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Glowing way to bring in New Year

Eddie McIlwaine

Way back in 1934 Barkley's, the coal people in Belfast, were selling the black stuff at 30 old shillings a ton.

Imagine!

And just the other day I paid out £30 for two bags of what Barkley's used to call in those good old days "screen house nuggets".

But Barkley's, whose headquarters were in Wellington Place – the warmer fireside centre – are long gone, says William McGill.

He still orders a quarter ton every New Year – never mind the price – to burn on his open fire in the parlour on January 1 and on other special occasions.

He has a toasting fork on which he toasts plain Ormo loaf slices for his friends and neighbours every New Year's Day and serves the crisp toast, laced with real butter, with glasses of wine or stout.

William tells me too that in 1934 he was a fan of aerated water.

It came straight from the Briggs Cromac Springs and on offer from the Briggs shop in Pine Street Belfast.

He also welcomed the New Year in the old days, he says, with a toast of Churchill's all gold wine – "South Australia's bottled sunshine."

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