The name of Ballymacarrett is described in A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names by Patrick McKay as ‘a suburb of Belfast on the east bank of the Lagan. Irish: Baile Mhic Gearoid ‘McGarrett’s townland’ which derives from the personal name Gearid, Gerald/Garrett.’
Where does the story of Ballymacarrett begin and end in terms of this book? It involves a journey, including old photographs and reminiscences, which begins at Donegall Quay, crosses the River Lagan to Queen’s Quay and Bridge End. Then travels along Newtownards Road, with detours to Dee Street and Harland & Wolff, the Ropeworks and the Connswater River. Another journey begins at the Albert Bridge and travels along Albertbridge Road taking in Madrid Street, The Mount, Castlereagh Street, Owen O’Cork Mill on Beersbridge Road and Skipton Street.
There are views of big houses, small houses, businesses, grand public buildings and churches, schooldays, social occasions, wartime, clubs and societies, public transport including trams, trolleybuses and steam trains, factories and suburbia. Many of these scenes are remarkably unchanged and much of the character of the bustling industrial city remains, while many locations have been swept away and are unrecognizable following recent developments.
In 1881 Samuel Davidson established a factory under the trading name of Davidson & Co at Bridge End for the manufacture of his patented tea-drying and ventilation machinery. The business adopted the ‘Sirocco’ trademark (a familiar sight on the Bridge End factory wall) from the name of the hot wind that blows across North Africa.
Chamberlain tram 371 is travelling along Station Street in the direction of the coal quays to Queen’s Road in 1954, the last year of electric tramcar operation in Belfast. The Belfast & County Down Railway terminus (right) was the headquarters of the company until it closed in 1950 although the building survived until fairly recently.
The Skainos Centre is located at 239 Newtownards Road on the site of the former Newtownards Road Methodist Church (left) which was destroyed during the Blitz of 1941. The first Wesleyan Methodist Meeting House was established on this site during the 1820s.
Christ’s Church Ballymacarrett was consecrated on January 4th 1827 and replaced by a new church building in 1893. By 1889 the Vicar was Canon G.G. Mervyn who changed the dedication of the church from Christ’s Church to St Patrick’s.
Crazy Prices at 264-266 Newtownards Road, approaching Dee Street, was a familiar sight for many years. It was a locally owned business taken over by Stewart’s Supermarkets, also once locally owned, and eventually acquired by Tesco.
Belfast Ropework Company was set up in 1873 with Gustav Wolff as Chairman. The factory site eventually extended to an area of 40 acres and once had a workforce of over 4,000 people. It closed in the 1980s and Connswater Shopping Centre now occupies the site. The Prince of Wales (left) visited on 18th November 1932.
Adam McCune lived at 50 Mount Street, where he is pictured in 1958, and it was also the headquarters of his business ‘East End Window Cleaners’. He started work at 6.00am daily and his customers included the shops on the Albertbridge Road plus the houses in the streets leading to the Woodstock Road and Castlereagh Place. Most of the housing in the vicinity of Madrid Street has since been demolished for re-development.
Fred Jordan (pictured) established his garage repair business at 333-337 Albertbridge Road in 1924. Fred died suddenly in 1941 and his son Stanley, who had been on fire-watching duties during the 1941 Blitz at the Water Commissioner’s office in Donegall Square, took over the running of the business.
At the confluence (or junction) of the Knock River and the Loop River, the combined rivers become the Connswater. The location is known as the ‘Hollow’ and is close to Elmgrove School on Beersbridge Road. It was made famous in the Van Morrison song ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. The small footbridge (left) is called ‘Conn O’Neill’s Bridge’ and is over 400 years old. Somebody once remarked ‘I know of no earlier building in the city (of Belfast), save Conn O’Neill’s Bridge’.