Monday, 4 April 2011

Brackenber Research


I paid PRONI a visit last week in order to carry out some research on my old prep school, Brackenber House:-

The very first entry in the Belfast street directory that I can see for Cherryhill House is in 1852. It was built for the Ward family, erstwhile gunpowder merchants, damask and table linen manufacturers. Thomas Ward carried out business at 25 Bridge Street in Belfast (close to High Street); and, in 1852, his residence was Cherryhill at Malone.

In 1876, Cherryhill extended to twelve acres.

Cherryhill Estate was between Adelaide House and Montpelier House where, in 1863, the Reverend John Wrixton, Rector of St John's Malone, resided.

A Miss Ward still lived at Cherryhill in 1924.

By the 1930s, Brackenber House School had opened at 29/33 Windsor Park, Belfast.

In July,1939, Cherryhill at Malone was purchased by Brackenber for £2,250 (£115,000 in today's money), subject to a ground rent of £15.

By August 1939, the grounds at Cherryhill had been levelled and left in a fairly tidy condition. At the back of the house, land was now square, a portion having been allotted to one of the new houses. Sewers and water supply were to be tested, too.

The interior of house was inspected and practically all pipes, baths etc were taken out and renewed by Mr Wadman. The roof was inspected for dry-rot or wood beetle. A new gas supply was provided.

On the 26th October, 1939, the estate agent, Mr McConnell, had a conversation with Mr Harkness and Mr Kerr after inspection of Cherryhill house. There was talk of some woodworm; Mr Harkness would be prepared to accept a price of £3,750 free of rent, including approximately one and a half acres.

The ground floor of what was to become Brackenber had four reception  rooms; first floor, five main bedrooms, three smaller rooms and bathroom; second floor, five main bedrooms, two smaller rooms etc.  The House was considered suitable for a hostel, school etc.

Re the grounds: “The land round the house … will be very considerably curtailed; the major part is on a slope; land badly cut up by removal of trees".

The House: of sandstone, most substantially built; roof slated; leadwork and spouts require attention; outside woodwork need painting.

Surveyors were asked to examine a fence along the south boundary (Cleaver Avenue side), which was in a very bad state of repair. Several of the posts had rotted; consequently the fence was lying over. Also, a good many of the slats were missing.

The interior of the house was inspected and practically all pipes, baths etc were taken out and renewed by Mr Wadman. The roof was inspected for dry-rot or wood beetle. A new gas supply was provided.

I expect to revisit PRONI and undertake further research on the school.

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

Tim, surely there's the beginnings of a series on the main houses of Malone here? - similar to what you've done with east Belfast.

W.

Timothy Belmont said...

I'd never thought of that; must have a look at a few street directories next time I'm up at PRONI.

By the way, the street directories up to 1900 are online now, which is terrific - no need to visit PRONI for that.

Anonymous said...

Tim - interesting stuff. I guess it means that the air-raid shelter which was present in the grounds of BHS up till the early 70s must have been put in quite soon after the school moved to Cleaver Ave.

Cheers,
J