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The Twelfth of July 1912: Portadown to Tandragee

The Twelfth of July 1912: Portadown to Tandragee

Twelfth Demonstration at Tandragee: Home Rule Peril


The anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne was celebrated in Portadown on the Twelfth with ‘an enthusiasm which demonstrated that lapse of time only serves to deepen the attachment of the Orangemen and Protestants of this loyal centre to the cause for which their forefathers bled and died’.


“Indeed, the demonstration for proportions and attractiveness far surpassed all its predecessors in this prosperous neighbourhood and formed a fitting reply to those who would have the British electorate believe that Ulster is weakening in its opposition to Home Rule”.


The streets were decorated to the highest of standards for the historical occasion.  The Triumphal Arches, along with rows of streamers, spanned the main streets and roadways leading to the town.


The Arch in Edenderry, had at the centre, a well-executed model of the gates of Derry.  Opposite the Orange Hall in Carleton Street, there was a particularly ‘nice Arch which attracted a great deal of attention and was generally admired by the Brethren who passed under it’.  Thomas Street was adorned with a ‘very striking and beautiful arch, which reflected credit on the artistic taste of those responsible for its production’.


The Procession

Shortly after 9:00am the Brethren of the country Lodges started to arrive in Carleton Street.  ‘For some time afterwards Carleton Street and the thoroughfares adjoining presented an animated appearance’.


“The growth of the Orange Institution in the Portadown District is remarkable, and during this past year its ranks have been added to by an unusually large number of new adherents”.


Off to Tandragee

When the procession had been formed the brethren started on their long march to Tandragee, where a ‘monster demonstration’ was held.  The procession was described as an ‘imposing one’ and ‘formed striking proof of the strength and influence of the Orange Society in this district’. 

Portadown District was led by the Worshipful District Master Brother William H Wright, Deputy District Master Brother David Moore, Chaplin’s Reverend Townley-Tilson, Brother William Jones and Brother R S Morrison, District Secretary Brother Valentine Wilson, District Treasurer Brother William Best and the Committee, Brothers John Patton, David Carrick, F W White, John Joyce and R H Hampton.


The Following Lodges represented Portadown District and were led by the Worshipful Masters:


  • LOL 7 WM: David Carrick
  • LOL 8 WM: Samuel John Smyth
  • LOL 9 WM: James Uprichard
  • LOL 10 WM: Dawson McAdam
  • LOL 13 WM: John Boyce
  • LOL 18 WM: G E Toal
  • LOL 19 WM: John Hobson
  • LOL 20 WM: William Brownlee
  • LOL 25 WM: Robert J Freeburn
  • LOL 31 WM: Alex McMurray
  • LOL 35 WM: R D Hampton
  • LOL 40 WM: David Moore
  • LOL 56 WM: David Rock
  • LOL 58 WM: J Livingstone
  • LOL 78 WM: William James Dowd
  • LOL 80 WM: John Joyce
  • LOL 81 WM: John Lappin
  • LOL 89 WM: William Best
  • LOL 99 WM: Thomas Albiu
  • LOL 107 WM: Robert H England
  • LOL 127 WM: E McCann
  • LOL 172 WM: James McBroom
  • LOL 273 WM: William D Ruddock
  • LOL 322 WM: David Bright
  • LOL 339 WM: John Hughes
  • LOL 371 WM: Richard Hobson
  • LOL 395 WM: William J Magee
  • LOL 417 WM: John Patton



Speeches and the Home Rule Crisis

When the procession entered the field, they took up their designated positions around the platform.  Thousands congregated to hear the speeches, with special interest in the two Unionist representatives present, Sir John Lonsdale and Mr William Moore.


The chair at the meeting was occupied by Sir James Stronge, County Grand Master.  The proceedings were opened by the Reverend Andrew Dowds, who was rector of Aughnavilly, he opened in Prayer and the crowd sang the hymn ‘O God our help in ages Past’.


A number of speeches followed which centred around the Home Rule Crisis.  The speakers were Brother Sir James Stronge, Sir John Lonsdale, Mr William Moore, Brother W J Allen and Brother W H Wright.




The Historical Significance of Triumphal Arches

The Historical Significance of Triumphal Arches

Ulster Arches

In Ulster, Triumphal Arches form part of the wider cultural commemorations and celebrations of the Williamite Wars of 1688-1691.  Loyal Order Parades, Band Parades, Bonfires, Flags, Bunting and Murals are also used as part of the commemorations and celebrations.

The Arches displayed during the cultural Celebrations and Commemorations in Portadown and across Ulster are known as Triumphal Arches.


Edenderry Arch

Triumphal Arches

Triumphal Arches are monumental structures consisting of at least one arched passageway.  They are often erected to honour an important person or to commemorate a significant event.  Triumphal Arches are often built to span either a street or roadway that a triumphal procession will pass under.

Triumphal Arches originate from ancient Roman Architecture.  They were first built around the 2nd Century.  The Arches were built all over the Roman Empire to commemorate military triumphs and other significant events such as the accession of a new Emperor.

Thiepval Memorial, France


Around the World

There are famous Triumphal Arches all over the world.  Some of the most famous include the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Arch of Constantine in Rome, the Menin Gate in Belgium and the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy, France.


Mourneview Street

The Arches of Portadown

Outside of Belfast, Portadown has always took centre stage for the wide variety of Arches displayed. The number of Arches displayed in Portadown during the cultural celebrations and commemorations is a testimony to the town’s proud title of ‘The Orange Citadel’.

The earliest reference to an Arch in Portadown can be found in the House of Commons Journal (Hansard).  It was erected in July 1835 in Woodhouse Street.


The Arches throughout the town are looked after by individual committees.  The individuals on the committees dedicate a lot of time throughout the year to raising funds for the Arches and also maintaining their upkeep.  Without these hardworking individuals in the community the Arches would not be put up for all to enjoy as part of the Cultural Celebrations.


South Street

The Bonfires to Celebrate VE Day 1945

The Bonfires to Celebrate VE Day 1945

Bonfires have been used for centuries to celebrate and mark historical occasions.  The VE Celebrations were no different.

Organised Bonfires were set alight at several locations in the town.  The first one was ignited in High Street.

An effigy of Hitler was the source of entertainment when it was carried through the town. The effigy was hoisted on to scaffolding by locals with the help of Servicemen, including Belgian Soldiers, who were ‘delighted with the experience’ and the introduction to the Northern Ireland Bonfire Tradition.

The large collection of boxes and timber of all descriptions made up the bonfire.  It was set on fire and the crowds cheered as the effigy went up in flames.

Main Bonfire

The main Bonfire of the evening took place in the Fair Green.  The local Boy Scouts, under the guidance and leadership of Commissioner Cyril Abraham, had built the large structure.

A large crowd of people gathered to watch. The occasion was opened  by the band of the Salvation Army.  They played the hymns ‘O God our Help in ages past’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

Dr George Dougan MP and District Master of Portadown Orange District LOL No 1 led the speeches.

“We are met here to celebrate  the greatest victory ever, this will become more apparent as we see the fruits of the success.  We are this evening honouring the Boy Scouts who have arranged this fire.  The future of this district in particular and the province in general, is in good hands when guided in any way by Boy Scouts who carry out work of great usefulness”.

Captain Ian Graham of the Royal Army Service Corps had connections with scouting in America.  In his speech he stated:

“I am greatly honoured at being asked to join the ceremony this evening. It would give American Scouts great pleasure if they knew an American Scout had been invited to the proceedings “.

Mr R J Magowan, Chairman of the Urban District Council, stated:

“Once again we see that where the Union Jack flies man is free.  Portadown has played a wonderful part in the waging of the war during the past 5 or 6 years.  Every section of service has had its share of the support of their people, the Armed Services, Shipyards, Factories, Civil Defence , Home Guard and the farms.  We all feel proud of the triumph which has been achieved and that our province is still attached to the British Empire”.

“Portadown is very proud of all of her Men and Women in H.M Services and it remains for those at home to make this a better place to which they will return”.

Speeches were also heard from Mr H Murray, President of the the British Legion and Mr W.A Mullen.

A Community Together

Mr T A Shillington, President of the Portadown and District Boy Scouts Association, placed a lighted torch to the bonfire. The Bonfire was a mass flame in a few short minutes and spread ‘light across the entire neighbourhood’.

As the fire burned the Band led the people in community singing. Mr Joshua Bell had led the proceedings with announcing those giving speeches.  He finished with the famous lines from Laurence Binyon’s poem in memory of the fallen ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’.  This was followed by ‘a short silence of respect to the gallant dead’.

The Lords prayer was recited by the Rev H W Plunkett.  The crowd sang the hymn ‘Abide with me’ and the National Anthem concluded the event.


The burning of the effigy of Hitler was described as:

“symbolic of the ending of the Nazi tyranny of mind and soul, and the lighting of the four torches symbolised the four freedoms and the rekindling of a new home of freedom, brotherhood and peace for mankind”.

Other Bonfires

Bonfires were set alight in several other locations in the town.  Some of those recorded in our archives are John Street, South Street and Meadow Lane. The Bonfires were described as a ‘magnificent event’.

Especially for the young children who experienced them for the first time.  The normality of Bonfires being built and set alight in July to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne had not happened for the duration of the 2nd World War.









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”.


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


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).


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.






Portadown Arches: Carleton Street

Portadown Arches: Carleton Street

 Carleton Street: David Rock Memorial Arch

In July 1939 the David Rock Memorial Arch was unveiled in Carleton Street.  Sir William Allen and Lady Allen were present.  There was a large gathering in the street and the Arch was unveiled by Mrs S A McDonald, JP, Cranagil.  Sir William Allen DSO, MP presided.

The Arch was described as an “imposing structure which is a credit to the designers, and is a worthy perpetuation of the memory of Brother Rock”.


Opening of the David Rock Memorial Arch in Carleton Street

David Rock

David Rock was one of the most distinguished men to have held office in Portadown District LOL No.1.  He held the position of District Secretary. He also served as Worshipful Master of his Lodge, Prince of Wales LOL 56.  He was Deputy Grand Master of Ireland.  He was also Worshipful Master of Carrickblacker Guiding Star RBP 503 and Deputy District Master of Portadown Royal Black District Chapter No.5.


David Rock MBE JP


David was a leading citizen in Portadown.  He topped the voting polls on many occasions in the Portadown Urban District Council elections.  He also served as Chairman of Portadown Urban District Council for several years and worked tirelessly on behalf of both communities.

His greatest contribution to Portadown was in the early 1920’s at the time of Partition.  The IRA launched a terrorist offensive across Ulster.  This affected many large towns.  David was a Senior Officer in the Ulster Special Constabulary and maintained strict discipline over his men.

When four Portadown ‘A’ Specials were kidnapped by the IRA at the border, David led patrols of Specials to prevent reprisals against the Nationalist Community.  Negotiations between Unionist leaders and Orange leaders, including David Rock, and the IRA resulted in the four Specials being released unharmed.

A leading Nationalist member of Portadown Urban District Council paid tribute to David saying “David Rock had more than anyone kept the peace in Portadown”.  This was echoed by Joe Devlin Nationalist MP for West Belfast at a function in Portadown in 1923.

Under David Rock’s leadership, the Orange Order in Portadown flourished, with a number of new lodges being formed.  David Rock died on 16th October 1937 and thousands attended his funeral at St Saviours The Dobbin.

David Rock’s headstone reads “A noble and unselfish example of a true Orangeman”.

An imposing and handsome structure

Surmounted by three Gothic Arches, the structure was completed with symbols of the Orange and Black Institutions.  An open Bible occupied a prominent position and the memorial attribute was indicated in a black and white finish.  There were two photographs of Brother Rock, which were taken by Brother W J Moffett, in the centre of the structure.  One portrayed him as an Orangeman and the other as a Sir Knight.


“The people of Carleton Street are making a ‘strong pull’ to have their new arch erected in good time for the ‘Twelfth’, and we understand that it will be really worthy memorial to the late Brother David Rock, MBE JP, in the street in which he spent such a big part of his life”.

– Portadown Times April 1939

Valuable Help

Orange Lodges and Royal Black Perceptories gave valuable help towards the Arch.  Funds for the arch was raised through subscriptions.

Below is listed the subscriptions made by Lodges and Perceptories.  The subscriptions were published in newspapers at the time.

  • LOL 56 -£3 3s
  • LOL127- 5s
  • LOL 31- 5s
  • LOL 99- 5s
  • LOL 273 -5s
  • LOL 417 -5s
  • LOL 58 -10s
  • RBP 466- 10s 6d
  • RBP 744- 10s
  • RBP 199- 5s
  • RBP 267- 5s

Sadly, the Carleton Street Arch was erected only once.  The 2nd World War broke out in September 1939 and the Arch was put into storage.  There are no records available as to what happened the Arch after the 2nd World War.