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Welcome to Belfast Between The Wars, a blog showcasing 100 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. 

  • Writer's pictureBelfast Between The Wars

Belfast Telegraph, Monday 20th February 1928



Bassoons, tin whistles, banjos were amongst the variety of musical instruments that added to the gaiety of the gathering of Post Office officials who met in the Grand Central Hotel, Belfast, on Saturday evening to bid farewell to Mr. Joseph Yaw, who is retiring after forty-three years’ service in the Belfast G.P.O.

The farewell, which took the form of a smoking concert, was opened by the Belfast Postal Branch of the Ulster Post Office Clerks’ Association, and was presided over by Mr. T. B. MacDowell, Postmaster-Surveyor of Belfast. Amongst those present were Mr. A. Parker, Assistant Postmaster; Mr. R. McConnell, general secretary Northern Ireland Post Office Clerks’ Association; Mr. James McCann, assistant superintendent Surveyor’s Department; Mr. A. Quigley, assistant-superintendent Accountants’ Department; and Mr. R. R. Forbes, H.M. Customs.

Mr. Yaw entered the Post Office in 1885, and has had a very varied career. In reminiscent mood, he often recalled that when the Antrim family first built the village of Cushendun, a post office was established there, and Belfast sorting officials were instructed to despatch all letters for the new village direct to the new post office.

Mr. Yaw was entrusted with this task, and duly sent off the first mail to Cushendun. Great was his surprise, however, he states, when the mailbag was returned from the Midland Station with the comment that they had never heard of the place. On another occasion, when the mail despatch to Ballynahinch had missed the train connection during a snowstorm, Mr. Yaw got out his bicycle, and with the mailbag on the handlebars, proceeded through the storm, and duly delivered the letters at Ballynahinch not far behind time.

He also recalled some of the hours of attendance in the old days at the Belfast Post Office. He had four shifts in the one day – 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Five members of the staff who were trained under Mr. Yaw in Belfast entered the Church, and four are now serving in various parts of the country.

A very enjoyable programme was gone through, the following contributing: - Mr. S. McCord, violin solo; Mr. R. R. Forbes, song; Messrs. J. V. Blaney and George O’Brien, duet; Mr. W. Johnston, song; Mr. T. A. Nelson, tin whistle specialist; Mr. Joseph Walsh, song; Mr. R. R. Gilbert, Irish songs; and Mr. W. J. McElroy (song). The Orpitas Male Choir, under the leadership of Mr. R. Hill, also rendered several pleasing choruses.

Mr. T. B. MacDowell paid tribute to Mr. Yaw’s worth, and said it gave him great pleasure to give recognition of the excellent qualities of their old colleague. Some people think, he said, that Post Office people are governed by the 1,436,000 rules which are in use in the Post Office, but that was not so, as a wise man governed himself by the rules of common sense. He took the opportunity to hand Mr. Yaw a slight token of the esteem of the staff and of the supervisors. Eulogistic  speeches were made by Messrs. A. Quigley, W. G. Mowat, D. Dempsey, J. Grogan, G. Irwin, H. F. Mateer, and R. McConnell.

The arrangements for the social were in the capable hands of Messrs. W. G. Courtney, T. Gregg, and C. J. Parke.

  • Writer's pictureBelfast Between The Wars

Northern Whig, Friday 25th April 1924



A mass meeting of women students of Queen’s University was held yesterday to consider the statements made by Dr. Olive Anderson at a recent meeting of the Queen’s University Women Graduates’ Association, in which she pointed out that a woman warden or dean was required in the University (1) to advise the girls when they first came up and when the left the University; (2) to visit their lodgings and see that they were being properly looked after; (3) for disciplinary purposes; (4) to guide a great many girls who came to Queen’s in these days simply for a good time, and who, for want of guidance, seemed completely to lose their heads and thus brought discredit on the university.

The meeting strongly repudiated these statements, and passed the following resolutions:

“Girls coming up to Queen’s at first are usually advised by their old schoolmistress as to the course they should pursue, and they are required to consult the Dean of their Faculty before entering on any course of study. In addition, certain of the senior women students (who are recognised by badges) are nominated at the beginning of each session, and these do all in their power to help and advise all newcomers. Upon leaving the University advice as to a future career may always be obtained from the professors concerned, or the Secretary of the University.”

“Of the 350 women undergraduates at Queen’s half at least live at home. A great many are in the women’s hostel, Riddell Hall, and the rest are in lodgings, mostly good lodgings. Lists of approved lodging are compiled by the deans in residence, and can be seen at any time in the Secretary’s office.”

“A Women Students’ Hall Committee is elected annually by the students themselves, and is representative of each Faculty. This Committee is in direct touch with the students, being itself composed of students, and any injudicious or imprudent conduct on the part of women students within the precincts of the University is brought to its notice and dealt with by it – subject to the authority of the Discipline Committee of the Academic Council. In more serious cases, the offender is reported directly to the Discipline Committee. Experience shows that this is seldom, if ever, necessary.”

“The great majority of girls coming up to the University do so with the idea of fitting themselves to become independent. The number of men students is three times that of the women, yet in the honours list of 1923, 45 per cent of the honours degrees were taken by women. The examination results show that women acquit themselves well in all other examinations."

“Women undergraduates consider it unnecessary to enter into discussion as to the unruly conduct of women students outside the University, as in the strongly expressed opinion of the meeting no unruly or disgraceful conduct of the women students had ever brought discredit on the university.”

  • Writer's pictureBelfast Between The Wars

Belfast News-Letter, Thursday 5th May 1938


On the night of 18th November last, while troops embarked in the Ulster Queen, the Provost-Sergeant in charge standing on the breast of the quay turned, slipped and fell into the river between the Quay wall and the Belfast Steamship Company’s vessel. A lifebelt was thrown to the sergeant, but he did not seem able to help himself and John Reid, a young dock labourer, of 12 Elm Street, Belfast, at the risk of his own life, jumped in fully clothed and assisted in bringing him ashore. The night was bitterly cold.

At lunchtime yesterday, in the Liverpool shed, before an assemblage of his workmates, friends, officials of the company and Staff-Captain Waters, Headquarters Staff, Northern Ireland Command (representing the General Officer Commanding, Sir James Cooke-Collis), Reid was presented with a framed testimonial on parchment of the Royal Humane Society by the general manager of the company, Mr. Samuel Berkeley.

Mr. Berkeley explained that after Reid’s gallant rescue he had received a letter from Captain Waters, saying that the General Officer Commanding wished to thank their company for the gallant effort of their employee and enclosing a cheque for Reid as “tangible evidence of his appreciation.” The Belfast Steamship Company also made a payment to Reid for his action, particulars of which were submitted to the Royal Humane Society.

“John Reid is a young man of whom his colleagues have every right to be proud.” said Mr. Berkeley. “It will always be to his credit that he risked his life to save that of a fellow man. Reid and his action are typical of the men employed at vessels of this company on the quays at Belfast.” Others present at the ceremony were Mr. T. Shanks, assistant general manager; Mr. T. Neville, quay manager, and Mr. R. T. Chambers, passenger manager.

Reid, a cheerful young fellow of 24, with a modest smile, is a strong swimmer, and a former member of the Boys’ Brigade, with whom he trained. He has been concerned in another quay rescue of which less is known. At 8 p.m. one night before the Liverpool vessel was due to sail, a sailor in the ship fell from some scaffolding into the water between the quay and the vessel. Reid dived in and brought him ashore.

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