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”.
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 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
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.