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, Tuesday 1st January 1935



Long before eleven o’clock last night crowds of Belfast people started to gather on the streets and at the corners by the Albert Memorial to watch for the actual moment of the passing of the old year and the coming of the new, and for fully three-quarters of an hour before midnight the surrounding streets were almost impassable in traffic. People were coming up singly, in pairs, and in groups of a dozen or so, and periodically accordion bands marched up followed by large processions.

Most of the people were chatting animatedly about the occasion, and from the few scraps of gossip which it was possible to hear above the general buzz of conversation and the playing of musical instruments, the majority of them seemed to be very well satisfied with the old year. The slight but definite signs of trade revival, and the improvement of financial conditions, have apparently filled the hearts of the people with new hope and expectation.

As more and more people arrived the buzz of talk gradually grew almost into a roar, which still increased right up to a few minutes before the hour of midnight, though there were a few solitary, and rather pathetic, figures who stood alone with their eyes fixed on the dial of the clock. As the hour grew nearer a sensible feeling of anticipation seemed to animate the scene. Expressions grew more intent, and voices more subdued.


The first stroke of midnight cast a solemn and impressive silence on the crowd with startling suddenness, and for the space of about ten seconds not a sound could be heard save the hooting of occasional motorcars in more distant parts of the city.

Then, as though the spell which had bound them had been suddenly broken, spontaneous cheering burst from the whole crowd, and friends shook hands and couples embraced each other with good wishes and felicitations.

Small groups linked hands and danced round in light-hearted gaiety, while others started singing “Auld Lang Syne.” The general hilarity in welcome of the New Year continued without abatement for a quarter of an hour, after which, as though mindful of their good resolutions to go to bed early and such-like undertakings, the crowd began to melt away – at first by couples and in small numbers, and gradually in an increasing stream, until, before the New Year was half-an-hour old, the locality had resumed its normal night-time placidity, which was ruffled only by the passing of an occasional tram and by a few enthusiastic singers who remained on the scene.

The normal rhythm of life had been resumed. Carnival dances were held all over the city and were attended by gay crowds who welcomed the New Year with great enthusiasm, whilst in Belfast Cathedral and many of the city churches impressive watch-night services were held. There were large congregations who observed the passing of the old year and the dawn of the new in prayer and praise.

To find out more about the history of the Albert Clock and how it was saved from toppling over click here.

You can view images of the Albert Clock on National Museums NI's website.

  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast News-Letter, Friday 24th December 1937

In this season of goodwill it is pleasing to know that the animals are not forgotten. The annual treat was given yesterday by the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to the animals attending the Poor Persons’ Dispensary, Hamilton Street, Belfast, and nearly forty animals, all suffering from some ailment, attended. All displayed fine appetites, the horses and donkeys enjoying oats, the dogs hard biscuits, and the cats tender fish and meat.

The owners of the animals stood around, happy to see their pets partaking of the good food provided. Other owners whose animals were not well enough to come to the party were given parcels of tit-bits to take home.

The hosts who waited on the “guests” were Mr. A. Thompson. M.R.C.V.S.; Mrs. Higginson, Miss M. E. McLean, and Miss E. S. McBride. The arrangements were carried out by the hon. secretaries of the U.S.P.C.A., Mrs. F. M. Holmes and Mrs. R. E. McLean.

Find out more about the history of the USPCA here.

There are some beautiful late Georgian terraced houses on Hamilton Street. Discover more about their restoration here.

Find out more about the history of the houses here by searching for ‘Hamilton Street’.

  • Belfast Between The Wars

Belfast Telegraph, Friday 22nd February 1929

In the Belfast Custody Court to-day, Joseph Collins, who gave his address as Druse Street, was charged with the larceny, by means of a trick, of a dinner suit, dress shirt, bow tie, and a pair of shoes, the property of James Elliott, Ann Street.

It was stated that the accused, after hiring the articles for a dance, attempted to pawn them.

Constable Stoddart said the accused belonged to Armagh, where he was wanted by the police on another charge.

Prisoner was given a chance, his sister entering into bail for his good behaviour.

To read more about Elliotts click here.