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.

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”.

Arrival

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

Platform

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).

Proceedings

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.