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.

 

Portadown Arches: Mourneview Street and Queen Street

Portadown Arches: Mourneview Street and Queen Street

The Arches of Mouneview Street and Queen Street provide a great sense of pride and community to local residents.  One thing that has become clear through our journey of discovering the heritage of the local Arches, is the amount of time and effort local residents give to the Arches. The members of the different Arches committees’ throughout the town deserve a lot of recognition for maintaining this great tradition.

Mourneview Street Arch Official Opening

Mourneview Street Arch was unveiled in July 1939 by Sir Knight Alex Adair, District Master of Portadown Royal Black Chapter. The majority of the arch was designed and constructed by Mr Wilson Binks.  The old English lettering of the inscriptions and the glass panels were completed by Mr Joseph Wright.  During the speeches at the opening, both men where congratulated on their success.

The weather conditions were particularly poor for the opening ceremony.  But that did not dampen the spirits of over 1000 people who gathered to witness the official opening.

Portadown Pipe Band and Edgarstown Accordion Band provided the music for the evening. The proceedings of the evening was led by Sir Knight and Brother R J Magowan, Worshipful Master of Edenderry LOL 322.

“It’s Lovely!”

“Isn’t it nice!”

“The Colouring and lettering are beautiful”

‘These exclamations are typical of what a bystander heard at the unveiling of Mourneview Street Arch on Thursday evening last’.

Portadown Times 14th July 1939

 

It is interesting and very appropriate to note that no fewer than nine members of the committee had the first name William; William Baxter, William (Billy) Cooper, William (Billy) Whitten Junior, William Taylor, William (Billy) Magee, William Baxter Junior, William McKeown, William Power Senior and William Power Junior.

The other members of the committee were Teddy Grimason, Arthur Magee, George Whitten, George Hodgen and George Magee.

Queen Street Arch

In 1983, a few of the local residents on the street had the idea of erecting their own Arch at the Thomas Street entrance.  A Committee was formed and a collection was made in the neighbourhood.  Planning permission was requested and granted.

An arch shed was built to store the Arch throughout the year.  The building of the shed was done on a voluntary basis mainly by Mr Paul Trouton, Mr Trevor Bonis, Mr Brian Beattie and a few others.

The Arch was sourced from the Derryadd area; one that was no longer in use.  It was then adapted in size as the steel was too short.  The steel poles were made to measure locally. The wooden structure was built to suit by residents from the street; mainly Mr Paul Trouton and Mr Trevor Bonis.

It was then painted by local residents Mr Paul Trouton, Mr Trevor Bonis and Mr Brian Beattie.  The artwork was completed by Mr Neville Austin and the electric work was completed by Mr George Trouton.  The lettering was done by a local sign-writer Mr Bracken Anderson.

Official Opening

The Queen Street Arch was officially opened on 28th June 1985 by local MP Mr Harold McCusker and dedicated by the Reverend Tom Taylor.

Portadown Defenders Flute Band provided the music during the opening ceremony and a reception was held in the Trouton Household for the dignitaries.

Maintaining the Arch

The Arch was maintained for the first fifteen years by a collection from the residents of the street, but unfortunately due to the change in the population of the area this became unfeasible.

The Arch has been put up each year since with the goodwill of the Trouton family and friends and with the kind help of The Beattie family; who look after the shed and supply the electricity.  It has been refurbished a number of times during its almost thirty five year existence.