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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, Thursday 18th June 1936

The continued progress of the Belfast municipal transport system is illustrated by the report of the general manager, submitted to the Tramways Committee of the Corporation on Wednesday. The traffic revenue from the tramcars during the year came to over £594,000, being an increase of £20,000 compared with the previous year. The revenue from the omnibuses exceeded £103,000, an increase of £14,000 over last year. The number of passengers carried on the tramcars was nearly 116,500,000, an increase of 4,513,117 over the year, constituting a record. There were almost 13,000,000 passengers carried on the buses, an increase for the year of more than 1,500,000. The omnibus service has proved its utility as an auxiliary to the tramcars and has also supplied an urgent want on routes, like the Cavehill Road, where a great extension of housing schemes is in process. It may be safely predicted that on this and other suburban districts bus services will be extended considerably before long to meet the needs of the growing population and link up the suburbs on the outskirts of the city boundary. Omnibus services are also being made use of to enable tramway tracks which have become worn out to be abandoned on sections of the Mountpottinger Road and Cregagh Road. It is wise policy to proceed with due deliberation in the replacing of vehicles now in use by others as required. New types of construction are being adopted from time to time in other cities, and it is only by actual trial that the qualities of these vehicles can be ascertained. It would no doubt be folly to go to the expense of relaying many miles of tramway track if other kinds of cars or buses can be substituted advantageously for those in use.

In some of the districts of Belfast which have been more recently opened up for building, like the Castlereagh Road, the possibilities of expansion of the city are very great. This implies the need to largely increased facilities for the transport of those who live in these areas. Sometimes a combination of events leads to a quickening of the process of urban growth. Thus, for example, on the Antrim Road the building on the Shaftesbury estate, the attractions of the Bellevue Zoological Gardens and of Hazelwood, and the growth of population in the Glengormley district have all tended to increase the demand on the services which the tramcars and omnibuses supply. When the Belfast corporation was seeking to obtain powers for linking up the old Cavehill and Whitewell tramway route with the line which then ended at the Chichester Park terminus on the Antrim Road, some prominent citizens had doubts of the advisability of the proposed step, but the huge volume of passenger traffic now carried on this route has showed the wisdom of the decision. The possibilities of extension presented in other districts are also most striking. Since the city tramcar service was taken over by the Corporation in 1904 a steady advance has been made all round. Under the able management of Major McCreary the rate of progress has been increased and this department of municipal activities is one of several which Belfast need not fear comparison with other cities across the Channel. The extension of lower fares for workmen from 8.30am to 8.45am has been largely availed of, as also the special privileges accorded to children. The transport facilities provided in Belfast today are such as were scarcely imagined by the older generation of citizens, but we have grown to accept them as part and parcel of our daily lives. Nevertheless a tribute of praise is due both to those who were responsible in the past for founding the system and those who have guided its successful operation in recent days.

  • Writer's pictureBelfast Between The Wars

Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday 26th May 1936


Each successive suburban cinema which opens in Belfast sets a new standard in this tranche of the building industry, and incorporates all the improvements which the public demand of their modern place of entertainment.

The Majestic, at the corner of Derryvolgie Avenue, on the Lisburn Road, which was opened last evening by the Lord Mayor, is no exception, and more than fulfils all the expectations of the modern cinema-goer.

The Majestic is the second suburban cinema built in Belfast by the Union Cinema Company, who have at present under construction the “Ritz,” the new super-house at Fisherwick Place.

The front of the house well lives up to its name – in cream-coloured glazed faience. It is high and flat-roofed, and the centre of the frontage is recessed, leaving two “towers” at either side, containing the balcony stairs. The main entrance, with double-decker canopy above it, has two sets of swing doors opening into a roomy foyer. Above the entrance foyer is the balcony foyer with a large window, 24 feet long, commanding a fine view of the city.

Everywhere is evidenced the modern trend in cinema luxury – concealed lighting, roomy seating, adequate heating and the hundred and one other smaller improvements which we now expect.


There is seating accommodation for 1,400 – 1,000 in the stalls and 400 in the balcony. The seats are upholstered in scarlet and are of the silent tip-up type, wide and deep with special armrests. There is perfect vision from every seat in the house.

The walls and ceiling of the auditorium are finished with sprayed plastic paint, speckled in rose-pink and gold. This has also been used on the walls of the entrance and balcony foyers and staircases.

As an aid of acoustics the ceiling is quite flat though this is not at first sight apparent.

The heating is by a system of air conditioning, supplemented by radiators inset in the walls.

In every detail the cinema is a great tribute to the architect, Mr. J. McB. Neill, who was responsible for the company’s other suburban house – the Strand.

Mr. J. S. Elliot, who at one time acted as assistant manager at the Classic is the manager at the Majestic.

The floral decorations were carried out by Mr. Wm. Magee, Knock Nursery, Upper Newtownards Road.

The Lord Mayor, who was welcomed by Councillor W. A. Cochrane and presented with a gold souvenir key by Mr. Neill, the architect, congratulated Mr. Neill and the builders on their fine cinema. They had, in the Majestic, a cinema that would do justice to anywhere.

Before the opening, musical selections were rendered by the band of the 1st Batt. the Welch Regiment, conducted by Bandmaster F. J. Davidson (by kind permission of Col. D. P. Dickenson, D.S.O., O.B.E.).

The proceeds of the entertainment were handed over to charity.

The films shown were “Curly Top,” with Shirley Temple, “Welcome Home” with James Dunn and a Mickey Mouse cartoon.

The heating and ventilating system was installed by Messrs. Johnson & Co., Ravenhill Road, Belfast.

Messrs. Johnson have great experience in work of this kind, and their installation at the Majestic represented all that they had learned in this type of work.

  • Writer's pictureBelfast Between The Wars

Northern Whig, Friday 14th October 1932




There was scarcely a vacant seat in the famous Abbey Theatre, Dublin, last evening, when “Workers,” the first full-length play by Thomas Carnduff, an unemployed Belfast shipyard worker, was presented for the first time on any stage by the Belfast Repertory Players.

It was given a most enthusiastic welcome, and at the fall of the final curtain there were repeated calls for author, to which Mr. Carnduff responded.


He told the audience that he had watched his play from the stalls, and it was the first time he had sat in the stalls of a theatre. It had been a very special moment in his life, and he was delighted at seeing his work staged with the traditions of the Abbey.

The play is in three acts, and whilst it shows obvious weakness in stage construction it is marked by natural, at times brilliant and often very witty, dialogue, and it displays admirable character delineation.

What Carnduff has done is to take a number of shipyard workers, some of them hard-drinking, hard-swearing, hard-up, and belligerent, and set them out before us. What lingers in our memory of them is their heroism, their kindness to one another, their understanding, their humanity. It was this that appealed to the playgoers.

Susan, the heroine of the play, has been badly treated by her husband, John Waddell. After repeated requests from her former lover, Bouman, she decided to go away. Then John is brought home an invalid, and she feels that her place is with him. That is the altruism of the woman, and there are heaps of examples of the altruism of the men, who work when there is work to be had, and are always anxious to help those who cannot find work.

There is philosophy to the play, there is irony, there is occasional bitterness about existing conditions, but the fundamental characteristics of it are its humanity and the author’s deep regard for the working men. He was given an extremely warm welcome when he thanked the audience and the cast.

The men in the play, Richard Hayward (Waddell), Rodney Malcolmson, C. E. Owens (bartender), J. R. Mageean, William Crean, Charles Fagan, and Dan Fitzpatrick, were extremely good, but the two women need to speak up, as much of their conversation was often lost.

The play will be repeated this and tomorrow evening, and a matinee tomorrow.

To find out more about Thomas Carnduff click here.

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