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 Telegraph, Tuesday 4th February 1936


There was great rejoicing in a well-known Belfast manufacturers establishment in Donegall Street this morning when one of the young men was able to take back with him a budgerigar which had escaped from his home on Sunday and they all thought had been lost.


The bird, which is a perfect pet, remains in the office all through the week and flies on the shoulders of the customers that come in, and spends the rest of its time actually perched on the pens of the clerks.


To prevent it being lonely the owner takes it to Holywood on a Sunday, and on Sunday last while he went out into the garden the bird followed him.


Feeling strange in the open air, it evidently for the moment went back to its natural state of freedom and flew up into the air. The owner did his best to try and follow its flight, but it disappeared.


He reported its loss to the police and throughout the rest of the day made every search, but was unsuccessful in recovering his pet.


At midnight on Sunday the police received a message from a gentleman at the top of the Downshire Road, Holywood, which is a considerable distance away from where the bird took flight, that this bird had been in his garden and had actually flown on to his shoulder and followed him into the house.


The owner was apprised, and with great joy he went to the house and as soon as he called it by its name it flew on to his finger.


Thanking the gentleman for caring for his pet in the meantime, he returned overjoyed at its recovery.


  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast News-Letter, Wednesday 25th March 1936


The annual meeting of the Belfast branch of the Missions to Seamen was held, yesterday, in the recreation hall of the Institute, Donegall Quay, Belfast, Lord Justice Best presiding.


The financial statement presented by Mr. E. R. Stephens, hon. secretary, showed a total income from all sources of £1,4333, an increase of £152 over the year 1834. This increase was largely due to an anonymous donation of £150 from a well-wisher in the Irish Free State, and £80 raised by Mrs. Clarke, Upperlands, from the sale of a cookery book.


Rev. O. A. J. Nibbs ( London), assistant superintendent of the society, said that seafaring men in all parts of the globe looked to the various missions as being a “home,” and the home associations meant more than could be adequately expressed. From the Royal Family down everyone did what they could for British seamen. The mission was out to help the sailor, no matter what might be his creed or nationality. They prevented many young sailors in port from “going the pace” and perhaps from being ruined. The institutes provided a harbour of refuge. Mr. Nibbs said he had been commissioned by the committee of the society to bring sincere and hearty greetings to the Belfast branch, and very real congratulations on the success of the work being carried out.


Rev. J. W. Doherty, chaplain to the mission, in a short address, spoke of the work of the mission and of the work being done by the staff as distinct from mission work. The job called for all sorts and conditions of men, he said, and one never knew what situations would arrive next.


Lord Justice Best said he was pleased to hear that those in authority at headquarters considered that the work in Belfast was very satisfactory. He commented on the various contributions, saying that the mission still had many loyal and enthusiastic friends. The missions to seamen was doing a splendid work throughout the world, and the sailors themselves were potential missionaries. Christianity was judged not so much by what people said as by what they did. If the sailors did not believe in Christianity, how were people who had never heard of Christianity to place any faith in it? Lord Justice Best concluded with a comprehensive expression of thanks to all who had helped the mission in any way.


The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to the chairman and speakers, proposed by Rev. M. H. G. Willis, M.A., M.B.E.


The Archdeacon of Down (Ven. C. C. Manning, M.A., M.C., proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs. James Campbell for kindly entertaining those present to tea.


The Benediction was pronounced by the Dean of Belfast.


To read more about The Mission to Seafarers to Belfast click here.


To view a selection of images of Belfast Harbour click here.


  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast News-Letter, Monday 27 October 1930


Hallowe’en night, now so near, can be made the occasion for jolly parties for young people, and it would be a great pity if the old customs of this season were allowed to die out.


If you decide to have a children’s afternoon party, all sorts of attractive and amusing novelties can be bought quite cheaply, such as “false faces”, noses, hats, blow-outs, fireworks, &c. The last named are really not suitable for very young children, but are most popular with the bigger ones, not to mention all the grown-up children!


A Hallowe’en cake must be provided for such a tea party. Plain sultana is best, and a ring, button, thimble, threepenny piece, &c., must be well wrapped in greaseproof paper and baked in it.


If the party is to take the form of a dinner for “older young people” and “young older people,” these traditional Hallowe’en trinkets can be put in the pudding.


A suitable table dressing for a Hallowe’en dinner party would be an ecru-coloured damask cloth, with autumn-tinted decorations. For this, buckle berries and the red and gold leaves of Virginia creeper would make a charming combination, with amber glass.


Must amusement is generally caused if a small carnival novelty – hot, blow-out, mouth organ – is put at each person’s place.


With regard to entertaining the party there are heaps of Hallowe’en games to choose from, in addition to the traditional nut-burning. I would start with “Dirty water, clean water, and no water at all.” For this you have three bowls, one filled with clean water, one with water in which some tea leaves are placed, and one empty. The players are blindfolded and led up to the bowls one by one. The type of husband or wife they will get is shown by the bowl into which they put their hand, viz: Clean water – Nice. Dirty water – Nasty. Empty – none.


After that you can duck for apples in a tub, attired in bathing caps, or try to bite a piece out of an apple tied to a long string and hanging from the ceiling.


Another amusing game is to make two lists of names – one girls’ names and the other boys’ names. The girls are led up blindfolded to the list of boys’ names, and vice versa. They are told to make a cross, and whichever name the cross comes nearest to is the name of the future husband or wife.


The actual nut-burning is a most amusing ceremonial if properly conducted. The nuts must have been previously well dried in the oven, and the top of the kitchen range is the best place for burning them. Everyone chooses two nuts, a large one for the man and a small one for the lady. They are then set alight, and much can be learned of the inner life and character of the pair by close observation!


Here are some “nut readings” culled from an old book on ancient rites and customs:-


“If ye nuttes burn together brightlye ‘tis sure token of a united and happy life. Should ye nuttes splutter and jump the one from the other, ‘tis sign of mutual dislike and untoward bickerings."


“Should ye large nut burn brightlye the while ye small nut die out, ‘tis proof of a fickle and inconstant mistress, and, in like case, should ye large nut die out first, ye ladye will have cause to beware ye bright eyes of forward damsels.”


Truly it would be a pity to miss putting our fortunes to such a far-reaching and important test!


M. H.


To read more about the folklore of Halloween click here.