A brief preview of some of the content of the forthcoming ‘Ravenhill’ book.
A look at Lagan Village in 1791 from John Williamson’s Map. Some of the earliest industries at Ballymacarrett were the Downshire Pottery (plus a glasshouse see Ballymacarrett p.25) established by Thomas Greg who was described as ‘probably the wealthiest merchant of his day’. In 1787 he produced fine ceramic pottery creamwares such as cups, saucers, plates and jugs. Downshire Pottery remained in business until 1806. The business was set up in competition with ‘the greatest creamware potter of them all’ Josiah Wedgewood. Next door was Victor Coates’s Pottery making garden pots, tiles and chimney-pots. Nearby was his home ‘Snugbrooke’.
The children in the front row are holding a board with the wording ‘Ravenhill Infants, 1923’ which refers to the Boyd Endowment School. Eight year old Vinty (James Vincent) Craig is standing in the front row, far left. Vinty had a short walk to school as the Craig family lived at 7 St Kilda Street and later moved to 13 Ballarat Street. He had three sisters and one brother. His mother was Sarah Craig (nee Millar) and his father James was described as both a chauffeur and motor driver. During his later working life Vinty worked in a biscuit factory, as an insurance collector for the Co-op and as a postman at Tullycarnet.
The Royal Bakery was established at 64a Ravenhill Road in the early 1900s. The Proprietor was George Stewart (the lone figure standing centre) and the business was situated on the site of a previous bakery owned by a Mr A.C. Cresswell. This is an early 1920s company charabanc outing (see East Belfast Big Houses p.27) and local businessman Samuel Brown (a brother-in-law of George Stewart) is on board along with his wife Esther and (be-hatted) friends as they look forward to a day out. I wonder why the armed police constable is in the photograph.
Company Sergeant Major Stewart Morrow is pictured (left) in 1914 with his wife Sarah (nee Dunlop) and sons Stewart (Jnr) and Thomas. The family home was at 19 Rathmore Street. Stewart died from wounds sustained on 1st July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme and was buried at Dundonald Cemetery. He had been a very popular military instructor at the Willowfield Battalion and his coffin was conveyed on a gun carriage and accompanied by a large cortege. The funeral service was carried out by the Rector of Willowfield Parish Church, Canon Charles William Harding (see Cregagh p.41). Sgt Samuel Kelly (right), Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) ‘for conspicuous gallantry during operations’. He was a son of William Kelly, a compositor, from 9 Madrid Street and also a member of the Willowfield Battalion. He later married Isabella Ranson of 53 Ravenhill Road.
The electrical store premises of L. Ferris and Company were located at 4-6 My Lady’s Road in this 1981 view. At the far end of the terrace at 34 My Lady’s Road (since demolished), next to My Lady’s Inn, was the home of the parents of the business owner Lennie Ferris. Jim Lendrum spent 46 years of his working life at Ferris’s from the 1950s and witnessed great changes in the development of television.
Once the usable bricks resulting from the demolition of Ormeau House had been sold to John Robb for the rebuilding of his warehouse in Castle Place (see Belfast Through Time p.40) the official opening of Ormeau Park was held on Saturday 15th April 1871 and 13,000 spectators attended the event. The Chairman of the Public Parks Committee remarked on ‘the higher orders having their suburban residences and botanical gardens’ whilst ‘the working classes would be able to enjoy their leisure hours on quiet, natural and healthy recreation’. At that time Ormeau Park stretched down to the River Lagan so that visitors could enjoy riverside walks. The Ormeau Embankment road now occupies the site of this footpath.