Category Archives: Louisa Shillington

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 Soldier’s Ordeal: Home for VE Celebrations after 5 years as a Prisoner of War

Portadown Soldier’s Ordeal: Home for VE Celebrations after 5 years as a Prisoner of War

After having spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in the hands of the Germans, Fusilier James Hughes of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers returned home in time to experience the VE Celebrations.

Fusilier Hughes returned to his home at 13 Fowlers Entry, Portadown. He was met at Watson Street Railway Station by Mr R J Magowan, Chairman of the Urban District Council, Mr Geo McGowan, Town Clerk, and Mr R Heathwood, B.E.M.

Fusilier Hughes’ widowed Mother, Mary, and other members of his family were of course overjoyed to see him.  Some of the younger members of the family had never met him.  Some of his younger siblings had only a handful of memories of him before the war and didn’t know what he looked like.

He was described as

“looking little the worse of his long period in German war prisoner compounds”.

First Visit

One of the first visits for Fusilier Hughes on his return was to the News Office.  There he requested a public thank you to be published to the local citizens for their support of the Red Cross Prisoners of War Fund.

“these parcels reached us regularly, though the Germans had been ghoulish enough to open them and merely hand over about half of what was intended for the men to whom they were dispatched”.

Fusilier Hughes

He also acknowledged parcels sent by Mr George Hughes, 13 South Street.  Although he never personally received the packages.

The Parcels

One of the main contributors to the parcels for local men being held in German prisoner of war camps , was Portadown Women’s Orange District.  They worked alongside Portadown Women’s Unionist Association.

Sister Louisa Shillington, was one of the main organisers and a driving force behind donations for the appeal.  It was something close to her heart as she had lost her son, Tom Shillington, and nephew, Geoffrey Shillington Cather, in the First World War.  Her Husband, David Graham Shillington had sadly died in 1944 and never saw the war come to an end.

Louisa Shillington (Nee Collen)
Image courtesy of Shillington Family records

David Graham Shillington was MP for the area and was District Master of Portadown Orange District LOL No 1 right up until his death.  He had been a company commander in the local Ulster Volunteer Force during the Home Rule Crisis and went on to become a Major in the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers during the First World War. He had also took over the family firm T A Shillington & Son (now Haldane and Fisher) after his father died suddenly when he was 16.

Enlistment

Fusilier Hughes, who in civilian life, had been employed by Mr Edward Cassells of Woodhouse Street, enlisted in 1936.

He was taken prisoner at Ypres, Belgium on 27th May 1940.  Some of the places he had been to in the course of his travels across Germany, some of them in forced marches, included Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Marienwerder and Danzig.

Dunkirk

Fusilier Hughes had been in Berlin when the Dunkirk Evacuation took place.  During his incarceration he had acquired a good understanding of the German language.

While a prisoner he was allowed one letter home per week, but since the Normandy Invasion correspondence ceased and at all times contact with German civilians was strictly  forbidden.

The bombing by the RAF and USAAF gave the Allied war prisoners cause for anxiety, as at times their camp had narrow escapes.

Experiences

Fusilier Hughes described the Germans as harsh. On one occasion he escaped from the camp and enjoyed four days of freedom.  He was caught by the Gestapo, taken to their headquarters and severely beaten.

He described the occasions of forced marches as gruelling.   The Supreme headquarters of the Allied Nations had dropped leaflets into Germany demanding more consideration to the welfare of their prisoners, but no improvement in camp conditions was noticed.

Liberation

Liberation came when the 8th American Army reached Hamburg.  The Russian Forces converged at the same time.  Another local man they set free was George McCarragher from Obins Street, Portadown.

Fusilier Hughes arrived by Lancaster at Croydon. There, liberated prisoners of war were met with crowds and fellow servicemen and women to welcome them back. James then continued to Stranraer and arrived back in Northern Ireland via Larne.

Home Thoughts

One thing that surprised Fusilier Hughes on his arrival home was the small extent of the damage by air raids.  In Germany, all the big cities he had passed through were completely flattened.

Fusilier Hughes was given 6 weeks leave with double rations which were to help towards his complete recovery from undernourishment.  He was to rejoin his unit on 28th June 1945.

His Father, the late Mr James Hughes Senior, had served in the 1st World War with The Royal Engineers and The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Sir Robert Hart

Sir Robert Hart

Sir Robert Hart has been described as the ‘the father of China’s modernisation’.

Before the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960’s there were streets, such as ‘Hart Boulevard’ in both Shanghai and Beijing named after him.  In 1910 a life size bronze statue of Hart was erected close to the mouth of Yangtze River to commemorate the life and achievement of a great Ulsterman.  The statue stood for 27 years until it was destroyed by Japanese invaders in 1937.

The statue had the following inscription:

“Inspector General of the Chinese Maritime Customs, Founder of the Chinese Lighthouse service, Organiser and Administrator of the National Post Office, Trusted Counsellor of the Chinese People, Modest, Patient, Sagacious and Resolute, he overcame formidable obstacles, and Accomplished a work of Great Beneficence for China and the World”.

Born In Portadown with Scottish roots.

Robert Hart was born at 42 Woodhouse Street, Portadown, on 20th February 1835.  Henry Hart, Robert’s father, was originally a spirit grocer but he changed to the linen trade when he converted to Methodism.

His mother’s maiden name was Edgar.  His ancestry was Scottish on both sides of the family, his father was of a Plantation family and his mother was descended from Scots who had settled in Ulster several centuries prior to the Plantation.

His mother was a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce (Robert I) who was king of Scotland from 1306 until his death in 1329.

 

Origins in Kilmoriarty and links with Orangeism

The Hart family estate was located in the town land of Kilmoriarty. It was a direct relative of Robert Hart who had taken out the original warrant of LOL 31 on 6th August 1796.  His name was Abraham Hart.

In 1922, Kilmoriarty LOL 31 unfurled a new Banner at the Saunderson Statue in Portadown.  The Banner was unfurled by Sister Louisa Shillington, a leading and founding member of Portadown Women’s District LOL No.3.

During the ceremony, Worshipful District Master W H Wright, of Portadown District LOL No.1 stated in his speech:

“Kilmoriarty LOL has the honour of holding the oldest warrant in the District.  A previous warrant of the lodge was taken out by one of the family of which the late Sir Robert Hart was a distinguished member”.

 

Education and Working Life

Robert Hart was educated at Methodist foundations at Taunton and Dublin and the newly established Queen’s College, Belfast, from which he graduated in 1853. In 1854 Hart arrived in Hong Kong as a member of the British Consular Service in China.  This marked the beginning of his life’s residence in China, which apart from two short periods of leave, would last 54 years. His first appointment was as a supernumerary interpreter to the British vice-consulate in Ningpo, a major port and industrial hub in east China. It was Hart’s skill and efficiency that earned him the admiration of his superiors and resulted in his nomination as secretary to the allied commissioners governing the Canton (now Guangzhou, located northwest of Hong Kong) in March 1858.

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Inspector of Customs

In 1859, Hart resigned to take up the post of local inspector of Customs.  In 1861 he was promoted to acting Inspector-General, and appointed Inspector General of the Chinese Maritime Customs (CMC) in 1863.  He held this position until his retirement in 1908.

“When he became Inspector-General In 1863 the CMC was operating in 7 open ports; by 1907 it was operating in 76 native customs stations under his administration.  He also presided over the servicing of 182 lights, various navigational aids, and 2,800 post offices.  His staff consisted of 11,970 people, of whom 1, 345 were foreigners.  Hart was responsible for generating one third of China’s revenue”.

Marriage and Music

In 1866, Robert Hart married Hester Jane Bredon, eldest daughter of Dr Edward Bredon of Portadown.  They had three children.  Hart found relaxation in music.  He was an amateur Violinist, cellist and composer.  He formed a customs’ band, the ‘mother of bands’, in north China.

Retirement

Robert Hart retired in April 1908.  He had a number of Chinese honorary titles.  He was also honoured by a number of countries including Italy, Portugal, Norway and Holland.

He became Pro-Chancellor of Queen’s University in Belfast.  He always maintained a strong interest in his old College.

In 1971 Hart’s family presented the University with a set of table silverware, the ‘Empress of China’s Silver’.  The silver had been presented to Hart to mark 43 years of service as Inspector-General of Maritime Customs in China.

Sir Robert Hart died in September 1911.

Remembered in Portadown

A Blue Plaque was located outside the home where he was born in Woodhouse Street for many years, before the building was demolished.  The Blue plaque was then relocated to the school named after him, Sir Robert Hart Memorial Primary School, in Charles Street, Portadown.

 

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