Welcome to Belfast Between The Wars, a blog showcasing a range of interesting stories written in and about Belfast between the end of the First World War in 1918 and the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. 

  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast News-Letter, Wednesday 31st December 1924


A wedding solemnised according to the Jewish custom took place in the Carlton Restaurant, Belfast, at half-past seven last night, the contracting parties being Mr. Henry Wolf, London, late of the London Rifle Brigade, and Miss Emma Ross, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Ross, Ermington, Marlborough Park, Belfast.


About three hundred guests attended the marriage ceremony, at which the officiating clergyman was the Rev. P. Fassenfeld, London, uncle of the bride, who was assisted by the Rev. S. D. Barnett, Belfast.


The bride, who was given away by her father, looked very pretty in a dress of silver tissue, in ermine tails, beaded with silver. She also wore a white tulle veil, which was held in place by a silver coronet, and carried a bouquet of orchids, carnations, and lily of the valley.


The bridesmaids were the Misses Flora and Mai Ross, sisters of the bride; whilst Mrs. C. Benjamin, London was the matron of honour. Miss Flora Ross wore a beautiful gown of fuchsia georgette, beaded with Rhinestone; whilst Miss Mai Ross’s dress was of oxidised silver and mauve. Both wore coronets of silver. Mrs. Benjamin wore a gown of crystal beaded cyclamen georgette, and like the bridesmaids, she carried a bouquet of pink carnations. Mr. E. Isaacs acted as best man.


During the ceremony the bride and bridegroom stood under a canopy of crimson velvet, adorned with gold beading and white chrysanthemums. Wagner’s “Bridal March” and the “Wedding March”, by Mendelssohn, were played on the organ by Mr. Louis Werner.


At the wedding dinner, which was prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Mosaic Code, the bride’s father presided and the toasts of “The King” and “The Governor of Northern Ireland” were heartily honoured. The health of the bride and bridegroom was proposed by Mr. B. J. Fox, B.L., and acknowledged by Mr. Wolf. The other toasts were “The Parents,” given by Mr. M. Goldring, and responded to by Mr. Ross; and “The Guests,” proposed by Mr. M. E. Miller, and responded to by Mr. James Campbell.


The honeymoon is to be spent on the Continent, and the bride’s travelling dress is a French creation of beige duvetyn, with which she will wear a black satin hat trimmed with ospreys and a moleskin wrap.


To view a selection of images of the Carlton Restaurant where the wedding was held click here.


Special Collections at Queen’s has been developing a varied collection of books and archival material relating to Jewish heritage in Ireland. Click here to read more about it.


Belfast Telegraph, Thursday 18th July 1929


BREAK INTO VERSE ABOUT IT


SAYS THEY WORK IN PARTY FROCKS


(By “A Girl in the Crowd.”)


You’ll be surprised, I suppose, to learn that Belfast typists go to work in bare legs and flimsy party frocks.


A correspondent has just forwarded a cutting from a Sydney (New South Wales) newspaper, in which the above interesting information is given as a news item, together with these lines:-


“Alas! We might have guessed how things would be when Ireland broke from English rule at last. Dour Ulster Presbyterians agree. The Belfast girl becomes a belle that’s fast! Dublin and Cork look at them with dismay, and Limerick and Wexford make a fuss – they shake their heads in sorrow and they say – “These Belfast girls are too bl-fast for us.”


The “Daily Guardian,” Sydney, which printed that would be sadly disappointed, I’m afraid, were they to send a photographer over to snap this bare-legged, party-frocked army!


Extraordinary things are even yet believed in certain countries concerning Ireland. In a vague sort of way people still imagine we all have red hair, and that we walk round in our bare feet wagging shillelaghs, and that kind of thing. But the accusation of our being fast is a novel one. Even a little French schoolgirl, writing an essay on Ireland, came to the conclusion that “Irish people are not wicked, but foolish. They keep pigs, and have red cheeks.” (I don’t know whether it’s the pig-keeping part of it she considers foolish, but, at any rate, she dismisses us of the charge of being wicked.)


THE OBSERVED OF ALL OBSERVERS


To get back to the bare-legged typists who go to work in flimsy party frocks, it occurs to me that the “Sydney Guardian” hasn’t much idea of the weather to which we are subject to in Northern Ireland. Except on occasional days the above kind of dress would result in an epidemic of pneumonia among typists of Belfast. There’s another aspect of it, however. I mentioned the other day that a little American girl visitor found herself the cynosure of all eyes in Belfast because she wore no stockings. It reminds me what was told of another unfortunate girl who dared to play bare-legged tennis, and travelled via tram to her club with – er – nude ankles, in June.


En route she said she couldn’t have received more horrified looks had she been walking about with measles or smallpox. One old boy in particular blushed so profusely and looked so annoyed that she was afraid he’d get apoplexy. Mind you, that same old boy, I’m convinced, would sit on the beach with a straw hat on the back of his head, and read the “Presbyterian Messenger,” and not turn a hair at a bevy of youth and beauty sun-bathing around him. Such a queer old world it is that while you won’t offend anyone in a hundred at Ballyholme Bay if you walk around there in a bathing costume, try the same crowd and the same costume at Castle Junction, and you’ll probably be arrested. In a way, there’s not much sense in it, but there it is, and because of it we are not more prudish than any other little corner of the world.


Will the “Daily Guardian” Sydney, New South Wales, kindly take note, however, that most Belfast typists are not earning much magnanimous salaries as to afford to sport their party frocks at work, and that one wretched girl who dared bare her legs got so many cold stares that she thought it would be kind of warmer to get back to hosiery. And that’s that!

You can view images of Castle Junction on National Museums NI's website.


You can view images of Ballyholme on National Museums NI's website.


  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday 1st January 1935


NEVER-FAILING MANIFESTATIONS OF HOPE AND EXPECTATION


GREETINGS AND SONG


Long before eleven o’clock last night crowds of Belfast people started to gather on the streets and at the corners by the Albert Memorial to watch for the actual moment of the passing of the old year and the coming of the new, and for fully three-quarters of an hour before midnight the surrounding streets were almost impassable in traffic. People were coming up singly, in pairs, and in groups of a dozen or so, and periodically accordion bands marched up followed by large processions.


Most of the people were chatting animatedly about the occasion, and from the few scraps of gossip which it was possible to hear above the general buzz of conversation and the playing of musical instruments, the majority of them seemed to be very well satisfied with the old year. The slight but definite signs of trade revival, and the improvement of financial conditions, have apparently filled the hearts of the people with new hope and expectation.


As more and more people arrived the buzz of talk gradually grew almost into a roar, which still increased right up to a few minutes before the hour of midnight, though there were a few solitary, and rather pathetic, figures who stood alone with their eyes fixed on the dial of the clock. As the hour grew nearer a sensible feeling of anticipation seemed to animate the scene. Expressions grew more intent, and voices more subdued.


THE HUSH OF MIDNIGHT


The first stroke of midnight cast a solemn and impressive silence on the crowd with startling suddenness, and for the space of about ten seconds not a sound could be heard save the hooting of occasional motorcars in more distant parts of the city.

Then, as though the spell which had bound them had been suddenly broken, spontaneous cheering burst from the whole crowd, and friends shook hands and couples embraced each other with good wishes and felicitations.


Small groups linked hands and danced round in light-hearted gaiety, while others started singing “Auld Lang Syne.” The general hilarity in welcome of the New Year continued without abatement for a quarter of an hour, after which, as though mindful of their good resolutions to go to bed early and such-like undertakings, the crowd began to melt away – at first by couples and in small numbers, and gradually in an increasing stream, until, before the New Year was half-an-hour old, the locality had resumed its normal night-time placidity, which was ruffled only by the passing of an occasional tram and by a few enthusiastic singers who remained on the scene.


The normal rhythm of life had been resumed. Carnival dances were held all over the city and were attended by gay crowds who welcomed the New Year with great enthusiasm, whilst in Belfast Cathedral and many of the city churches impressive watch-night services were held. There were large congregations who observed the passing of the old year and the dawn of the new in prayer and praise.


To find out more about the history of the Albert Clock and how it was saved from toppling over click here.


You can view images of the Albert Clock on National Museums NI's website.