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 News-Letter, Thursday 25th June 1925

An innovation which met with much approval by the citizens of Belfast was the open-air concert given by the Orpheus Male Choir in the Botanic Gardens Park last evening. The Parks and Playground Committee of the Corporation are desirous of making the public parks an attractive rendezvous for even greater numbers of people than are at present in the habit of using them, and by encouraging these evening concerts they are working along the right lines. In England musical entertainments in the parks of the great cities have proved exceedingly popular and the success which attended last night’s performance which was the first of the kind in Belfast, show that a regular series of these concerts would be much appreciated here. The committee hope that the various choirs and other musical organisations in the city will come forward and help them in carrying through a scheme which will give much pleasure to the community.

There was an enormous crowd around the newly-erected band-stand in the charming gardens, which are now looking their best in all the glory of their summer garb, and although a large number of chairs were provided inside the enclosure, it was only those who arrived early who were fortunate enough in securing seats. The programme, however, was of such an interesting nature that no one minded standing, and the applause which followed every item indicated that the large audience were enjoying themselves thoroughly.

Councillor Albert Hodgen, J.P., chairman of the Parks and Play Grounds Committee, who presided, said the members of that committee were doing their best to make the public parks attractive and beneficial to the citizen, not only from the point of view of those who took advantage of the ground for the purposes of football, cricket, tennis, bowls, or hockey, but from an educational and artistic point of view, by providing music, which had, until now, been limited to bands. They were, however, anxious that the music should be varied by the introduction of vocal programmes, and wished it to be publicly known that they were prepared to afford every facility to choirs who were willing to give their services in order to help to add to the happiness of others. That evening he had the honour to introduce the Orpheus Male Choir, who, through their esteemed, capable, and energetic conductor, Mr. Cromie, were the first volunteers. The choir needed no commendation from him. It had long since established its reputation, and he was sure that the experiment launched that evening would prove so successful that the public would cry out for repetitions. (Applause.)

The part songs by the choir were admirably rendered under Mr. Cromie’s direction, and the voices carried well on the still air of a glorious summer evening. Messrs. E. Rosbotham, E. McCrisken, and W. Stewart were the soloists, and violin solos were contributed by Mr. R. Ferguson. The accompaniments were efficiently played by Mr. H. Porter.

To view a selection of historic images of Botanic Gardens on National Museums NI's website click here.

Northern Whig, Thursday 27th October 1921

Last evening a daring raid was made on a house in the York Street district by three armed and masked men, who were out for plunder, but who owing to the plucky conduct of a woman were defeated in their object, and obliged to flee.

The scene of the exciting affair was the residence of a bookmaker named John Rooney in Ship Street.

Mr. Rooney was sitting counting money in one of the downstair rooms when three armed men, and one of them wearing a mask, entered from the street. When Mr. Rooney raised his head he found himself in the uncomfortable position of looking down the barrel of a Webley revolver, and he was smartly ordered to hand over the money.

The noise attracted the attention of Mr. Rooney’s mother, who was close at hand, and running into the room she pluckily made for the fellow with the mask and tore it off his face.

She disturbed the raiders to such effect that they immediately gave up the game, and afraid that her shouts would lead to their capture they dashed out to the street again and disappeared.

On their departure one of them fired a shot from his revolver, but fortunately the bullet found its billet only in the back of a chair. The incident was reported to the police immediately afterwards, but the raiders had made good their escape, which was about all they did make out of their adventure. No arrests were made.

To read more about Sailortown, the area in which Ship Street was located, click here.

  • Belfast Between The Wars

Northern Whig, Friday 28th August 1931

A blind Belfast ex-soldier has invented a novel form of motor jack which, he claims, will do much to add to the convenience and efficiency of motoring.

The inventor is Mr. Edward Gilmore, of Matilda Street, Belfast, and he has just perfected an idea on which he has been working for over 12 months. Although he has never seen the child of his endeavour, Mr. Gilmore was able to give a description of it to a “Northern Whig” reporter yesterday.

“The jack,” he said, “is attached to the axle of a car permanently, so that users of it will never have the bugbear of groping under the back seat or delving into a tool box if they have a puncture on a dark night. When not in use it folds back against the axle. The advantages of it seem to be enormous, and chief among its good points is that it can be placed in the centre of the axle, so that when the car is raised clear of the road the vehicle balances properly, and there is no strain on one particular point. It can very readily be put into operation.”

Mr. Gilmore is a mechanic by trade.