Belfast Telegraph

Old pictures of Belfast from the Belfast Telegraph archives

Belmont St. Woodstock Road, Belfast. 3/2/1939
Belmont St. Woodstock Road, Belfast. 3/2/1939 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Shipyard workers watching the launch of the "Canberra". 11/3/1960 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Belfast City Hall. Donegall Square. Under construction in 1903. The Earl of Glasgow unveiling the statue of Sir Edward J Harland in the grounds of the new City Hall. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Wilson's Court, Belfast. A narrow alley between High Street and Ann Street. Sign for "Lavery's". Gas bracket lamp. 16/5/1941 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Old clothes market, Smithfield, Belfast. 5/1/1937 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
New' Petty Sessions Court, Victoria St. Belfast. 27/4/1943 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
Albert Bridge Road looking from Templemore Avenue citywards. 2/9/1943 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
Building a roundabout at the junction of Ravenhill Road, Albert Bridge Road and Madrid St. 10/9/1948 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
Anne St. and Arthur Square, Belfast. 11/10/1946 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Donegall Square South and West. Belfast 3/11/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
High Street, Belfast, looking towards the Albert Clock. 24/2/1939 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Lisburn Road, at Malone Avenue, Belfast. 3/5/1946 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Sandy Row, from Donegall Road looking towards Lisburn Road. Belfast. 10/5/1946 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Bloomfield Road, Belfast, looking towards the Beersbridge Road. 1/12/1947 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
High St. from Castle Place. Belfast 20/2/1939 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Spectators gather to view the Albert Bridge after the collapse of the central arches in 1886
Belfast City Hall. Donegall Square. Under construction in 1906. The statue of Queen Victoria already in place. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Donegall Square North and East. Belfast. 26/7/1948 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Looking along the Ormeau Road to the gasworks from Short & Harlands recreation club. 19/3/1948
Royal Avenue, Belfast, from Castle Place looking towards North Street (from first floor level.) 19/5/1936
Crowds in Donegall Place for Student's Day, from the top of the City Hall. Belfast. 3/5/1935
Antrim Road, Belfast. January 1934
A block of derelict houses in Divis Street, Belfast, ready for demolishing. 28/12/1934
Queens Square, Belfast. 27/10/1933
Victoria Hall, Victoria Street, Belfast. 20/6/1932
Workmen replace the old Donegall Road bridge spanning the Great Northern Railway main line. 17/3/1954
Belfast. Streets. City Centre. Donegall Square. Belfast City Hall. 1932
Belfast : High Street, looking down at the Albert Clock. 1932
Belfast : High Street, looking down at the Albert Clock. 13/1/1932
Royal Avenue, Belfast, from Castle Place looking towards North Street (from first floor level.) 16/3/1948
Donegall Square East, Showing a row of parked cars. Belfast 10/9/1928 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Shankill Road at Canmore St.looking citywards, Belfast. 17/11/1943 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Victoria Square, Belfast, from Victoria Street. Davis & Co. automobile engineers, Cantrell & Cochrane factory. 24/8/1939 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Victoria Square, Belfast, with Cantrell & Cochrane delivery lorry. 3/5/1946 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Corner of North Street and Waring Street, Belfast. The Belfast Bank head office (formerly The Northern Bank). 22/9/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Cattle pens at The Great Northern Railway Station, Belfast, from the Albert Bridge. 2/9/1943 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
The Mater Hospital, Crumlin Road, Belfast. 15/9/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, from the Grosvenor Road. 21/9/1925BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Chichester St. looking towards Donegall Square North. Belfast. 3/1/1941 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Chichester St. from Victoria St. junction. Belfast. 3/5/1946 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Donegall Square East, with air raid shelters, from the roof of the Robinson & Cleaver building, Belfast. Top of photo cut of by the censor. 22/9/1943 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Belfast city centre, looking towards the City Hall and the hills beyond. 25/4/1939 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Belfast City Hall, composite photographs showing approaches. 26/6/1948 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
City Hall, south side, Belfast 3/11/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE/NMNI
Statue of Queen Victoria in the grounds of the City Hall, Belfast. 5/1/1943 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
Belfast Castle. February 1937 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
St. Anne's Cathedral, with Miss Praeger working on the figure of Solomon on the Pillar of Wisdom. 18/6/1928 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
Outside St. Anne's Cathedral Mr. W.D. Hoskins, ARICS. and Mr. T.J. Rushton FRIBA a partner of Sir Charles Nicholson, cathedral architect with the Dean of Belfast, Very Reverend R.C.H.Elliot. 18/9/1947 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Presbyterian Assembly Buildings and Church House, Gt. Victoria St. Belfast 24/9/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church, Clifton St. Belfast. 13/5/1949 Belfast Telegraph Collection/NMNI
Shaftesbury Square looking towards Gt. Victoria St. and Dublin Road, Belfast. 12/11/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
The Palm House in Botanic Gardens, Belfast. 7/5/1946 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Grand Opera House, The Hippodrome (Odeon), and The Ritz (ABC). In the foreground is a motorcycle and sidecar and a jeep. 5/10/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Exterior of King's Hall, Balmoral. 21/4/1949 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
G.N.R. railway terminus at Belfast 16/12/1937 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Looking along the Albert Bridge to The East Bridge Street Power Station. 2/9/1943 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Painting of Andrew Mulholland, founder of York Street Flax Spinning Company 4/4/1945 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Building of the Sydenham by-pass, a workman using a frog hammer. 25/10/1939 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMN
Donegall Square North from the roof of the City Hall. Air raid shelters in City Hall grounds. Belfast 15/9/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Donegall Square North. Belfast 23/1/1946 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Arthur St. looking towards Arthur Sq. and Cornmarket. 27/4/1943 BELFAST TELEGRAPH COLLECTION/NMNI
Belfast, City Hall and surrounding area. Aerial Photograph. 17/8/1929 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE/NMNI
Stormont.Belfast. 24/10/1947 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE/NMNI
Stormont, painted black with pitch to camouflage it.Trolley bus no. 26. Belfast. 26/3/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE/NMNI
Smithfield market, Belfast.Young boy in a shop selling household furniture lamps and bric a brac. 26/11/1941
The stitching room of the Belfast Collar Company BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Albion limited Group. Machine Department Albion Ltd Belfast 1919
Yardmen busy themselves bottling gas. 30/6/1934
On a tour of the gasworks our photographer is shown the Interior Gaosmeter. 27/4/1934
Linen Industry:Plain Weaving Shop, Brookfield Factory. 3/3/1939
Linen/ Warping, York Street Factory.
Linen/ winding weft yarn. York St. Factory.
Linen, Damask weaving shot. Brookfield factory. York St factory.
Linen Industry:View of Weaving Room, York Street Factory.
Linen Industry:Wet Spinning, York Street Mill.
Albion limited Group. The visit of H.R.H. the Duke Of Gloucester to Albion Ltd Clothing maufacturers Belfast,29th May 1934
Manhattan Beauty Salon, Corn Market. Female customers having their hair styled. 7/5/1940
On a visit to the Gasworks an employee demonstrates the Coal Gripper (The feed system of a coal getting combine, which works with a face conveyor, comprises: a traction device located on the combine and having a cylinder-shaped sprocket on the side surface of which a circular spherical-shaped recess is provided, slots being made on both inner sides of the spherical recess, said slots having an involute-spherical surface) 20/1/1938
Saw repair shop, McMasters, Church Lane. 19/11/1945
Weaving and winding training school at Ewart's factory. Pupils at work in the classroom. 29/1/1948
The Countess Granville, wife of the Ulster Governor and sister of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, cutting ribbon to open childrens play centre at Bessbrook. 15/9/1945
Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, visit to Northern Ireland 1945. Arriving in Belfast, being recieved by Lord Londonderry at Assembly Hall for degree ceremony at Queens. 14.9.1945
James Magennis:Ulsterman awarded The Victoria Cross (VC). Belfastman decorated for his heroic actions onboard the X.E.11 Midget Submarine returning from the attack on a japanese cruiser. James Magennis with Lord Mayor Sir Crawford McCullagh at a civic reception in Belfast in 1945.
Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, visit to Northern Ireland 1945. Arriving in Belfast and being greeted at the City Hall by Sir Crawford McCullagh. 14/9/1945.
BBC's Radio entertainer, Mr Gillie Potter, pictured here in Belfast. 17/2/1948
Hon. Edward Carson, son of late Lord Carson of Duncairn, and his wife arriving for the Unionist Council meeting. 19/2/1948
Lady Carson, widow of Lord Carson of Duncairn, and Lady Brooke, at Stormont House. 17/2/1948
Sir Malcolm Sargent, Conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with his hosts, the P.M., Lord Brookeborough, and Lady Brooke, at Stormont. 24/6/1947
Sir Arnold McNair, Judge of the Court of International Justice at the Hague, with Lady McNair and Professor J. L. Montrose. 22/10/1947
The stitching room of the Belfast Collar Company BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Rabbi Jacob Shachter, Rabbi Belfast, Rabbi Dr I. Herzog, Chief Rabbi elect of the Holy Land, and Mr J Hurwitz at Belfast railway station. 15/3/1937
Craftsmen finish work on the Royal Courts of Justice, Oxford Street, Belfast, under the watchful of Lord Craigavon. 14/4/1933 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The opening of the Royal Courts of Justice, Oxford Street, Belfast. 31/5/1933 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Stonemasons finish work on the outside of the Royal Courts of Justice, Oxford Street, Belfast. April 1933 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Aerial of Belfast Harbour, Thompson Wharf. 12/8/1937 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Belfast Custom House, Custom House Square, Belfast. 28/1/1930 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Belfast Custom House, Custom House Square, Belfast. 14/4/1928 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Belfast Harbour, The Quay's at the turn of the twentieth century.
The construction of the Albert Memorial, dating back yo 1867.
The interior of Belfast City Hall. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The interior of Belfast City Hall. The vault and storeroom at City Hall. 5/1/1934 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The collapse of the central arches of the Albert Bridge. 15/9/1886 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The Albert Bridge. 15/1/1932 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Belfast City Hall. Donegall Square. As it looked in 1930 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Belfast City Hall. Donegall Square. In 1912 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Belfast City Hall. Donegall Square. Under construction in 1906 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The interior of Belfast City Hall. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The interior of Belfast City Hall. 18/8/1939 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The interior of Belfast City Hall. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The interior of Belfast City Hall. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The interior of Belfast City Hall. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
The interior of Belfast City Hall. 1951 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
City Hall from Wellington Place, Belfast. 5/10/1942 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE/NMNI

Belfast’s history as a modern town begins on 27 April 1613. A royal charter, issued in the name of James I, transformed what had been a collection of dwellings by a river crossing into a legal entity governed by a corporation of 13 men, headed by a sovereign.

At the time the change was not seen as particularly significant.

 The new charter, in fact, was one of forty issued at around this time, partly to promote the economic development of Ireland by extending its urban network and partly, since the new towns each sent two members to the Irish parliament, to ensure a safe government majority in the forthcoming parliamentary session.

 The land on which the new borough stood was part of a large estate just granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, in return for his services in the recent conquest of Gaelic Ulster. The centre of Chichester’s estate, however, was the much longer established Carrickfergus, and that is where he initially took up residence. It was not until the 1630s that the family realised their mistake, and transferred their residence to a rebuilt or much-expanded mansion in what was now emerging as the more important centre at Belfast.

The reason why Belfast blossomed in this unexpected way lay in its geographical position. Already in the Middle Ages it had been recognised as a strategic site, marked by a castle, because of the sandbar that created a shallow crossing point on the broad, meandering River Lagan. In addition the Lagan Valley provided a natural corridor stretching into a fertile agricultural region which also, from the late 17th Century, became a centre of linen spinning and weaving.

As the Irish economy expanded, Belfast thus became both a communications hub and an increasingly busy port. Around 1685 the importance of the river crossing was confirmed when the ford was replaced by a stone bridge of 21 arches (the ‘Long Bridge’), the largest structure of its kind in Ireland at that time. In 1731, Belfast became the first Ulster port to open a direct two-way trade across the Atlantic, exporting linen, beef, pork, and butter to the

French and British colonies in North America and the Caribbean, and importing flaxseed, timber, sugar and tobacco.

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At this stage Belfast was still a relatively small centre. It had just two main streets, Waring Street, the site of the original settlement, and High Street, initially a quay on either side of the River Farset, with the street emerging as the water was gradually culverted over.

The population in 1757 was about 8,500. From the 1760s, however, the first marquis of Donegall, now head of the Chichester family and still the sole owner of the land on which the town stood, promoted a major programme of rebuilding, extending the town centre by the construction of North Street, Donegall Street, Castle Place and Donegall Place. Meanwhile the town’s exports continued to rise, with the boom in transatlantic trade. In particular, Belfast now became the unchallenged capital of Ulster’s hugely successful linen manufacture, an achievement confirmed by the construction in 1785 of the White Linen Hall on the site of the present City Hall. By 1800, the population of the town had risen to around 20,000. Today two fine buildings, the former poor house on Clifton Street, and Rosemary Street Presbyterian church, stand as memorials of this age of prosperity and urban improvement.

Eighteenth-century Belfast was still primarily a port and commercial centre. The linen on which much of its prosperity depended was spun and woven in households across rural Ulster, before being collected at fairs and markets for export through Belfast. In the late 1770s, however, the first factories appeared using the new technology of water or steam powered machinery to spin thread. Initially the fabric produced was cotton, where Irish firms faced stiff competition from Scottish and English producers. From 1826, however, it became possible to apply machine spinning to Belfast’s speciality, linen. Factory based industry now spread rapidly, with migrants flocking from the countryside in search of employment.

Visitors talked of Belfast, with a population of almost 100,000 in 1851, as Ireland’s Manchester. Over the next few decades the

establishment of the shipbuilding firms of Harland and Wolff in 1858 and Workman, Clark and Company in 1880 laid the foundations for the second great pillar of the town’s prosperity.

Where linen employed mainly women, in an industry increasingly vulnerable to competition from low cost producers in eastern Europe, shipbuilding, and other branches of engineering that developed in association with it, created well-paid employment for skilled male workers, thus securing the town’s future as a thriving industrial centre.

The growth of shipbuilding and heavy engineering, in a region without its own supplies of coal and iron, is at first sight difficult to explain. Something was owed to the design skills of Edward Harland, and to the close personal links with major shipping lines developed by Gustav Wolff and by a later director, William Pirrie. Harland and Wolff also benefited from entering shipbuilding late, and hence with the latest technology.

But the most important factor, once again, was geography.

At a time when the existing shipbuilding centres on the Mersey and Clyde were becoming increasingly congested, Belfast offered a new site, with excellent port facilities and a short sea crossing that facilitated the easy circulation of raw materials and technical expertise. Belfast’s massive growth set it clearly apart from other Irish centres, where the 19th Century brought industrial decline and depopulation. For much of this period its inhabitants continued to see themselves as residents of an Irish city. Queen Victoria, visiting Belfast in 1849, was welcomed with shamrocks, harps and banners proclaiming Céad Mile Fáilte.

Later, in response to the rise in other provinces of an increasingly aggressive Catholic nationalism, this sense of an Irish identity became more problematic. Instead it became fashionable to emphasise the contrasts between Belfast and the rest of Ireland, and in particular to stress the town’s Scottish heritage.

Nationalists, on the other hand, continued to insist that Belfast was just another Irish city, oblivious to how little their vision of a rural Ireland cut off from the rest of the world by economic and cultural protectionism had to offer to a city whose past and future were so bound up with the international economy.

The fascination of Belfast lies precisely in its dual character — as a British industrial city located on the island of Ireland, and as an Irish city that played a significant part in the process by which the United Kingdom became for a time the workshop of the world.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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