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. 

  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast Telegraph, Wednesday 4th April 1934


A novel sight can now be seen in the Museum, Stranmillis, Belfast. A number of English toads have been exhibited there in the vivarium, for some months. At this time of year, like frogs, toads deposit their spawn. Leaving the land, they take to water for a time till the spawning has ceased.


Unlike frogs, however, they do not leave their spawn to float in masses on the surface, but attach the smaller darker coloured spawn to stems and leaves of water weeds. These can now be well seen in the aquarium, and are proving a great attraction, especially to young folk.


The common toad does not live in Ireland, but a smaller, much rarer and more local species, called the Natterjack toad, is a native of a very small maritime area in S.W. Kerry along the head of Dingle Bay, near Castlemaine Harbour. It also occurs on a sandhill area near Southport, Lancashire, and some other places, very local, in England and S.W. Scotland. The common toad is known to naturalists as Bufo vulgaris, the Natterjack as B-calamita.


To view a photograph of Belfast Museum and Art Gallery from 1934 click here.


To read more about common toads click here.


To read more about Natterjack toads click here.


Northern Whig, Thursday 7th April 1932


HE MUST GET BUSY ON THE RODENTS


The cat at the head Belfast Post Office is to have his rations cut down. This is not part of the Government’s economy campaign, but a sequel to a number of successful raids by rodents on postal packets containing seeds.


A large Belfast seed-merchanting concern has recently been receiving a number of seed envelopes gnawed through by rodents and the contents pouring out.


A “Whig” representative was shown a number of these postal packets, and, fearing that the rodents might later develop a taste for news correspondence, he went to the Post Office to see what was going to be done about it.


TOO MANY TIT-BITS


The first official whom he interviewed thought he had the solution to the problem at once. “It’s that confounded cat,” he said. “The cat is so popular with everybody that he is always getting tit-bits, and I suppose he is so well fed that he forgets what he is here for. He’ll get less in the future.”


Mr. A. J. Adern, the postmaster, put it like this: - “Special attention has been directed to the matter, and the usual measures for the extermination of rodents have been applied.”


Mr. Adern also said that exhaustive inquiries had been made, and that there were no grounds for the statement that extensive damage had been done to postal packets. Records showed that isolated cases of damage had occasionally occurred to packed containing grain or seed.


To view a photo of the head Belfast Post Office on National Museums NI's website click here.


To read more about the building click here.



  • Belfast Between The Wars

Northern Whig, Wednesday 19th May 1937


Some Belfast women, wives or daughters of Rotarians, were privileged to drink tea in Japanese fashion at the Grand Central Hotel yesterday. Miss Uyeda, who with her father is on a tour of Europe, entertained the ladies. There were members of the Inner Wheel present, and they received the guest. Mrs. J. W. Lindsay acted as hostess, and Mr. F. R. Unwin, who is convenor of the International Service Committee of the Rotary Club, introduced Miss Uyeda.


It was explained that in Japan the serving and drinking of tea necessitated so many observances that it included nearly all the phases of etiquette observed in Japanese life. If any mistake were made even in the smallest detail of what amounts to a ritual it would constitute a grave breach of etiquette and would be enough to stamp as ignorant one who was formally supposed cultured. Only four or five guests were chosen for ceremonial tea-drinking, said Mr. Unwin. A host of rules prescribed for the bringing in of utensils, for sitting down and rising, and even for opening and closing the sliding doors, had to be followed meticulously. The hostess herself prepared the tea in front of her guests, it was stated. The bowl, even though it was quite clean and polished, had to be rinsed ceremoniously, and it was part of the etiquette that all guests should wash their hands immediately before coming in for tea. A special stove was used for heating the water for the tea-making, and it was pointed out that Miss Uyeda brought with her a special travelling stove for this purpose. With a long-handled spoon a little green powdered tea was taken from a wonderfully decorated canister, and hot water was poured over this from a special bamboo ladle. This mixture was then whipped as much as cream is, and then the chief guest was supposed to come forward to the table, lift the bowl and sip the tea. This bowl then was passed from one guest to the other until the last person drained it, after which the bowl was passed round again, admired, and conversation, strictly limited to praises of utensils, room decorations, &c., was pursued. After about two hours spent in admiration the guests left or were entertained to a dinner party.


All these details of procedure Miss Uyeda followed. Among her Belfast audience no woman could refrain from passing the compliments, which are fixed things Japan, but were spontaneous yesterday. Her bowl was of fine porcelain with a delicate design, and the heavily ornamented canister was an object of admiration. Although she often wears European dress, Miss Uyeda appeared in traditional Japanese costume yesterday.


Miss Uyeda showed some examples of Japanese embroidered cloths and some interesting photographs. She said that among the younger girls of Japan there was a movement in favour of short hair and European clothes.


You can view images of the hotel's beautiful exterior and interior on National Museums NI's website.


Find out more about the history of the hotel here.