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. 

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Belfast News-Letter, Friday 24th February 1922

The annual meeting of the Belfast Women’s Citizens’ Union was held yesterday afternoon in the Women’s Union Rooms, Assembly Buildings, Belfast. Professor R. A. Williams presiding over a very large attendance.

The annual report, which was submitted by the hon. secretary (Miss Montgomery), stated that the union had watched legislation in the Imperial Parliament dealing with women and children, and prepared a programme of social reforms required in Northern Ireland. It was hoped when these reforms came before Parliament they would passed as agreed legislation. Reference was made to the appointment of women magistrates, and it was reported that Miss Kyle (a member of the union) had been called to the Bar. On the motion of Mrs. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Corkey, the report was adopted.

The financial report was also adopted, and the hon. secretary reported the election of officials as follows: - President, Mrs. Fennell; chairman, Mrs. Walker; hon. treasurer, Miss Alexander; hon. secretary, Miss Malone. The programme of the society having been outlined by Mrs. Wilson, Miss Purvis delivered an interesting lecture on “The New Outlook of Education.” Votes of thanks to the speakers concluded the proceedings, after which tea was served to the members.

To read more about the career of Frances Kyle click here.

  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast News-Letter, Saturday 15th June 1935



It was officially announced yesterday that the North Yard of Messrs. Workman Clark (1928) Ltd., Belfast, is to be closed to shipbuilding, and that the South Yard has been taken over by Messrs. Harland & Wolff, Ltd.

The following statement was issued by Harland & Wolff:-

“Negotiations have now been concluded between Messrs. Harland & Wolff, Ltd., and Messrs. Workman Clark (1928), Ltd., in conjunction with National Shipbuilders Security, Ltd., where by shipbuilding on the North side of the river at Belfast will be discontinued.

“The ship building and engineering activities of Workman Clark on the South side of the river, however, which are adjoining the works of Harland & Wolff, will become part of that establishment, so that the future shipbuilding and marine engineering activities of the port will be concentrated at Queen’s Island.

“Following these arrangements Mr. William Strachan, jun., has appointed a director of Harland & Wolff, Ltd.

“It is further announced that Mr. F. G. Dunlop has been appointed a director of Harland & Wolff, Ltd., and will be in charge of the Company’s repair works at London, Liverpool and Southampton, the position previously occupied by Mr. James Gray, who is returning to the services of the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co., Ltd.”

“Very few men will lose employment through the deal,” the secretary of Workman Clark told a reporter yesterday. “Harland & Wolff have already taken over many of the workmen and the remainder will be absorbed into the big firm. The staff has gradually been reduced during the last few months.”

During a career of over half a century Workman Clark have launched 536 vessels, including many well known liners for British and foreign companies.


The North Yard site, which was let to Messrs. Workman Clark, is at present the subject of negotiations for the establishment of an aircraft factory by a proposed private company. In that direction discussions have taken place between the Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Mr. William Strachan, managing director of Messrs. Workman Clark, and it is expected that a decision will soon be reached.

Messrs. Harland & Wolff have a great deal of work in hand in Belfast. Four liners, making a total tonnage of about 80,000, are under construction for the Union Castle Mail Steamship Company, and in addition there are two Blue Star liners, H.M.S. Penelope, a cruiser for the Admiralty, and a considerable number of repair contracts. The firm will probably secure the business connection with their late rivals had in various parts of the world. Already they have obtained an order from a passenger and fruit-carrying company for a passenger-cargo vessel, which in other circumstances would probably have been given to Messrs. Workman Clark.

Mr. Frederick G. Dunlop, who has been appointed a director of Harland & Wolff, entered the drawing office of the firm some thirty-nine years ago and was promoted to assistant manager under the late Mr. Thomas Andrews. Subsequently he became finishing manager and then shipyard manager. In 1918 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, and two years later an Officer of the same Order.

Son of the late Mr. Samuel Dunlop, who was an employee of the firm for fifty years and latterly cashier, he is a brother of Mr. Samuel Dunlop, secretary of the Belfast Chamber of Trade, of Mr. Thomas Dunlop, an inspector in the Consular service, and of Mr. W. Dunlop, of Belfast. Another brother, Mr. H. Dunlop, who died three years ago, was chief engineer of Shackleton’s last Polar expedition. His nephew, Mr. S. H. Dunlop, is an assistant manager in the firm’s engineer works at Belfast.


Mr. William Strachan, jun., is the only son of Mr. William Strachan, chairman and managing director of Workman Clark 1928 Ltd., of which firm he was a director.

Mr. James Gray began his business career as an apprentice with the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, and, after filling a junior post with the Union Castle Mail Steamship Company in London, succeeded to the position of assistant superintending engineer. Some years later he joined the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as chief superintendent of the ocean services, and in 1915 he returned to the Union Castle Company as chief superintendent engineer. He was appointed general manager of the repair works of Messrs. Harland & Wolff, Limited, in 1925, and was promoted to the Board in 1929. Mr. Gray is a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Naval Architects. He re-joins the Union Castle Line as superintendent engineer on 1st July.

To read more about Workman Clark click here.

To view a selection of images pertaining to Workman Clark on National Museums NI's website click here.

Belfast News-Letter, Saturday 18th March 1939


St. Patrick’s Day in Belfast was marked by the traditional wearing of shamrock – by more people than usual it seemed, whose spirits, probably, were raised by one of the most brilliant and sunny days so far this year.

One flower-seller at the City Hall sold three gross of shamrock in the past couple of days at 1d and 2d a bunch. He and his friends gathered it from the fields in various districts of Belfast, including Balmoral, the Falls Road, Dundonald, and as far away as Comber. “If you want shamrock, sir,” he advised a “Belfast News-Letter” reporter, “you want to go to the turnip fields. It grows best in them.” He had only a few bunches of his last gross left in a basket. Men, he said, were his best customers.

Some hundreds of shamrock gatherers fare forth in various counties in Ulster in the week before St. Patrick’s Day, and sell the fruits of their work to the big florists, to the markets (where it was stated that 8s a gross was being paid for selling across the Channel), to street salesmen, or they sell it direct to the public themselves.


The city florists’ stocks of shamrock were rapidly depleted during the week, and one of them received orders from Irish regiments in various parts of the work. Some boxes were despatched by air mail. Shamrock went to Irish regiments in London, India, Yorkshire, and Palestine. Most of it was gathered in Co. Down and Co. Antrim. One firm sent orders to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, and the United States, among countries abroad.

The City Hall and all Government and public offices, and the banks were closed yesterday, and those who could took a holiday in the afternoon to attend one or other of the several sporting events arranged, which included the final of the Schools Rugby Cup at Ravenhill ground, which attracted the usual large crowd, the final of the Irish Schools Association Cup at Grosvenor Park, and the final of the Lyttle Cup.

Picnic parties and ramblers were early astir yesterday in the city, and the Cavehill was a favourite rendezvous with young ramblers. City parks were filled with people taking advantage of the sun, which shone clearly from early morning until evening, and reads out of the city carried heavy private car traffic, especially to Bangor and Donaghadee.

From Newry to Enniskillen, Border towns and villages were visited by citizens of Eire, whose licensing laws cause the public houses to close on St. Patrick’s Day. Visitors thus came to Ulster to maintain the traditional “drowning” of the Shamrock.


‘Buses, the railways and the tramcars in Belfast had a record St. Patrick’s Day, the weather invited everyone to make the day a holiday out of town.

Three “specials” ran from Dublin to Belfast on the Great Northern Railway, bringing 2,000 visitors, and altogether Belfast must have had some 5,000 visitors from Eire and various parts of Ulster yesterday. A Derry, Strabane and Omagh train to Dublin carried 400; two “specials” and a duplicated train to Dublin from Belfast carried 1,2000 (including many from the Newcastle area), and 1,200 travelled in Strabane and Cookstown special trains to the Ancient Order of Hibernians demonstration at Coalisland. One the L.M.S. line a special was run from Coleraine to accommodate travellers to the Schools’ Cup final.

A special rail car, leaving about 11 p.m., conveyed Dublin choirs home from Belfast after competing at the Musical Festival.

In Belfast and all over the Province Ulster folk said goodbye to St. Patrick’s Day with dances and other entertainments.

To view an image of people selling shamrock from National Museums NI's archives click here.

To view an image of children gathering shamrock from National Museums NI's archives click here.