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, 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.

Larne Times, Saturday 29th May 1937


Miss Monica S. Allan, the Ulster-Scottish heiress, who dislikes cocktail parties and London social life, was married last week in a little Argyllshire church to Mr. Robert Sutherland, of Caithness, once her father’s ghillie.

They will live in an idyllic open-air life on the Hebridean island of Shuna, off the West Coast of Scotland, which Miss Allan recently acquired.

They chose the island as the perfect retreat and intend to make it into a bird sanctuary.

The couple met six years ago at Caithness, where Miss Allen’s father, the late Mr. Charles Allen, a Belfast engineering magnate, owned an estate.

Her mother, Mrs. Charles C. W. Tennant, of Stratton House, Piccadilly, and Mr. Tennant, were the two witnesses to the marriage, which took place in St. Conan’s Church, Loch Awe.

Rev. Adam E. Anderson, who performed the ceremony, said that he was asked to do so by Miss Allan some time ago.

It was a very simple service. Miss Allan, who was dressed in a dark brown costume with a fox fur, appeared radiantly happy as she posed for photographs taken by her mother and stepfather.

Miss Allan, who is twenty-two years of age, describes Shuna as her Treasure Island. She said recently that when her fiancé saw it two months ago, he was charmed with it.

“Both of us are passionately fond of a quiet country life,” she added. “I cannot imagine anything more ideal than living on Shuna married to the man I love.”

“Our life will be in no way primitive. There is the castle, which I am putting in order, and which has 35 rooms, and my fiancé and I will have a farm.

“We shall make our own electricity and I am laying a telephone line to the island.

“I loathe Society, and I visit London only when I cannot help it. Our mutual interests extend even to playing the bagpipes.”

She said that she met her husband when she was sixteen and their friendship developed.

Mr. Sutherland, who is 39, said, “It is a perfect island for a home. I shall do most of the work on the home farm, and we shall spend much time together studying wild bird life. Neither of us think it a sport to shoot birds.”

Miss Allen is a daughter of the late Mr. C. E. Allan, for many years a director of Messrs. Workman, Clark & Co.

To read more about Charles Edward Allan click here.

To read more about Shuna Island click here.

Ireland's Saturday Night, Saturday 11th April 1936

Belfast’s bygone Easter Mondays! What a glamour there was around those good old days when “talkies,” electric trams, broadcasting and aerodromes were unheard of.

Then it was that the youth and beauty of Belfast, and the old folk too, set out in their hundreds every Easter morn on their annual pilgrimage to the Cave Hill, there to trundle their eggs, dyed yellow with whin blossom or purple with log wood, ‘neath the shadow of Napoleon’s Brow. All over the green slopes there were picnic parties, lovers, old fogies and scores of laughing children thoroughly enjoying themselves. Some were playing ring o’ rosies, some tig, others hide and seek, while the older folk sat around beside their baskets of eggs, ginger pop and good, hefty Ulster sandwiches reliving, no doubt, in the antics of the children their own Easter Mondays of the past on that self same hill in the days before their hair had turned to silver.

There were others who sought seclusion; these were the lovers, to be sure. Snug among the whin bushes they sat, arms encircling waists, looking down at the smoke stacks of the town and the ships in the making at “The Island” far below. Some, perhaps, were trying to pick out their own streets and districts, using church spires and factory chimneys as their guide marks. Many a troth was pledged, many a match made on the hill on those good old Easters of bygone years. When night dropped her purple mantle over the town and the twinkling lights of the street lamps edged the roads with jewels, the revellers, tired but happy, made their way to the town by way of Sheep’s Pad, or that now vanished stairway of ancient railway sleepers, to the Antrim Road.

The Cave Hill pilgrimage did not exhaust by any means the Easter attractions for the industrious folk of Belfast. Hundreds visited every Easter the Old Museum in College Square North, there to see “the mummy” lying in all her serene glory of thousands of years. In the evening there were “Christy’s Minstrels” in the Ulster Hall, lime light views in Victoria Hall and “Dick Turpin’s ride to York” in the circus in Chichester Street. The greatest Easter attraction of all was the annual balloon ascent from the Botanic Gardens. Every Easter for many years the people of the town gathered in thousands with their friends from the country to witness this great event. Everyone was asking during Easter week, “Have you seen the balloon go up,” and who in Belfast in those days hadn’t.

The last ascent was made on Easter Monday, March 26, 1894, at 4.30 p.m., and the intrepid balloonist was the famed Captain Orton, who made the ascent in the Volunteer before 10,000 people.

On the same day Tommy Burns was to dive from 70 feet into a wooden tank. Unfortunately the wooden tank sprang several leaks, and although workmen attempted to plug the holes all the previous night in the morning the tank was still leaking. Not to be outdone, Tommy mounted the ladder to the platform and waited until the water was pumped in. Alas, the water would not rise more than a few feet, and Tommy announced that he would make the dive from 20 feet instead of 70 owing to the shallowness of the water. He did so amid the plaudits of the vast crowd. It was then found that he could not climb the slippery walls of the tank, and so he was forced to swim round and round like a goldfish to keep warm until a ladder was brought from the park-keeper’s lodge. However, the crowd had the good fortune to see Capt. Orton soar high into the heavens from the green amid the flowerbeds and drift away over the town towards Divis.

That was the last display of its kind in the garden. Next Easter the Royal Belfast Botanical and Horticultural Co., Ltd., had sold their interests to the Belfast Corporation for £10,000, but it was not until 1895 that they were actually taken over.

To view a selection of images of Cave Hill from National Museums NI's collections click here.

To view a selection of images of Botanic Gardens from National Museums NI's collections click here.

To view a poster advertising Easter attractions at the Belfast Museum in 1891 from National Museums NI's collections click here.

To read more about Botanic Gardens via Belfast Entries click here.