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. 

Northern Whig, Wednesday 18th August 1926

“I am perfectly satisfied that we have succeeded in taking photographs of those who have passed out of the body or who are what is commonly called dead.”

This remarkable statement was made to a “Northern Whig” reporter yesterday by Mr. John McDermaid, president of the Ulster Christian Spiritualist Association.

The photographs on which the astonishing claim is based were taken recently by Mr. Hugh Robinson as part of his investigation of Spiritualism in the Association’s Hall, 63, Victoria Street, Belfast, and by the side of the grave of Mr. McDermaid’s mother in the City Cemetery.

Two of the prints were offered to the “Northern Whig” for publication, but were not suitable for reproduction. On the one of the graveside scene are three cloud-like effects, and on that showing the interior of the hall two similar effects.

Referring to the first print Mr. McDermaid said:- “I can clearly identify my mother, and besides her is my little baby sister. There is also a vision of my father, Mr. Frank McDermaid, who passed out of the body 22 years ago. I can recognise their features with certainty. The other form on the print is a ‘spirit cloud,’ which comes as a spirit is beginning to manifest. If the exposure had been made a few moments later, it is possible that the spirit form would have more completely developed and a more distinct impression would have been obtained. The three forms appear on the sky just above the heads of the people standing by the grave, and there must have been something there or nothing would have appeared on the photograph.”

Mr. Edwin Graham, secretary of the Association, referring to the second print, declared:- “ I am able to identify my brother, Thomas Graham, who passed out of the body 44 years ago. I recognise the hair, eyes, and beard, and I have no doubt that it is him.”

Mr. McDermaid added that the taking of the photographs was simply an experiment and he was much gratified that it had been successful. He regarded the results as furnishing additional proof of Spiritualism, and stated that he is prepared to allow any genuine investigator to see the photographs to make prints from the negatives.

Belfast Telegraph, Thursday 11th February 1937

Members attending a dinner in Thompson’s Restaurant, Belfast, had the unique experience of listening to a response to one of the principal toasts delivered by a person who was separated from the company by 6,000 miles of land and ocean.

The toast was proposed in the customary manner, and its acknowledgement came from a familiar voice, though the gentleman speaking was at the moment in Johannesburg.

The speaker was Mr. Alec Brown, a director of the Sircocco Works, and well known as an International bowler, who is at present on a business and sporting mission in South Africa.

The speech was reproduced through the medium of a gramophone record. The company enjoyed not only the sentiments of acknowledgement, but the novel manner in which the response was made.

To read an article about Sirocco Works on the Belfast News Letter website click here.

To listen to a podcast about Sirocco Works and its founder Samuel Davidson on the Best of Belfast website click here.

Click here to see photographs relating to Sirocco Works via National Museums NI's website.

Northern Whig, Tuesday 20th November 1928

A “Northern Whig” representative who had an opportunity of visiting the biscuit and cake factory of Messrs. Marsh & Co. (1928), Ltd., in the Springfield Road, Belfast, yesterday was greatly impressed by the enterprise which has characterised the firm since it took possession of the building in August. Previous to being taken over by Messrs. March & Co. (1928) the building had been used as a cotton mill, and a comprehensive scheme of reconstruction was necessary to suit it for its new purpose.

The very latest and most efficient plant was installed, and, with an expert staff, the production of cakes and biscuits commenced on October 1, since when remarkable progress has been made. It is the resolved intention of the firm to supply the very finest goods by using the highest quality ingredients obtainable. The flour used is the best that England and Country Down produce.


At the present time the various departments of the factory, from the process of the mixing of ingredients to the packing of the finished goods, present a hive of industry. A feature of the well-organised system which is in operation is the convenient arrangement of the machinery in the graduated processes which prevents unnecessary handling of the dough. The flour passes from the room in which it is stored into large mixers, and after undergoing process in these the dough is removed to rolling-pin machines, whence, after treatment, it is conveyed to cutting machines. On the latter machines the biscuits take shape, novel patterns being cut out and embossed, whence they drop on to trays. The biscuits are subsequently put into huge gas ovens. These ovens are fitted with gas-burners, and are the most up-to-date type.

In other departments girls are employed in preparing table delicacies such as iced and chocolate covered biscuits. The making of water-tight tin boxes is also an interesting process, the tin being shaped at several machines in such a manner as to obviate the use of solder.


The system of packing is very efficient. Biscuits and cakes of particular sorts are carefully weighed and packed in wrappers in half-pounds. Before packing the tins are weighed and the weight marked on the outside of the receptacle. After packing the tins are labelled according to the sorts of biscuits or cakes which they contain. The biscuits are made in many patterns, some tins which were packed yesterday containing fifteen different sorts placed in layers. After packing the goods are trucked a short distance to a lift to the delivery vehicles.

Evidence that the firm, which has taken over the business conducted for many years in Donegall Street, is pursuing its aim to supply the finest goods was to be had all over the factory.

Click here to see photographs of the factory taken in 1931 via National Museums NI's website.