Category Archives: World War 2

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.

New Exhibition at Carleton Street Orange Hall

New Exhibition at Carleton Street Orange Hall

Portadown Heritage Tours are hosting the Memorials to Sacrifice Exhibition at Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre for the month of February.

The Memorials to Sacrifice Exhibition highlights Orange Halls, throughout Northern Ireland, that were built as memorials in the aftermath of the Great War.  ‘Memorials to Sacrifice’ is the latest initiative by the Museum of Orange Heritage marking the centenary of the Armistice, and the contribution of members of the Orange Institution on the front line.

Why the Exhibition is so important to Carleton Street Orange Hall.

Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre has its own story to tell about it’s place in the Great War and the many Orangemen of Portadown District who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who came home again.

Carleton Street Orange Hall is home to the Ex-Servicemen’s Lodge and Preceptory of Portadown District.  The Lodge was formed in 1946 after the Second World War and the Preceptory was formed a couple of years later in 1949.  Its members were made up of First and Second World War Veterans.  This year Portadown Ex-Servicemen’s RBP 326 will celebrate its 70th Anniversary.

The reasons these Memorial halls were built after the war reflect the same meaning behind the formation of the Ex-Servicemen’s Lodge.  It was a place ex-soldiers could socialise, reminisce and have a brotherhood after the armed forces.

 

History behind the Exhibition

It is estimated upwards of 20 halls owned or primarily used by Orange Lodges were erected as memorials to Orangemen who paid the supreme sacrifice during the First World War.  Such properties remain actively used by the Institution at locations across Northern Ireland, including Randalstown, Muckamore, Tullylish, Templepatrick, Dungannon and Ballymacarrett in East Belfast.

Accompanying Booklet

There is an accompanying booklet with the exhibition which can be purchased.  The Booklet states;

“The War Memorial Orange Halls were not just erected to provide a meeting place for Lodges and Preceptories, they also provided a place where Ex-Servicemen could meet to socialise and to reminisce.  They also provided a place in which the core values of the Orange Order could be presented to members of the local community”.

The halls were often built by the brethren or by Ex-Servicemen and often had facilities-for example, washrooms, toilets, central heating, electricity- that were still absent in many residential properties.

 

Commenting on the exhibition, museum curator Jonathan Mattison said “We are delighted to launch this educational national travelling exhibition and informative booklet, which underlines the extent and contribution of Orangeism to the Great War, and its lasting legacy for local communities.

Opening Times

The exhibition will be on show in the Heritage Centre of Carleton Street Orange Hall for the month of February.  It will be open Monday-Thursday 9:15am until 4:15pm and Friday 9:15am until 1:15pm.  For visitors who can’t make it during the day, it was also be open on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7:30pm until 8:30pm.

Everyone Welcome!

For parents and guardians, there is also a Kids activity corner available with lots of  fun activities relating to the Great War.  This will keep the kids busy allowing the parents and guardians time to enjoy the exhibition.

 

Exhibition Information provided by Museum of Orange Heritage. 

Sister Irene Wright

Sister Irene Wright

There are a total of 321 Portadown men on the towns war memorial who paid the supreme sacrifice in the 1st World War.  The plaque honouring the dead of the 2nd World War bears the names of 66 men and one woman who died in the 1939-45 conflict.

The woman who died in the 2nd World War was Sister Irene Wright, who served in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services. Irene lived in Park Road, and was educated at Portadown Technical School where she played hockey for the school team. Irene was the daughter of Ernest and Eliza Jane Wright.

At the outbreak of the war she volunteered for the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing service and was sent to Singapore.  Sister Irene Wright was embarked on HMS Kuala, an auxiliary anti-submarine vessel, and it left Singapore on 13th February 1942.

The next morning Japanese aircraft sank Kuala off Pompong Island, 90 miles south of Singapore.  Although there were survivors, Sister Irene Wright was not one of them.  She was lost at sea, and is commemorated on the Singapore memorial.

Irene’s cousin Eva was also a trained nurse and was stationed in London during the Battle of Britain and The Blitz.  Her brother William was a draughtsman at Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Belfast before emigrating to Canada.

Ernest Wright, Irene’s father, served in the 1914-1918 war and was employed in the family bakery at West Street, Portadown.

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World War 2 Air Raid Shelter

World War 2 Air Raid Shelter

The Bann Bridge air raid shelter was discovered in 2005 during the widening and strengthening of the bridge over the river.  It is believed to be one of the last remaining intact Second World War air raid shelters in Northern Ireland.  The unearthing of the air raid shelter coincided with the 60th anniversary of victory in Europe day (VE) on 8th May 2005.  It was decided to cover over the structure to preserve it for future generations of Portadown.

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