Category Archives: Carleton Street Orange Hall

Orangemen Return to Carleton Street Orange Hall 1944

Orangemen Return to Carleton Street Orange Hall 1944

Before Victory in Europe in 1945, the Orangemen and Orangewomen of Portadown could return to Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The Hall had been under military control to both the British and American Troops at different periods of time during the 2nd World War.

To mark the occasion a function was held in the Town Hall in 1944.

“The large and enthusiastic representative audience spoke volumes for the virility of the Order in the Portadown District and augurs well for its future progress here”.

 

The assembly room in the Town Hall was ‘attractively decorated’ with bunting, greenery and flowers.  This added a ‘welcome touch of warmth’.

“Everyone was in good spirits and keen to resume the good work of the order”.

Dr Dougan and the Orange Influence

In his opening address, District Master Dr George Dougan said that ‘they had a great deal for which to be thankful for.  They were grateful to get back again and it would make a great difference to the Order in the District’.

In his speech conclusion, Dr Dougan conveyed to the meeting a message of good wishes from sister Louisa Shillington, widow of the former District Master, Major David Graham Shillington.

Service

Parkmount Flute Band led the music entertainment, their conductor was Brother Albert Wilson.  Songs were performed by Brother Harold McAfee, Brother Leslie Hurst and Brother Jack Menaul.

Secretary of the Orange Hall Committee, Brother Herbert Whitten, who had been at the forefront of all negotiations with the British and American Military authorities regarding the Hall, gave an interesting survey of matters concerning the hall since its requisition by the military.

A number of speeches followed.

The Ladies

There was a short interval in the service and tea was served.  This was provided by two of the Women’s Orange Lodges, WLOL 62 and WLOL85. The District Mistress, Sister Dougan, organised the refreshments ‘with an efficiency that earned the praise of all present’.

With the interval over, Parkmount Flute Band once again took to the stage to provide musical entertainment.

Presentation

One surprise item came at the end of the evening.  Mr Callender Bullock made a presentation (on behalf of his wife) from the members of Portadown Women’s Unionist Association, to Dr George Dougan.  It was a ‘beautiful paper knife’.

The evening Concluded with the National Anthem.

 

 

Portadown Streets are decorated for VE Day 1945

Portadown Streets are decorated for VE Day 1945

The Portadown people rose to the occasion of the VE Celebrations as flags and bunting were displayed throughout the town.

“There was a splash of colour on every hand.  Most prominent, as might be expected was the Union Flag and this was closely followed by that of the USA and the USSR.  Of the other flags there was a good proportion of the national emblem of Belgium, whose troops are on local soil. It was a nice gesture on the part of so many of our citizens to lay more than usual emphasis on the exhibition of the Belgian flag”.

Extra lighting

The Northern Ireland Electricity Board had increased the available restricted lighting facilities in the Main Street. This was supplemented by illumination from several of the shops, the shop owners had allowed their lights to remain burning.

Shops were also decorated for the occasion.  Those given particular mention in the records are R Corbett & Sons and A J Eakins.  They are described as ‘exquisitely decorated’.

Well known buildings

The Town Hall facade was described as a “work of art and it looked very pretty in the reflection of the floodlights when darkness fell”.  The flags of the Union and many of the Allied countries were displayed on flag poles outside.  There was also boxes of flowers in the windows.

The Regal Cinema also had a similar display of flags and at night it was ‘brightly illuminated’.

Orange Halls

There was also an attractive display of flags and bunting at Carleton Street Orange Hall.  All the other Orange Halls throughout Portadown District also rose to the occasion.

“It is impossible to detail what was done in every street to signalise the spontaneous outpouring of joy and gratitude which found an outlet everywhere  in town”.

 

Mourneview Street

Mourneview Street is given particular mention in the archives.  ‘The Air Raid Shelter was painted red, white and blue and surmounted by ‘V’ signs’.  On top a loud speaker relayed the radio programmes.  The street is described as being “profusely decorated with bunting reaching across the roadway at every possible point and Union Jacks floating from the residences”.

Three residents donned ‘German’ clothing, one impersonating Hitler and the other two his guards.  Their appearance caused much laughter for the street and a collection from the residents was donated to the local nursing society.

One resident, Mrs Doak of 22 Mounrneview Street, caused quite a stir with her famous curtains in her sitting room.  They were made from red, white and blue material.  Mrs Doak had first put them up during the 1901 celebrations at the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.  The other occasion which they had made an appearance was during the Armistice period in 1918.

The same spark which animated the Mourneview Street residents was also to be found in all the other districts of the town.

Marley Street’s Unique Decorations

The local Roman Catholic communities had their premises and residences decorated with bunting and the flags of the Allied Nations during the celebrations. In Marley Street for example, a huge Union Jack hung right across the centre of the roadway, while other decorations included a blood-stained ensign brought home from Palestine by one of the many men from the vicinity serving in H.M Forces.

St Patrick’s Hall in Thomas Street was also decorated inside and outside, while St Patrick’s Recreation Club premises in Thomas Street was also decorated.

Post Office

The telephone operators at Portadown Exchange reported ‘a big increase in the number of calls being made, even the cross-channel lines being kept more busy’.  Nevertheless, at the GPO time was found to decorate the whole building before work began.

 

The rise of the Women’s Orange Institution in Portadown: 1923

The rise of the Women’s Orange Institution in Portadown: 1923

In 1923 the Unionist Women of Portadown and District became the leading force for Women joining the Loyal Orange Order in increasingly large numbers.

The first Portadown Lodge of the Women’s Orange Institution, WLOL 62, was formed in Carleton Street Orange Hall in 1921. By 1923 the town had three flourishing Women’s Lodges.  In the same year Women’s Lodges were also opened at Tamnificarbet and Bannfoot.

A special meeting of the officers of Portadown Women’s LOL No. 62 was held in Carleton Street Orange Hall in May 1923.  The purpose of the meeting was to install the first officers of Portadown Women’s District LOL No.3.

The Formation of Portadown District Women’s LOL No.3

The chair was occupied by Sister Martin, Grand Secretary, who acted as installing officer. Sister Martin was assisted by Sister Beatty, Deputy Worshipful Mistress, Antrim.  Also present at the meeting was the Worshipful Mistress and Officers of Clounagh Women’s LOL.   Brother W.H Wright and Brothers Hamilition, Patton, Bell and Jenkinson represented the Men’s District.

After the Installation, Sister Martin addressed the officers, congratulating them and Portadown on ‘being raised to the position of a District, and stating that Newtownhamilition Women’s LOL would also be attached to their District’.

The First Worshipful Mistress of Portadown District

The chair was then taken by Sister McDonald, Deputy Grand Mistress of Ireland, who thanked those present for unanimously electing her to the position of the first Worshipful Mistress of Portadown District.  In her speech she urged all to “live up to the high religious ideals for which the association was instituted”.

Brother Wright congratulated the Sisters on the success of the order in Portadown.  He said:

“the Women’s Loyal Orange Lodge was a good united sisterhood banded together in a religious order for the uplifting of the people”.

 

Formation of WLOL 101

It was during this meeting that the officers of the newly formed Women’s Lodge No.101 of Edenderry were also installed by Sister Martin:

Worshipful Mistress: Sister Jessie Collen

Deputy Mistress: Sister Morgan

Chaplin: Sister Hoy

Secretary: Sister Sullivan

Treasurer: Sister Campbell

Committee: Sister Haack

                      Sister McCrory

                      Sister Smith

                      Sister Taylor

                      Sister Allen

 

Influence of Women’s Orange Lodges

Brother John Patton and R.H Bell spoke in appreciative terms regarding the influence of Women’s Orange Lodges, ‘congratulating Sister Collen on her appointment as Worshipful Mistress’ and the Lodge on having made such a “splendid choice”.

Both Brethren felt assured that “the Lodge would prove a credit to both Edenderry and Killycomaine”. 

All present were afterwards entertained to tea by sisters of the newly formed Lodges.

Over the period of the next few years a number of other Women’s Orange Lodges were formed within Portadown District Women’s LOL.

Ghost Tours are back this October!

Ghost Tours are back this October!

As we welcome the month of October, it means Portadown Heritage Tours is on the countdown to the start of our Ghost Tours!

Ghost Tour Season

Join us for our walking Ghost Tours in Portadown Town on selected dates in October.  Tours last approximately one hour.  The tour is based on local stories and folklore.  The tour is not a paranormal investigation.  There is no individuals dressed up along the route to jump out at visitors.  It is a relaxed tour where we pass on local folklore that has been done for generations.

The Stories

A number of ghost stories are told along the route including those from published documents,  local newspaper reports and those told round the fire in years gone by.  Stories include public executions from the early 1800’s, apparitions that appeared after the 1641 rebellion and the local legends regarding the banshee.

Family and Community

We often get asked about children coming on the ghost tours.  We have had children as young as eight on the tours.  It is completely up to parents/guardians to decide if the tour is suitable for individual children.  Every Child is different.  Also a positive aspect of our ghost tours is that they are completely cross community and suitable for everyone.  Don’t let the fact the tour starts at Carleton Street Orange Hall put you off, as our first ghost is in the Orange Hall.

Booking, Price and Dates Avaliable

Dates available are Thursday 10th October, Wednesday 16th October, Tuesday 22nd October, Thursday 24th October, Tuesday 29th October and Wednesday 30th October.  Adults are priced at £4.00 and Children (14 and Under) are priced at £2.00.

Majority of the tours start at 7:00pm from Carleton Street Orange Hall but this may vary by date.  The start time will be confirmed at the time of booking.

Booking is essential as due to insurance purposes we can only take a limited number of visitors out at any one time.  Visitors can not just show up on the night of the tour to take part, a prior booking is essential.

To book, contact the office on 028 38332010 or email shout@portadownheritagetours.co.uk.  We also accept bookings via private message on Facebook just search ‘Portadown Heritage Tours’.

Wednesday 30th October is filling up fast! Last year ghost tours were completely sold out, so be quick if you would like to come along.

 

 

 

‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival Success

‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival Success

‘Our Loyalty is Not For Barter’

Portadown Heritage Tours hosted a very successful Orange Heritage Week in Carleton Street Orange Hall with ‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival.  The name of the Festival was taken from a quote in a letter that Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Ward William Blacker sent to the men of Seagoe Parish in the town on 4th September 1914.  Edward Carson first used the quote during a speech in Belfast a few days before.  The festival of events explored the transition of the 4thPortadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force into the 9thBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and their journey from enlisting at Carleton Street Orange Hall to fighting for King and Country.

Service of Remembrance

The Festival was officially launched on Monday 23rdSeptember with a Drumhead Service of Remembrance.  A plaque was unveiled by Grand Master Edward Stevenson, in memory of the men of the 4thPortadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force who enlisted into the 9thBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers in Carleton Street Orange Hall in September 1914.

 

Exhibitions on Display

Every room in Carleton Street Orange Hall was transformed into a different exhibition.  Exhibitions included a Recruitment Office, Field Hospital, The story of Portadown men on the Western Front; which included personal stories and letters that had been sent home, Memorials to Sacrifice, The Blacker and Shillington families of Portadown, Women and the First World War; including Portadown Women’s Unionist Association and the members who went on to form the first Women’s Orange Lodges in the town between 1921 and 1923, The Home Rule Crisis, Unionist Clubs, Formation of the Ulster and Irish Volunteers and the story of the 36thUlster Division and the 16thIrish Division together at Messines in 1917 and also Portadown’s Memorial Arches.

 

Talks and Presentations

It was a busy week with living history displays and talks also taking place.  Mrs Carol Walker from the Somme Association delivered an excellent presentation and talk on the suffragettes and the role of women in the First World War.  Also, local Historian, Richard Edgar delivered an equally excellent presentation and talk on Portadown’s role in the First World War and explained personal stories and experiences about local men who went to fight for King and Country.

Bringing History to Life

In the early planning stages of the festival, Portadown Heritage Tours had looked at the events that happened in the hall after the volunteers had enlisted, but before they left to train and fight.  These events included tea dances for the soldiers and their families.  So, on Friday 27thSeptember, Portadown Heritage Tours hosted a Ladies Night with a Tea Party for the ladies of the local Women’s Orange Institution.  A ladies night was chosen to pay tribute to the local women who contributed so much towards the Home Rule Crisis and the War Effort.

Success

The festival was concluded on Saturday 28thSeptember with a family fun day, a more modern twist on the family events that where held in 1914.

The festival proved very popular with an excellent number of visitors recorded.  Local Schools and Boys Brigade also enjoyed the festivities.

Special Thanks

Portadown Heritage Tours would like to express their gratitude of thanks to everyone involved in the festival.

Star of David Accordion Band, Edgarstown Accordion Band, Pride of the Birches Accordion Band, Portadown Defenders Flute Band, Hilhaven Flute Band, Corcrain Flute Band, Colour Party Portadown Ex Servicemen’s LOL 608 and RBP 326, Royal Irish Fusiliers Association Portadown Branch, Piper David Hogg, Rev Maurice Laverty, Grand Master GOLI Edward Stevenson, Drew Rowan, Ashley Forbes WW1 Exhibits, The ladies of  Carleton over 50’s, David Weir and Craigavon Museum Services, Carol Walker Somme Association, Northern Ireland Historical Airsoft Society, Richard Edgar, Carleton Street Community Development Association, Brilliant Trails, Museum of Orange Heritage Belfast, Lodges and Individuals who kindly loaned artefacts, the Ladies of the local Women’s Orange Institution, Castle Kings Bouncy Castle Hire, Friendly Faces, Portadown District LOL No.1 and all our volunteers for all the hard work putting the exhibition together.

‘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.

 

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

 

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.