he arrived at the front line when the enemy were delivering a local counter-attack. The infantry battalion had suffered heavy officer casualties and realizing the danger if they gave way, and despite the enemy being almost upon them, Colonel West rode up and down in face of certain death, encouraging the men. He fell, riddled with bullets. His magnificent bravery at a critical moment so inspired the infantry that the hostile attack was defeated.” The Cheltenham Civic Society erected a blue plaque at the house where he was born.

There was one woman recorded on the war memorial when it was unveiled – Marion Georgina Graham from Lisnaskea. She was born on 9th February 1880 at Casson in the Lisbellaw sub-district to Noble Graham and Dinah Noble (nee Carter) who farmed 53 acres of land at Drummack near Lisnaskea. Marion went into nursing and worked at the Meath Hospital in Dublin before joining the Colonial Nursing Service. She was posted to Nigeria on 27th August 1914 and had a period of home leave between October 1915 and February 1916. Marion was allowed a further period of home leave in 1917 and set sail from Lagos onboard SS Abosso, which was carrying passengers, mail and 3,500 tons of West African produce to Liverpool. SS Abosso, which had been constructed at Harland and Wolff in 1912, was torpedoed and sunk 180 miles from Fastnet by German submarine U-43 on the 24th April 1917. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates 25 crewmen and a Royal Navy seaman but does not commemorate the civilian passengers who died, including Marion Graham.

Dalchoolin: A history by Richard Graham


…. A history by Richard Graham

The house, its location and the people who lived there …

The Dalchoolin estate extended from the Belfast Road at Cultra to the County Down shores of Belfast Lough the house of which was undoubtably one of the finest and most unique properties on the Co. Down Coastline in the 19th century.


The original house on the site, a much plainer property than that pictured, was known as Wellington or Wellington Lodge and stood on land leased from the Kennedy family of nearby Cultra Manor (now the Ulster Folk Museum) under ownership of the Earl of Clanbrassil. The first lease was granted in 1815 to William Crawford (1801 – 1872) of nearby Crawfordsburn. He was the 4th son of Captain Arthur Crawford who resided on Donegall Place when it was still residential but who later moved to Bloomfield House on the Co. Down side of the town of Belfast. Arthur made his fortune as an adventurer in the army of the Honourable East India Company reaching the rank of Captain. He was also a Major in the Bangor Regiment of Volunteers and a member of the prestigious First Presbyterian Church on Rosemary Street. It was at Dooneen on Donegall Place, that William was born.

William Crawford studied law becoming a leading solicitor with practices in both Belfast (Arthur Street) and Dame Street in Dublin. The practice of Crawford, Lockhart, Black still survives on Linenhall Street to this day. It was from the success achieved in this profession that he was able to purchase outright Wellington Lodge from the Kennedy estate in 1847. William married Jane Cairns, one of the most eligible beauties of the day and daughter of William Cairns of Parkmount Estate on the Shore Road leading from Belfast to Carrickfergus. This was a shrewd move on Crawford’s part, as not only did the marriage bring him increased status, but also a generous dowry with which he could build a new house.

William Cairns was a captain in the 47th Regiment coming from a family of Scottish origin and settling in Ireland in 1715. His son, and Jane’s brother, Hugh McCalmont Cairns (left) was also called to the bar and worked his way up to become Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, becoming Earl Cairns and Viscount Garmoyle in 1878. His legacy on the legal structure of the United Kingdom was substantial.

With his position in Ulster society secured, William Crawford set about enlarging the original property, transforming it into a Picturesque Tudor Revival Manor House and renaming it Dalchoolin, in recognition of his Scottish roots, his great grandfather (also William) having purchased the estate of Crawfordsburn from Lord Clanbrassil upon his arrival in Ireland in 1670.

Cultra had been sparsely populated until the mid-1800s, but it was the opening of the Belfast & Holywood Railway in 1865 which created the desire to develop the area for superior housing. This development was very much down to the ambitions of the Kennedy family of Cultra Manor. The railway passed through the Dalchoolin estate with access to the house being by a rather attractive bridge over the new single track.

Dalchoolin had two substantial gate lodges at the entrances to the estate. The north lodge existed from the time of the original Wellington Lodge with the south lodge being added later around 1855, when William Crawford altered the house. The second lodge was a single story three bay structure with serrated timber bargeboards and would play an integral part in the running of the estate for over 100 years.

In 1867, Crawford sold Dalchoolin and its estate to James Moore (1811- 1884) who around 1870 extended the property even further adding to it several additions which realised its final eccentric manifestation!

Moore was a director of the Belfast Banking Company, where he served on the board of superintendence, along with other leading merchants of the town of Belfast, including Arthur Sharman Crawford of Crawfordsburn. He also served as a magistrate (JP) for Co. Down.

He was partner in the linen firm of Moore & Weinberg, since its establishment in Belfast in 1855, but unlike the Belfast Bank he didn’t actively manage the business. The company had a magnificent linen warehouse on Linenhall Street (right) but what is more interesting is that the company’s original premises were located on Donegall Square North, in the building which now houses the Linenhall Library!

A Conservative in politics, Moore was somewhat different to his contemporaries in that he maintained an unobtrusive profile in public life, having membership of the Unitarian church in Holywood and supporting the Children’s Hospital, just one of his charitable works

Moore did however move in the highest of social circles – his daughter marrying Alfred Chenevis Trench, the son of the Archbishop of Dublin.

Moore’s architect is not recorded, but is possibly John Miller who carried out similar work in the area, influenced no doubt by Ormeau House, the 19th century home of the Marquess of Donegall, before that family removed to Belfast Castle on the slopes of Cave Hill.

Dalchoolin as seen in this later photograph, was 1 ½ to 2 stories high in stucco and stone with distinctive mullioned windows. Its roofline was defined by a multiplicity of gables and finials, with an amazing array of ‘barley twist’ chimney pots.

An ogee-domed octagonal turret was added by Moore in an attempt to unify the ‘chaos’ of the two designs, as well as signposting the entrance porch, again designed in Tudor fancy dress – buttressed, pinnacled and crenelated!

James Moore died rather suddenly on the evening of Thursday 16th October 1884 following his attendance at a meeting of the Belfast Bank, where he suffered a severe attack of gout (too much port!) after which his widow Eliza lived on at Dalchoolin until her death in 1895.

The estate was then purchased by Edwin Hughes, who’s family would reside there for the next 70 years. The Hughes family were wealthy landowners in Ireland with Thomas Hughes (1808-1885) of The Bush, Co. Antrim owning 4,332 acres of land in Co. Roscommon and 189 acres in Co. Antrim.

Edwin Hughes, the eldest son of Thomas, was born on 19th September 1852 and in 1886 married Emma Sophia Rhodes, daughter of Henry Perry Rhodes, Esq originally of Queens County and resident at Glenaok, Crumlin, Co. Antrim. After having been called to the bar, Edwin Hughes, like the house’s previous owner, become a prosperous and successful solicitor in the town of Belfast. Before moving to Dalchoolin, Edwin Hughes had taken a lease on Mertoun Hall at nearby Holywood, one time home of the ‘Squire of Holywood’ John Harrison, who later lived at Holywood House. He was appointed to serve as High Sheriff for Co. Roscommon in 1893 and for Co. Down in 1902. In September 1917 was appointed by the Marques of Londonderry (Lord Lieutenant for Co. Down) to serve as Deputy Lieutenant for the county.

The Hughes family were highly respected horse breeders and took part in many equestrian events including the Co. Antrim Polo Club, the East Antrim Hunt Point to Point races and the Co. Down Staghounds. Soon the estate became famous for equestrian prowess and fine stable accommodation – much of which was captured on film by the camera of Mrs Hughes as can be seen in these photographs …

Edwin and Emma had one son and two daughters – their son Thomas William Gillilan Johnston Hughes was born at Dalchoolin on 30th March 1889. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge and went on to study law. In October 1911, he entered King’s Inns, being called to the bar as a barrister by the Lord Chancellor in June 1914.

However, with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he was one of the first soldiers at the age of 25 to be sent to France on 17 August being a member of A Squadron of the North Irish Horse, of which he had been commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in June 1910.

Lieutenant Hughes (pictured on the left) saw active service throughout the period of the First World War in France and Belgium, being promoted captain in November 1915 and receiving the 1914 Star, the British War Medal, Victory Medal and mentioned in Field Marshall Haig’s dispatches for his bravery and services in May 1917.

After the war, Hughes remained an officer of the North Irish Horse. When he relinquished his commission on 30 March 1934, having reached the age limit for officers, he was granted the honorary rank of Major … a title he was often referred to for the rest of his life! He was a member of the prestigious Ulster Club on Castle Place.

The Major’s father Edwin Hughes died at Dalchoolin on 26th November 1919 leaving a personal estate of £137,635 – £500 of which was given to the Presbyterian Orphan Society and £300 to the Belfast Royal Hospital, after which he, as the only son, inherited Dalchoolin as the family home. A memorial tablet was unveiled and dedicated to Edwin by the Lord Bishop of Down at Belfast Cathedral during a service of thanksgiving on 3rd September 1920.

Major Hughes, like his father, was elected to serve as High Sheriff of Co. Down by the Governor, the Duke of Abercorn in 1942. The high sheriff is theoretically the judicial representative of the Queen in the county, although by that stage it had largely become a ceremonial post. His mother Emma died at Dalchoolin in March 1946, aged 83 years of age.

Life at Dalchoolin was vividly captured by Major Hughes daughter Elizabeth Anne (1926-2005) in an article on her upbringing in the big house. In one of the society weddings of the year, on Friday 12th May 1950, Anne married Major William Norman Brann, with the reception being held, naturally, at Dalchoolin.

During the Second World War Norman Brann was among more than 300,000 British troops evacuated from Dunkirk, while he later saw combat in the Far East during that same conflict before returning to run a successful food importing business (Beck & Scott) while rationing was still in force.

Anne could claim her heritage back to Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, and was the great granddaughter of William Smith O’Brien, (right) Irish Nationalist MP for Limerick 1835-1849 and founder of the Young Ireland Movement. Although a member of the Anglo-Irish Ascendency, O’Brien was sentenced to death in 1848 by the British Authorities, a sentence which was later commuted with him being sent to Tasmania. Such colourful ancestors!

She tells of the butler, Martin Fitzsimmons, who looked after the Hughes family for over 60 years at Dalchoolin. Martin lived with his wife, the cook at the big house, in the South Gate lodge. He would take early morning tea up to Elizabeth’s’ mother and father, before stoking all the fires in the house, and then serving morning elevenses, lunch in the dining room at 1:00pm, afternoon tea, followed by dinner at 7:30pm and finally nightcaps at 9:00pm!

Anne also had a governess, Rosie, who in addition to educating the children, taught them to climb trees and how to lay fires in the grounds on which to cook Baked Potatoes!

There was a walled garden of about an acre with herbaceous borders, a rockery in a ruined cottage, many rose beds and a pond with a fountain. There was a greenhouse with a vinery and peaches. Another acre accommodated more fruit trees and vegetables and fed eight households! Other areas of the estate were set aside for shrubs and specialist trees. These were all tended by ‘Old Magill’ the head gardener, and her father who had a “tremendous knowledge of plants and plant care.”

When she married, Anne and Norman moved to Drumavaddy in the Craigantlet Hills. Lt Colonel Norman Brann was awarded the OBE, ERD, and like his in laws became a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant and then Lord Lieutenant for Co. Down (1979), a position he held for 11 years!

Meanwhile, back at Dalchoolin, the Major absorbed himself in everything to do with horses, becoming one of Ulster’s Leading Horse Breeders. An outstanding judge of horses, his hunters were regular winners in showrings and on racecourses all over Ireland. He was a lifelong member of the Co. Down Staghounds and the North Down Harriers with whom he hunted regularly.

Major Hughes died at Dalchoolin in 1963, aged 74, leaving a wife, son and daughter.


It was at this stage that the family decided that the upkeep of such a large house as Dalchoolin was becoming increasingly impossible. They did not want to sell to developers and risk the house being demolished so they decided to sell it to the Northern Ireland Government in 1963, thinking it would keep it in good repair and perhaps open it to the public. However, the building fell into disrepair and, overtaken with rot, was demolished after having lain empty for many years.

The site of the estate was eventually earmarked for the transfer of the rather cramped Ulster Transport Museum which at that time was located on Witham Street, close to the Holywood Arches in East Belfast.

The building, a converted warehouse, was no longer fit for purpose, and at last the benefits of moving to Cultra were realised, although too late for the big house to be part of the plans.

The Ulster Folk Museum had opened to the public in 1964 on the site of Cultra Manor (acquired in 1961), the former home of the Kennedy family, just across the road from Dalchoolin. It amalgamated with the Transport Museum on Witham Street in 1967, but it was not until 1993, that the Transport Museum moved into new rail and road galleries on the site of Dalchoolin at Cultra.

The rolling stock and exhibits could be transported by rail to the new proposed museum building, and along with ample room for expansion and car parking, the site was prepared for a new lease of life for the Transport Museum.

The newly named Ulster Folk and Transport Museum opened at Cultra in 1993 on a 68-acre site with the transport galleries (one of which was named Dalchoolin) being subsequently expanded in 1996.

In 1998, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum merged with the Ulster Museum and the Ulster-American Folk Park to form the National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland, now National Museums Northern Ireland.

In her later years, Anne Brann (nee Hughes) moved to the Somme Nursing Home at Craigavon House, where she was visited by Princess Anne on one of her visits to the province. It had been established in 1914 to provide treatment, as a UVF Hospital, for servicemen returning from the First World War. Her father was a major benefactor to this hospital. Colonel Brann was also an Aide de Camp to princess Anne’s uncle for 20 years and therefore she had plenty to talk about with the Royal.

She died on 29th June 2005, aged 79 years, followed by the death of her devoted husband Colonel Norman Brann on 31st December in the same year.

She is survived by her three children, Victoria, Stephen and Catherine, one of which has inherited her fathers and grandfathers love of horses – so much so her racehorse is called – what else? – but Dalchoolin!

Written by History Hub Ulster Member Richard Graham

Wartime aircraft tragedy at RAF Aldergrove

Researched and presented by Nigel Henderson.

On the morning of 19th July 1941, a Mark 4 Bristol Blenheim aircraft (Number T2120) from 254 Squadron was returning to RAF Aldergrove in formation with two other aircraft. On approaching the airfield, the aircraft broke formation, with two of the aircraft making perfect landings. The aircraft piloted by Walter Hargreaves King crashed into the canteen run by the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institute (NAAFI). Three of the crew died in the crash, with the pilot’s body being found fifty yards from the impact site. One crewman, (see footnote) Aircraftman D R Comer, survived with extensive injuries. Ten aircraftmen who had been on the ground near the scene of the crash were seriously injured and one died of his injuries. However, the greatest impact occurred inside the NAAFI canteen where six female volunteers were killed and a further four were injured. RAF men being drilled nearby hurried to the impact site to help clear the debris and to provide assistance to the injured. The incident and the subsequent Coroner’s Enquiry received extensive coverage in Northern Ireland newspapers, although there was conflicting information. On 23rd July, the Northern Whig reported that the aircraft collided with a telegraph pole while flying at a low level and included an eye-witness statement that the wings were ripped off in the collision and the fuselage hurtled onto the canteen. However, this report referred to a Hudson bomber and to six Women’s Auxiliary Air Force fatalities.

On 23rd July, a Coroner’s Enquiry was held into the ten deaths and the following day the Northern Whig reported that the aircraft had struck a wooden building before crashing into the canteen. Evidence was given that the aeroplane was in perfect mechanical order when it took off. In response to a question from a relative of one of the victims as to whether the pilot was experienced, a flying officer responded that, “the pilot was fully qualified to fly the machine”. The Coroner returned a verdict of “Accidental death” and expressed his profound sympathy with the relatives of those who had lost their lives in the tragic accident. He also warmly commended those who had hurried to the scene to help in the rescue work. However, the Operations Record Book reveals a very different account of the incident which might have warranted a different verdict:“  … were killed when pilot failed to pull out of a dive on aerodrome in time to avoid obstruction. Port wing struck a telegraph pole and aircraft crashed into buildings and caught fire. This accident was the result of an error of judgement on the part of a comparatively inexperienced pilot. The flight was authorised for formation flying training and the dive was a breach of flying discipline. This pilot was a very quiet type and had never given cause to be suspected of dangerous flying.” [Author’s italics]

The bodies of the Royal Air Force fatalities were repatriated to England for burial:

Aircraftman (1st Class) Clifford Henry Hore in Birmingham (Handsworth) Cemetery

Pilot Officer Walter Hargreaves King in Sanderstead (All Saints) Churchyard Extension

Sergeant Philip Evans Neale in Boldmere (St. Michael) Churchyard

Sergeant Richard Edward Lea in Ormskirk (St Peter and St Paul) Churchyard

The NAAFI Fatalities

Unusually for civilian fatalities, the death notices for Miss Castles, Miss Crozier, and Miss Watson were placed in the “Died on Active Service” column.

Annie Watson was born on 25th March 1900 at Sydney Street West to James Watson, a smith’s helper, and Sarah Watson and the family was living at Pernau Street in the 1940s. Annie is buried in Belfast City Cemetery, in the same grave as her mother who had died just three months earlier. Whilst Annie’s age at death is officially recorded as 36, there is compelling evidence from census and civil registration records that she was 41 years old when she died.

Margaret Castles was born on 26th August 1916 Crumlin Road to Thomas Castles, a loom tenter, and Jane Castles (nee Welsh) who later lived at Blaris Road in Lisburn. Maggie Castles was living with Eliza Castles, her grandmother, at 25 Kitchener Street when she died and is buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

Annie Violet Shaw Crozier was born on 9th September 1915 at Blythe Street to William Crozier and Sarah Crozier (nee Austin) and the family home was at 80 Farnham Street in the Ormeau district in the 1940s. Annie Violet Shaw Crozier is buried in Knockbreda Cemetery but there is no memorial at her grave.

Brigid Isabella McGarry was born on 28th April 1919 at Killead, to James McGarry and Catherine McGarry (nee McStravick) who later lived at Largy Road, Crumlin. Brigid is buried in St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Graveyard in Glenavy. A shield at the McGarry plot declares it to be The family burying place of James McGarry 1882 and there are no details of the people interred in the plot.

Mary Agnes Mulholland was born around 1923 to Francis Arthur Mulholland, a builder, and Sarah Mary Mulholland (nee McAlea) of Aldergrove and is buried in St James’ Roman Catholic Church Graveyard, Aldergrove.

Elizabeth Osborne was born on 15th June 1907 at Excise Street in Belfast to Thomas Osborne and Elizabeth Osborne (nee Hopps) and the family later lived at Ballymacateer, Lurgan. Elizabeth Osborne is buried in the graveyard at First Lurgan Presbyterian Church.


Additional information from the RAF Commands website and 254 Squadron Operations Record Book (National Archives Reference AIR/27/1514/37)

Researched and presented by Nigel Henderson.

Footnote: Nick Comer, son of D R Comer advises that his father was ‘on the ground’ marching’. Also see this website referencing the National Archives AIR81.

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.


Ulstermen at War: Chaplains Series

Our researchers, Nigel Henderson and Michael Nugent have presented a short series of talks about the work of ministers and chaplains during the Great War, with a particular focus on clerics who died, were wounded, were taken prisoner, or who received gallantry awards. The talks are presented via our YouTube channel at the following links:


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.

Written by History Hub Ulster Member Nigel Henderson

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


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