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”.
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’.
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 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.
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.