‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival of Events

‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival of Events

Portadown Heritage Tours are launching ‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ festival of events.  This week-long festival is taking place during Orange Heritage Week.  The festival will explore the transition of the 4thPortadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force who enlisted into the 9thBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers in Carleton Street Orange Hall in 1914.

 

Recruitment Office

The festival will run from Monday 23rdSeptember until Saturday 28th September. Every room within the hall will feature an exhibition or living history display.  One of the rooms will be converted into an army recruitment office, similar to the one that would have been used in the hall in September 1914.

 

Exhibitions

The festival exhibitions will create a timeline of events looking at the years before the outbreak of war covering the Home Rule Crisis, the Ulster and Irish Volunteer Forces, the Unionist Clubs and the Women’s Unionist Association.  Carleton Street Orange Hall was on standby to become an Ulster Volunteer Force Hospital if Civil War had been declared.   One of the rooms in the hall will be converted into a medical room to showcase what the rooms would have looked like if that had happened.

 

Women and the First World War

Also included is an exhibition on the Suffragettes and Women during the First World War.  There will be an exhibition exploring the famous Blacker and Shillington families of Portadown.  Both families were influential during the First World War, but we also look at the generations before them that paved the way for the development of the Orange Order in the local town.

 

Exploring both Communities

We are exploring the events of 1916 and how the Ulster and Irish Divisions came together to fight at Messines in 1917.  Also, on display will be ‘The Arches of Portadown’.  This exhibition will look at the local triumphal arches in the area including those that are memorials to those who died during the First World War.

 

Event details

The launch night is Monday 23rdSeptember, this is a closed event by invitation only. The festival will open to the public on Tuesday 24thSeptember.  Exhibitions are open Tuesday-Friday 10:30am – 4:00pm and also Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings 7:00pm-9:30pm.  On Tuesday 24thSeptember at 7:00pm there will be talk by Mrs Carol Walker MBE, Somme Association, on ‘Women and the First World War’.  On Thursday 26thSeptember at 7:00pm there will be a talk by local historian Mr Richard Edgar on ‘A Call to Arms: Portadown and the Great War’.

 

The Festival will finish on Saturday 28thSeptember with exhibitions open 10:30am-4:00pm and Portadown District LOL No.1 will also be hosting the Brew for Drew Coffee Morning and Family Fun day from 11am-3pm.  There will be lots to do for all the family at the fun day with Bouncy Castle, Face Painting, Play Area, Balloon Modelling, Games, Arts, Crafts and also special guests!

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.

 

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.

 

 

Apprentice Boys of Derry Exhibition

Apprentice Boys of Derry Exhibition

Apprentice Boys of Derry Exhibition

A new Exhibition has arrived at Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre.  The pop up exhibition explores the history of the formation of the Apprentice Boys of Derry.  The Exhibition is kindly on loan from the Siege Museum, based in Londonderry.

The Siege Museum

The Siege Museum was officially opened in March 2016 and is dedicated to commemorating the history of the Siege of Londonderry 1688-89 and the cultural heritage of the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. There is tours available of the Siege Museum.  It contains three modern galleries which are packed with exciting stories of endurance, defiance, adventure and the legendary bravery of the 13 young apprentice boys!

Apprentice Boys Portadown

Carleton Street Orange Hall is home to the Apprentice Boys of Derry Portadown Branch Club.  The exhibition is a chance to explore memorabilia of the Apprentice Boys and also discover the history behind their formation. Along the way there is also the opportunity to explore the history of the Siege of Londonderry.

Opening Times

The Exhibition is open at Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre for the month of March.  It is open Monday to Thursday 9:00-16:15, Friday 9:00-13:15 and Tuesday evening 19:30-20:30. This is a family friendly exhibition with activities for the kids also available. Exhibition booklets are also available, free of charge.

Tours of Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre

Our usual daily tours of the Orange Hall are also available during the exhibition. Guided tours or audio tours are both available.  This tour is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the history and heritage of Orangeism in Portadown.  Carleton Street Orange Hall has been at the heart of Portadown since 1875.  For more information contact shout@portadownheritagetours.co.uk or call the office on 028 38332010.