Category Archives: History

Laying the Foundation Stone of Carleton Street Orange Hall

Laying the Foundation Stone of Carleton Street Orange Hall

The foundation stone of Carleton Street Orange Hall was laid on 1st July 1872.  This particular moment in history has led to nearly 150 years worth of local heritage in Carleton Street Orange Hall.

The weather was quite poor on that particular day but it did not affect the proceedings of the ceremony.  The ceremony was described as being “performed in a manner worthy of the occasion”.

Arrival

Just after noon, the ‘Country Lodges’ and spectators marched into Portadown.  The Orange Lodges had agreed to meet at 1:00pm ‘on the green’ where the hall would be built in Carleton Street.  From that hour until shortly before 3:00pm, processions of the Brethren were continuously arriving.

Below is a list of the Lodges and their Worshipful Masters who were present.

  • LOL 7 – R Ruddock
  • LOL 8- H Mercer
  • LOL 9- Thomas Hoy
  • LOL 10- B Donnelly
  • LOL 13- R Budd
  • LOL 20- William Dyner
  • LOL 25- George Sherman
  • LOL 31- J Cooke
  • LOL 40 – James Taylor
  • LOL 56 – W J Locke
  • LOL 58 – Albert Groabie
  • LOL 78- Thomas Wright
  • LOL 81- John Little
  • LOL 89- George Robinson
  • LOL 99- William G Dowey
  • LOL 107- Malcolmson Moffet
  • LOL 172- Rev C K Owen
  • LOL 417 – J Patton
  • LOL 1301- W J Sullivan

Platform

Each Lodge carried their banner.  The banners were described in local newspaper reports as ‘without exception of rich quality and chaste design’.  There was a platform set up at the site of the new hall.  A large union flag in the centre, and one in each corner, where flown from the tower of St Marks Parish Church.  During the early part of the afternoon the bells of the church were rung in honour of the occasion.

The platform party consisted of; Stewart Blacker Esq, Rev C K Irwin, Rev A J Are, Rev James Patton, Rev S Sullivan, Rev H W Left, Baroness Von Steglitz, Miss Belcher, Miss Stead, Mrs Sullivan, Miss McNally, Miss Crosslee, Miss Kate Carleton, Mr Thomas Carleton Esq, Dr Stuart W Hall Esq, Mr J Boyd Esq, R Pepper Esq, Mrs Pepper and  Brother James Ruddock (D.M).

Proceedings

The proceedings began with Stewart Blacker stating that “they always commenced their proceedings with prayer and in reading a portion of scripture”.  Reverend Irwin led the opening prayers while Reverend Patton read the 67th Psalm.

Stewart Blacker then began his speech.  He welcomed all those present and paid tribute to the occasion and all the Brethren of Portadown Orange District.

” There is no District in the whole Orange Institution that holds such a historical place as the good district of Portadown”

– Stewart Blacker

 

Major Stewart Blacker

Mr Blacker also paid tribute to the formation of the Orange Order and the first Grand Master. His uncle, Colonel William Blacker.  He was immensely proud of this.  Stewart Blacker then proceeded to show the crowd William Blacker’s Orange Sash. It had represented his position as Grand Master.  The sash was described as ‘rather worse for wear, and rather faded’ but he went on to say that “it was worn by an honest-hearted Protestant, and will always be held by true Protestants as a genuine relic”.  Stewart Blacker then produced an orange gown that had been worn by William Blacker’s wife, Anne.  This was well received with laughter and applause by the crowd and there was three cheers given for the ladies.

Stewart Blacker then continued his speech by stating his hopes and expectations of the Portadown Orange Hall.

“In a Hall of our own we can meet comfortably and well, and ask our friends to it and speak our sentiments, and hear our minister of the various evangelical denomination.  We can form a common platform of which Protestantism and the holy scriptures are the base of the foundations.  We have often been spoken against because the poor and the humble man goes to the public house, but every poor and humble man has not got a large and fashionable club to receive him, and when he has been toiling and working, he is obliged to go somewhere to get refreshment.  It is not the fault of of our institution; but by having an Orange Hall we can have a meeting place for men of all tastes for the principles of our Orange Lodges.”

– Stewart Blacker

The Belfast Newsletter 2nd July 1872

 

He finished his speech with the words;

“Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry”

Inspiration for an Orange Hall

The inspiration for building Carleton Street Orange Hall began in Canada. Stewart Blacker visited Canada in July 1870.  He was astonished and delighted by the Orange Order in Canada. They had beautiful halls and other buildings that were used for not just meetings but also large orange orphan institutions.

One particular building in Toronto used the main body for meetings, but it also had two great wings, referred to as ‘Orange Wings’.  Within those wings of the building there was the Orange Institutions aged members and those who were past work.  There was many advantages for the Orange Order in Toronto having this facility.  One of the main advantages was that it meant their members were kept out of the poor house.

 

Laying the Foundation Stone

The official laying of the foundation stone was initiated when The Portadown Protestant Brass Band played “The Protestant Boys”.  The Baroness Von Stieglitz was Called upon to officially lay the stone.  Mr J Boyd from Belfast was the architect of the hall and he presented the Baroness with a silver trowel for the purpose of the occasion.

The silver trowel was supplied by ‘Messrs, Trelford and Co’ from Donegall Place Belfast. It had the following inscription:

‘Presented by the Orangemen of the District of Portadown to the Baroness Von Stieglitz of Carrickblacker on the occasion of her laying the first stone of Portadown Orange Hall, July 1st 1872’

Rev W Lett, from Bessbrook, read the dedication prayer and then the stone was lowered into place. The Baroness tapped the stone and declared it ‘duly laid in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost’.  The foundation stone was a corner stone.

Who was Baroness Von Stieglitz?

 

Hester Anne Von Stieglitz (Nee Blacker)

Hester Anne Blacker was Stewart Blacker’s sister.  Hester Anne married Baron Fredrick Von Stieglitz.  He was a descendant of an aristocratic family from Pilsen, Bohemia.  The family had settled in Cookstown, County Tyrone in 1802.  The Baron emigrated from there to Australia where he married.  He returned to Ireland on the death of his first wife.  He married Hester Anne in 1859.

The Baron died in 1866 and the couple had no children.  Baroness Von Stieglitz then devoted much of her life to Seagoe Parish Church and took a keen interest in the local community and people.

The Baroness was instilled with a great interest in the Orange Order and she often attended the Twelfth demonstrations with her uncle, Colonel William Blacker.

This interest led Hester Anne to donate money for the building of Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The other major contributors towards the Orange Hall were Major Stewart Blacker and Miss Kate Carleton.

The Baroness also leased land at Seagoe for the building of an Orange Hall by Seagoe LOL 26.

 

 

 

 

 

Kids Trail at Carleton Street Orange Hall

Kids Trail at Carleton Street Orange Hall

Looking for something fun and local for the kids to do this summer?

Portadown Heritage Tours are launching a Kids Treasure Trail at Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The Trail is available on Tuesday 6th August, Thursday 8th August, Tuesday 13th August, Thursday 15th August and Tuesday 20th August.   The Trail will be open from 9:30am until 3:00pm.

Kids Treasure Trail

The Trail covers the ground floor of the Orange Hall.  Each room has a different activity to complete as part of the Trail.  The Trail is suitable for Primary School aged children and younger children will also enjoy it but they may need some help along the way. Parents and Guardians must stay with children at all times.

Educational

Activities on the trail also have an educational element.  The activities cover historical topics such as the Formation of the Orange Order, the First World War, The Orange Order in different Countries and Museum investigation.  Also we have added a unique element as part of the activities.  Portadown Heritage Tours have set up a mock Lodge meeting for the kids to get involved in. The mock Lodge meeting gives a small insight into the Orange Order without giving away trade secrets!

For parents who would like to get their children involved in the Junior Orange, this offers a small insight into a general Lodge Meeting and the Orange Institution as a whole.

Fun Continues

The Trail will take approximately an hour to complete.  After the Trail is completed Parents/Guardians can take the kids upstairs to the large function room.  There they are free to run about in a safe environment.  There is lots of games available for them to play.  There is also different arts, crafts and colouring activities available.

We also have refreshments available for kids and adults.  The trail is priced at £3 per child. To book the trail contact the Portadown Heritage Tours office on 38332010 or search ‘Portadown Heritage Tours’ on Facebook and send us a private message.

 

The Historical Significance of Bonfires

The Historical Significance of Bonfires

The Bonfire Tradition

Each year throughout Northern Ireland, hundreds of bonfires are lit and enjoyed in a safe manner by many people.  Although if they are not built properly, they can cause damage to property.

The tradition of building bonfires in Portadown goes right back to the 1830’s.  According to our archives, It was around this time that the first Arches also started to appear throughout the town.  The two traditions have developed together throughout the years.

Bonfires are lit around the world at different times of the year to celebrate many different occasions.

Timeline of the Bonfire

Bonfires have been around since the start of mankind.  In Ancient times, Bonfires were not only used for warmth, cooking and light, but they also became a centre of social activity and a religious and spiritual ritual.  In essence it became a tradition of remembrance and celebration.

When Christianity was brought to the Island of Ireland sometime before the 5th century,  it caused a shift in religious belief.  Instead of the ancient tradition of ‘fire worshipers’, a bonfire became significant on feast days and other religious holidays.  The whole community would come together around a bonfire and praise God.

Military use of a Bonfire

The military first started using Bonfires in the 1500’s.  Fire and light have always been used as a means of communicating and signalling.  The military would often use bonfires as a way of signalling that danger was approaching.

The Bonfire and Orangeism

William III Prince of Orange, landed at Torbay in England on 5th November 1688.  William came at the request of the people.  They wanted  King James II removed from the throne. The people also wanted  their rights restored as subjects. Their rights had been taken from them by James.  William agreed to a new Bill of Rights.  This became the foundation of modern day democracy.  When the people heard of William and Mary’s coronation, Bonfires were lit all over Ulster in Celebration.

In June 1690, William and his army landed at Carrickfergus .  As he marched into Belfast, Bonfires were once again lit to celebrate his arrival.

The 11th Night Tradition

Bonfires are lit on the 11th July night throughout Northern Ireland.  These bonfires are a commemoration of William III’s victory over James II at the Battle of The Boyne. The Bonfires are a tradition that represent the Bonfires lit in celebration of William’s coronation and also his landing at Carrickfergus.  But the Bonfires also represent the camp fires lit by William’s army the night before the Battle of The Boyne.  The Battle was fought on 1st July, but changes to the Christian calendar mean the anniversary is now celebrated on the 12th July.

Other Historical events in Northern Ireland

Bonfires were lit to celebrate the defeat of the First Home Rule Bill in 1886.  In 1945, to celebrate Victory in Europe day (VE), Bonfires were also lit throughout Northern Ireland.  They were a focal point of the celebrations as large street parties were also held throughout communities.

Bonfires Today

Bonfires in the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community are a means of maintaining tradition and are an expression of cultural heritage.  It is a tradition that is passed down the generations.  For the areas of Portadown that host Bonfires, it is a community event that brings together the generations.  It is around those fires on the 11th night that people come together to celebrate their history.  It is also an opportunity for the older generation to have a yarn and reminisce about the old days of building the bonfire.

The Stories are told of days gone by. The days of going out to collect the dead wood and trees before the days of wooden pallets being delivered by lorries!

What is not to be underestimated, is the time and effort that is given to building Bonfires.  This effort makes the continuation of tradition possible.  As Northern Ireland changes, aspects of the Bonfire will change.  It will develop and change as it has done throughout history.  What will not change for Northern Ireland Bonfires, is the heritage and history of tradition behind them.

 

 

Portadown Arches: Clounagh and Rectory

Portadown Arches: Clounagh and Rectory

The Clounagh Arch was a small steel construction.

“There was a fairly decent supply of flags in the town and on the line of route of the procession on Saturday.  One of the arches, perhaps the Edenderry one was the most admired by the visitors, but that at Clounagh corner also received a due share of praise.  A very neat arch was displayed at Clounagh Cottages on the Armagh Road.  The Inscription on one side was ‘Clounagh Welcomes you‘ and on the other ‘1690-Nuff Said-1916’.”

-Portadown Times

31st August 1923

 

Clounagh Arch and Sir William Allen pictured at the platform of RBP Parade.

Rectory Arch

In 1981 a committee was formed with the intention of erecting an Arch in Rectory Estate.  The Committee members collected weekly from the local residents and a new Arch was erected in time for the July celebrations in 1982.

 

The Arch in 1982 with Clounagh RBP 663 parading under it on 13th July.

After the Drumcree Stand off in 1995 and 1996, the committee decided to refurbish the Arch and incorporate Drumcree Parish Church into the design.

 

 

Platform Party at the opening of the Arch on 10th July 1997. Pictured on the right, 3rd person in, is Harold Gracey.

 

 

 

Rectory Arch 1997 with Star of David Accordion Band

 

 

Current Rectory Arch dedicated to the Memory of Harold Gracey.

 

Following the death of Worshipful District Master Harold Gracey, the decision was taken to include Harold’s picture on the Arch.

In 2016, the Arch was again refurbished and this time dedicated as the Harold Gracey Memorial Arch.

 

 

Harold Gracey

Harold joined Edenderry Junior LOL 51 at the age of seven.  He was greatly influenced by his uncle, Brother Albert Greenaway, who was a member of LOL 322 and a District Lecturer.

At the age of sixteen, Harold joined Wingfield Verners Crimson Star LOL 25 and in 1954 gained his Lecturers Certificate.  It was presented to him by Worshipful District Master, Dr George Dougan.  The following year he received his Royal Arch Purple Lecturers Certificate.  Harold first became a Lecturer in LOL 25 and a number of years later he was appointed District Lecturer for Portadown District LOL No 1.

When Brother Gracey was visiting Lodges he became well known and respected by all. In 1986 Harold became Worshipful District Master of Portadown LOL No.1 and was a popular choice of the Brethren.

Harold took over at an extremely difficult time for Portadown District due to the controversy over the Obins Street parades.  Harold did not flinch facing problems and brought calm to many difficult situations.

The Drumcree Church Parade by Portadown District LOL No.1 was first stopped in 1995 at Police lines.  There Harold famously said:

 

“The Brethren of Portadown will not be moving,  let it be hours, let it be days or weeks until they can walk the traditional route”.

 

 

 

Thousands of people flocked to Drumcree.  The support was not just for Portadown District but also for Harold Gracey.

In 1996, there was a further standoff, but again Harold Gracey stood firm.  The Church parade was given the go ahead in 1997, but worse was to come in 1998.  This time the Government did not back down, but neither did Harold.  Harold moved into a caravan at Drumcree during the Siege.

Harold was WDM of Portadown District from 1986 until his death in 2004.  He is not just one of the most famous Orangemen of the long history and heritage of the District, but he is regarded by Orangemen throughout Ireland and further afield, as one of the greatest Orangemen of the 20th Century.

Portadown Arches: South Street

Portadown Arches: South Street

South Street Arch Unveiled

An Arch was unveiled in South Street on 11th August 1933.  Sir Knight and Brother R H Bell, District Master of Portadown Royal Black District Chapter, presided over the ceremony.  The Arch was described as “a beautiful piece of work carried out entirely by voluntary labour”.  The woodwork was made by Mr James R McCullough and the painting was completed by Mr John Rowe.  There was a team of volunteers who helped complete the Arch; Mr R Wright, Mr D Wright, Mr S Wright, (three brothers who served in the Great War), Mr James Flanagan, Mr Joshua Jones, Mr Sydney Black, Mr Alfred Hutchinson and Mr Albert Magee.

The Arch was painted to bear the words; ‘Death before submission: Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and The Boyne’ and ‘Fear God Honour the King.’

The Opening

The residents of South Street had decorated South Street and Hanover Street with flags and bunting.  A large crowd gathered around a platform which was beside the Arch.

A parade procession of Apprentice Boys, led by Corcrain Conservative Prize Band, marched from Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The parade was headed by Brother John Hughes (President of the Parent Club), Brother W J Johnston (President of the Mitchelbourne Club), Brother Thomas Shanks (President of the Browning Club), Brother R Barnes (Secretary of the Mitchelbourne Club), Brother W Wilson (Vice President of the Mitchelbourne Club) and Brother W J Cardwell (Past Master of Hamilton District, Ontario).

In a speech by Brother R Bell, he stated that the ‘Apprentice Boys were as determined as the men of 1688 to resist any attempt to put them under the rule of their enemies’ and he hoped ‘the younger generation would not be lacking when called to defend their father land, their faith and their king’.

The Arch was then unveiled by Brother W J Johnston, who was one of the oldest Apprentice Boys present. Brother Johnston congratulated the local people on the ‘Magnificent Arch’ and said he had ‘never seen anything more appropriate’.  Continuing his speech, he went on to say that; ‘The Arch is a credit to the District, and he greatly appreciated the honour they had done him in inviting him along that evening.  He hoped they would always have it to span that thoroughfare on each succeeding 12th August and 12th July’.

Act of Remembrance

The opening ceremony of the Arch was closed with the band playing the National Anthem.  The procession reformed and marched, via Thomas Street, to the War Memorial.  At the War Memorial a wreath was laid in memory of the fallen of the Great War.  It was laid by the Presidents of the three Apprentice Boys Clubs; Brother Hughes, Brother Johnston and Brother Shanks.

There was a large crowd present. An act of remembrance followed and Bugler R Wright, who had served with the Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War, sounded the Last Post and Reveille.  The band led the singing of the National Anthem.  The Bells of St Marks Church played ‘Abide With Me’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’.  The Crimson Banner of the Apprentice Boys of Derry flew from the tower of the church.

South Street Arch- Children of the Street with A Billy Lundy

 

Portadown Arches: Carleton Street

Portadown Arches: Carleton Street

 Carleton Street: David Rock Memorial Arch

In July 1939 the David Rock Memorial Arch was unveiled in Carleton Street.  Sir William Allen and Lady Allen were present.  There was a large gathering in the street and the Arch was unveiled by Mrs S A McDonald, JP, Cranagil.  Sir William Allen DSO, MP presided.

The Arch was described as an “imposing structure which is a credit to the designers, and is a worthy perpetuation of the memory of Brother Rock”.

 

Opening of the David Rock Memorial Arch in Carleton Street

David Rock

David Rock was one of the most distinguished men to have held office in Portadown District LOL No.1.  He held the position of District Secretary. He also served as Worshipful Master of his Lodge, Prince of Wales LOL 56.  He was Deputy Grand Master of Ireland.  He was also Worshipful Master of Carrickblacker Guiding Star RBP 503 and Deputy District Master of Portadown Royal Black District Chapter No.5.

 

David Rock MBE JP

 

David was a leading citizen in Portadown.  He topped the voting polls on many occasions in the Portadown Urban District Council elections.  He also served as Chairman of Portadown Urban District Council for several years and worked tirelessly on behalf of both communities.

His greatest contribution to Portadown was in the early 1920’s at the time of Partition.  The IRA launched a terrorist offensive across Ulster.  This affected many large towns.  David was a Senior Officer in the Ulster Special Constabulary and maintained strict discipline over his men.

When four Portadown ‘A’ Specials were kidnapped by the IRA at the border, David led patrols of Specials to prevent reprisals against the Nationalist Community.  Negotiations between Unionist leaders and Orange leaders, including David Rock, and the IRA resulted in the four Specials being released unharmed.

A leading Nationalist member of Portadown Urban District Council paid tribute to David saying “David Rock had more than anyone kept the peace in Portadown”.  This was echoed by Joe Devlin Nationalist MP for West Belfast at a function in Portadown in 1923.

Under David Rock’s leadership, the Orange Order in Portadown flourished, with a number of new lodges being formed.  David Rock died on 16th October 1937 and thousands attended his funeral at St Saviours The Dobbin.

David Rock’s headstone reads “A noble and unselfish example of a true Orangeman”.

An imposing and handsome structure

Surmounted by three Gothic Arches, the structure was completed with symbols of the Orange and Black Institutions.  An open Bible occupied a prominent position and the memorial attribute was indicated in a black and white finish.  There were two photographs of Brother Rock, which were taken by Brother W J Moffett, in the centre of the structure.  One portrayed him as an Orangeman and the other as a Sir Knight.

 

“The people of Carleton Street are making a ‘strong pull’ to have their new arch erected in good time for the ‘Twelfth’, and we understand that it will be really worthy memorial to the late Brother David Rock, MBE JP, in the street in which he spent such a big part of his life”.

– Portadown Times April 1939

Valuable Help

Orange Lodges and Royal Black Perceptories gave valuable help towards the Arch.  Funds for the arch was raised through subscriptions.

Below is listed the subscriptions made by Lodges and Perceptories.  The subscriptions were published in newspapers at the time.

  • LOL 56 -£3 3s
  • LOL127- 5s
  • LOL 31- 5s
  • LOL 99- 5s
  • LOL 273 -5s
  • LOL 417 -5s
  • LOL 58 -10s
  • RBP 466- 10s 6d
  • RBP 744- 10s
  • RBP 199- 5s
  • RBP 267- 5s

Sadly, the Carleton Street Arch was erected only once.  The 2nd World War broke out in September 1939 and the Arch was put into storage.  There are no records available as to what happened the Arch after the 2nd World War.

Portadown Arches: Parkmount and Corcrain

Portadown Arches: Parkmount and Corcrain

An Arch to be proud of: Parkmount

It is believed an arch was first opened in Parkmount in the 1920’s, although it could have been earlier. It stood at the junction of Park Road and Water Street.

 

Parkmount Flute Band under the Arch in approximately the 1920’s

Parkmount Arch 1945

The second Parkmount Arch was opened in July 1945.  Many leading members of Portadown District LOL No. 1 were present including Brother Herbert Whitten who presided over the opening ceremony and Brother R J Magowan who acted as Chairman.  Brother George Dougan, who was a well respected Doctor of the town, as well as the Portadown District Master at the time, switched on the lights at the official ceremony.

Dr Dougan received acclamation during the opening ceremony of the arch on his recent election victory.  In turn he thanked the crowd and paid tribute to the members of Parkmount Flute Band who had rendered assistance during the campaign.  George Dougan was MP for central Armagh.  He was elected to Stormont in March 1941, replacing David Graham Shillington.

 

Parkmount Arch 

 

The Present Arch

The present Parkmount Arch has been refurbished and repainted many times as it has been attacked by republicans. The latest refurbishment took place in 2014, one side of the Arch reads ‘In memory of the Parkmount Community’ while the other side reads ‘In Memory of Bro Ivan Forbes’, who was a tireless worker for the Arch.

 

 

 

 

An Arch of the Past: Corcrain

The Corcrain Arch was officially opened in June 1937.  It was a magnificent structure of wood and steel, and the decorations were described as ‘artistic’.  The sixty foot span was comprised of three arch-ways which harmonised in colour and size.  The arch contained various symbols of the Orange and Black Orders.

The Arch was completed by Mr Fred Mccullough of Corcrain and Mr A Murphy carried out the painting.  Members of the Arch Committee were; Mr John Wright Junior, Mr Thomas Gilpin, Mr William Thompson, Mr David Hamill, Mr Robert Burns and Mr James Fleming.

Corcrain Arch

The Opening

A large parade of Orangemen, including the Junior Orange, were led by Corcrain Flute Band who provided the music throughout the ceremony. The opening was performed by Mrs Woods under the Chairmanship of Brother David Rock.

David Rock MBE JP held office in Portadown District LOL NO 1 and was a member of LOL 56.  He had been a District Commandant of the Ulster Special Constabulary in Portadown.

Portadown Arches: Mourneview Street and Queen Street

Portadown Arches: Mourneview Street and Queen Street

The Arches of Mouneview Street and Queen Street provide a great sense of pride and community to local residents.  One thing that has become clear through our journey of discovering the heritage of the local Arches, is the amount of time and effort local residents give to the Arches. The members of the different Arches committees’ throughout the town deserve a lot of recognition for maintaining this great tradition.

Mourneview Street Arch Official Opening

Mourneview Street Arch was unveiled in July 1939 by Sir Knight Alex Adair, District Master of Portadown Royal Black Chapter. The majority of the arch was designed and constructed by Mr Wilson Binks.  The old English lettering of the inscriptions and the glass panels were completed by Mr Joseph Wright.  During the speeches at the opening, both men where congratulated on their success.

The weather conditions were particularly poor for the opening ceremony.  But that did not dampen the spirits of over 1000 people who gathered to witness the official opening.

Portadown Pipe Band and Edgarstown Accordion Band provided the music for the evening. The proceedings of the evening was led by Sir Knight and Brother R J Magowan, Worshipful Master of Edenderry LOL 322.

“It’s Lovely!”

“Isn’t it nice!”

“The Colouring and lettering are beautiful”

‘These exclamations are typical of what a bystander heard at the unveiling of Mourneview Street Arch on Thursday evening last’.

Portadown Times 14th July 1939

 

It is interesting and very appropriate to note that no fewer than nine members of the committee had the first name William; William Baxter, William (Billy) Cooper, William (Billy) Whitten Junior, William Taylor, William (Billy) Magee, William Baxter Junior, William McKeown, William Power Senior and William Power Junior.

The other members of the committee were Teddy Grimason, Arthur Magee, George Whitten, George Hodgen and George Magee.

Queen Street Arch

In 1983, a few of the local residents on the street had the idea of erecting their own Arch at the Thomas Street entrance.  A Committee was formed and a collection was made in the neighbourhood.  Planning permission was requested and granted.

An arch shed was built to store the Arch throughout the year.  The building of the shed was done on a voluntary basis mainly by Mr Paul Trouton, Mr Trevor Bonis, Mr Brian Beattie and a few others.

The Arch was sourced from the Derryadd area; one that was no longer in use.  It was then adapted in size as the steel was too short.  The steel poles were made to measure locally. The wooden structure was built to suit by residents from the street; mainly Mr Paul Trouton and Mr Trevor Bonis.

It was then painted by local residents Mr Paul Trouton, Mr Trevor Bonis and Mr Brian Beattie.  The artwork was completed by Mr Neville Austin and the electric work was completed by Mr George Trouton.  The lettering was done by a local sign-writer Mr Bracken Anderson.

Official Opening

The Queen Street Arch was officially opened on 28th June 1985 by local MP Mr Harold McCusker and dedicated by the Reverend Tom Taylor.

Portadown Defenders Flute Band provided the music during the opening ceremony and a reception was held in the Trouton Household for the dignitaries.

Maintaining the Arch

The Arch was maintained for the first fifteen years by a collection from the residents of the street, but unfortunately due to the change in the population of the area this became unfeasible.

The Arch has been put up each year since with the goodwill of the Trouton family and friends and with the kind help of The Beattie family; who look after the shed and supply the electricity.  It has been refurbished a number of times during its almost thirty five year existence.

 

1914: The possibility of a UVF hospital at Carleton Street Orange Hall

1914: The possibility of a UVF hospital at Carleton Street Orange Hall

 Ulster Women’s Unionist Council

The council was established on 23rd January 1911.  It very quickly developed into a strong, active and democratic body that held the women of Ulster together with one common objective-the resistance to Home Rule for Ireland.  Within just one year of its establishment, the UWUC was notably the largest female political  group in Ireland.  At its height membership was in the region of 115,000-200,000.

Civil War In Ireland

Many women were anxious to play their part in the event of Civil War in Ireland, particularly the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council who proposed, as early as the beginning of 1912, that an Ambulance Society be set up and associated with their organisation.  However, they also became the driving force behind the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Medical and Nursing Corps which was formally in place by the end of 1913.  They believed that each Company of the UVF should have a voluntary female nursing section that could be called upon in the event of Civil War breaking out.  Up until that time various affiliated associations of the UWUC were already offering First Aid and nursing classes in their areas.

Establishing a Nursing Service

The Executive Committee of the Ulster Women’s council then took the initiative in early October 1913, to write to the Medical Board of the Ulster Volunteer Force to ask them to give serious consideration to the idea of a nursing service.  They made plain the urgency of the situation and included how the scheme should be based on the outline of the Voluntary Aid Detachment scheme which operated in Britain under the Red Cross.  They pointed out that volunteers should be trained in First Aid and Home Nursing using material from either the Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance Association.  The medical Board accepted the idea of a nursing service and by mid December 1913 the training scheme was well underway in many areas of the province.

Portadown Women’s Unionist Association

The members of Portadown Women’s Unionist Association had many links with the local Women’s Loyal Orange Institution.  The association in Portadown was a strong and well organised one.  They met in Carleton Street Orange hall.  In August 1913 they held a large meeting in a field in Edgarstown, which was owned by Miss Kate Carleton, to rally against Home Rule.  They held a number of these meetings during the years of the Home Rule Crisis.

The Blacker’s and The Unionist Associations

The President of the Portadown Women’s Unionist Association in 1914 was Mrs Blacker of Carrickblacker. The wife of Major Stewart Ward William Blacker.  During the years of the Home Rule Crisis, Major Blacker took a keen interest in the formation of the Unionist Clubs and in January 1912 he was appointed vice-president of the local men’s Unionist Association in Portadown.  Major Blacker was then appointed commanding officer of the 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force.

Mrs Blacker was described by Mrs Dougan (the Vice President and wife of Bro. Dr George Dougan) as:

“A worthy representative of the Blacker family, the Blacker’s in days gone by have rendered invaluable service to the Unionist Cause”

The Secretary was Mrs C Johnston, her husband was the Chairman of the men’s Unionist Association in Portadown.  The treasurer was Louisa Shillington, the wife of David Graham Shillington and a respected Orangewoman.  David Graham Shillington was an officer of the 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force and also a respected Orangeman.

UVF Hospital at Carleton Street Orange Hall

At the annual meeting of the Portadown Women’s Unionist Association in Carleton Street Orange Hall, in April 1914, the plans were finalised for a volunteer hospital in the Orange Hall.  In the event of an outbreak of civil war in Ireland.

The Orangemen of Portadown had kindly placed the whole building at the disposal of the women should a civil war break out.  It would have been a base hospital.  The Parochial Hall had also been offered as an auxiliary if it was required.  The staff at the hospital would have been as follows:

  • Joint Commandants- Mrs Robb and Mrs Hobson
  • Superintendant Nurse- Miss Marion Stanley
  • Mr WM Fulton- Treasurer
  • Mr Megarry- Quarter Master
  • Mr Robert Anderson – Transport Officer
  • Four trained nurses
  • Forty women trained in first aid nursing

The people of the town and district were generous in their promises to give or lend articles for the hospital and the tradespeople of the town also came forward to offer their services.

The cleaning and cooking was also not over looked.  In the President’s report of the meeting it states that:

“I am glad to be able to tell you that we are extremely well off in both these respects”.

Mrs Davidson was tasked to oversee the cleaning of the hospital along with a large group of willing helpers.  Mrs Dawson, Mrs Wedgewood, Mrs R Lutton and Mrs W Fulton would be responsible for the cooking.

The women had carefully refrained from asking for any money for the hospital.  Although the executive committee of the association had ear-marked £10 of the general fund to be devoted to the use of the hospital if it was required.  It was noted within the Presidents report that:

“I know that should the need really arise, you would all help as much as lay in your power”.

Mrs Blacker stated in her President report that:

“We all pray earnestly that the need for this hospital may never arise, still we must have our preparations made, and our organisation more or less complete, so that in the event of an outbreak we would not be caught napping”.

The Secretary, Mrs C Johnston, read a report on the work done by the Association during the year, which contained the following:

“When we met at our annual general meeting last year, we all fondly hoped that Home Rule would have been dead by this time.  I believe it is dying, but it is not prepared to die, and we need to do everything in our power now to make it impossible for it ever to raise its head again in Ulster”

Canvassing and Newspaper Distribution

Women of the Portadown association often traveled to Britain to canvas support and teach the true facts of the situation in Ireland.  One noted visit in the report of the meeting mentions a, Mrs Weir, who had given a satisfactory account of her canvassing experience in Scotland.

The Association in Portadown, on average posted over one hundred papers each week to Britain.  The importance of this task was emphasised as it resulted in large subscriptions from some of the people to whom the papers were sent.  This task counteracted government propaganda in Britain.

Mrs Johnston worked tirelessly to promote the Unionist cause both as Secretary and as head of the Volunteers Post Office.  Mrs Louisa Shillington, as treasurer, and all the other officers of the Association gave so much of their time and effort in the interests of the Unionist cause.

Mrs Dougan paid tribute to the Ulster Volunteer force during the Association’s meeting stating:

“On the night of the 19th and 20th March when we all believed that wholesale massacre was at hand, and also on Friday night last, every man turned out.  Not one sent an apology or made an appeal to get off.  We hope and trust that they might never have to be mobilised again in similar circumstances, but if they do, they would prove themselves worthy sons of worthy forefathers, and that every man among them would do his duty’.

Outbreak of War

At the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, the Home Rule crisis in Ireland and the threat of Civil War was now overtaken by a much greater force.  The Ulster Volunteer Force and the Irish Volunteers set aside their differences and joined the ranks of Kitchener’s new army.

The outbreak of war propelled the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council into a new cause and for the remainder of the war their active opposition to Home Rule was put aside; the focus was now on how they could actively help on the ‘home front’.

In the early period of the war, the UWUC were actively pursuing various avenues whereby the skills of their newly trained Ulster Volunteer nurses could be utilised immediately and like many other aid organisations, offered their services to the British War Office which were declined.  Not to be deterred an offer was made directly to the French Authorities which was gladly accepted and by 22nd September 1914, arrangments were already in place for the first group of the Ulster Volunteer nurses to proceed to France.

Carleton Street Orange Hall

The Orange Hall became a recruitment office.  On 15th September 1914, 300 men were selected from the 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force.  The men underwent medical examination and were enlisted into the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Carleton Street Orange Hall

 

This is a very small part of a much bigger story to be told through our “Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Exhibition launching September 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Tour Bookings: All you need to know

Summer Tour Bookings: All you need to know

All you need to know about our Summer Tour Bookings.

Bookings for our summer season of tours are now starting to come in.  Since Portadown Heritage Tours was launched in 2017 we have had some great visitors from across the world with genelogical links to the town.

This year is no different.  We are already working on some genealogical research for visitors coming to the town this summer to research their family roots.  A lot of them have had family members in early generations who were in the Loyal Orders.  The family members may not have much knowledge on the Loyal Orders.  We take them on a historical journey and provide as much information as we can.

Tours available to book this summer.

We provide three main tours.  The tour of Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre, Portadown Town Walking Tour and The Siege of Drumcree Tour.  The Siege of Drumcree Tour and Carleton Street Orange Hall Tour are proving popular this year.  For the summer months only, we are offering these two tours as a package tour.  Within this package we provide refreshments to visitors.  We do recommend small bookings of up to four people to get the best experience.

The Portadown Town Walking Tour is a great experience to learn about the development of the town from the plantation years.  The tour follows the story of the ‘Hub of the North’ and the great industrial heritage that led to the town earning that title. Once again we do recommend small groups for the best experience.

General Information and bookings

We are finding that a lot of visitors now are booking all three tours together.  This is great to see although if you are doing that we recommend spreading the tours over a couple of days.  There is quite a lot to take in on the tours and it can be quite intense to do all three in one day.  Although if you thoroughly enjoy history some visitors may not mind this!

There are some dates throughout the summer that the tours are not available. This is due to cultural celebrations within the Loyal Orders.  Those dates are listed below:

  • Saturday 8th June
  • Thursday 11th July – Monday 15th July
  • Saturday 10th August
  • Saturday 21st September-Saturday 28th September

Portadown Heritage Tours operate through donations.  We do have set prices in place for refreshments provided. We have recommended donations for each tour.  For bookings and more information contact our office on 38332010 or book online at www.portadownheritagetours.co.uk.

Launching a new twist to the town tour for families.

In June we will also be launching a Family Fun Town Trail.  This will take the theme of a treasure trail and will be available on certain days throughout the summer.