Monday, 16 June 2014

Henderson of Norwood Tower

Henderson of Norwood Tower

JAMES HENDERSON (1766-1834), of Castlereagh, County Down, married Amelia Magill, and by her had issue,

JAMES HENDERSON (1797-1853), of Newry, County Down, proprietor of the Newry Telegraph, who wedded Ann Peacock; and by her had issue,
George, b 1814;
Henry, b 1820;
three daughters, one of whom was called Isabella.
The eldest son,

JAMES ALEXANDER HENDERSON JP (1823-83), of Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast; Mayor of Belfast, 1873-74; managing proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter.

Mr Henderson married Agnes, daughter of Alexander Mackay, Junior, of Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, joint proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter, and had, by her, a numerous family, viz.
JAMES (Sir), of whom presently;
Alexander Mackay, b 1850; Major, RIR;
William, 1852-75;
Trevor (Sir), KBE, of Norwood Tower (1862-1930);
Charles Westbourne (1865-1935);
Jane; Anne; Agnes; Catherine Mackay; Florence Elizabeth.
Mr Henderson's eldest son,

undoubtedly the most famous son of James and Agnes, becoming the first Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1898; also the first High Sheriff of the city. He is credited with City Hall at Donegall Square in Belfast.
James Henderson was born at Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, the home of his grandfather, Alexander Mackay; took a law degree at Trinity College, Dublin; called to the Irish Bar, 1872; editor of the Newry Telegraph, 1873-83.
He became managing proprietor of the Belfast News-Letter and Belfast Weekly News; was appointed President of the Master Printers’ Federation of Great Britain and Ireland; was made a Freeman of the City of Belfast in 1912; and was knighted by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at Viceregal Lodge, Phoenix Park, Dublin, in January, 1899.
Sir James, of Oakley House, Windsor Park, Belfast,  married Martha Pollock and had issue,
David, b 1881;
James, b 1889;
OSCAR, of whom hereafter;
George York, MC (1893-1917); k/a;
Richard Lilburn, b 1895;
Mary Agnes Florence Elizabeth, b 1899.
COMMANDER OSCAR HENDERSON DSO CVO CBE RN (1891-1969), who married Alicia Mary Henry in 1920.
Commander Henderson served in a destroyer during the 1st World War and he was second-in-command of HMS Iris at the famous Battle of Zeebrugge, in April 1918, when a British force blocked the Mole by sinking a ship across the entrance.
Commander Henderson assumed command when the Captain was killed, and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his part in this epic He became Comptroller and Private Secretary to the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, 1st Governor of Northern Ireland, and was awarded a CVO and CBE for his services. 

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

During the 19th century, the Hendersons lived at Norwood Tower, Strandtown, County Down, a fine castellated mansion in its own grounds.

This rambling Tudor-Revival mansion had two gate-lodges, each about a quarter of a mile apart.

The first lodge was a little beyond the entrance to Clonaver House, the Hendersons' former dower house, which was sold to James Girdwood; while the second lodge was almost opposite the entrance to Ardvarna House.

The gate lodges were both battlemented; while the house, set in a landscaped park, was dominated by a lofty, castellated tower.

The grounds of fifty acres extended to the top of Circular Road and Sydenham Avenue. 

It was assumed that Norwood Tower or its dower house, Clonaver, would pass to Oscar Henderson when Florence Elizabeth, his aunt, died; but she decided to leave both, together with a majority holding in Belfast News Letter shares, to the Musgrave (baronets) side of the family. 

©The Rev McC Auld MA

It was a bitter blow to Oscar and his family. They could do nothing about the houses but they did succeed in buying back the News-Letter shares. 

Commander Henderson and his wife Alicia had two sons:

1. Captain Oscar William James (Bill) Henderson OBE DL (1924-2010); educated at Brackenber House School and Bradfield; married Rachel Primrose Forrest, daughter of Colonel John Forrest CMG, of Belfast, in 1949. They had three daughters.

2. Robert Brumwell (Brum) Henderson CBE DL (1929-2005); educated, like his brother, at Brackenber House School, Belfast, and Bradfield; took his degree at Trinity College Dublin. His first wife was Joy Duncan whom he married in 1952.

Brum Henderson became a career journalist in the Belfast News Letter from 1951-59; was appointed general manager of Ulster Television in 1959; managing director, 1961; and Chairman, 1983-92.

He was appointed CBE in 1979 and received an honorary doctorate of Literature at the Ulster University, 1982.

Brum published a number of books, including Midnight Oil (1961), A Television First (1977) and Amusing (1984). He was a director of ITN from 1964-66; a Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast; a director of Reuters and of the Press Association; and gave many years of service to the Newspaper Society.

A golfer of distinction, he was once runner-up in the Irish Open Championship. They had two daughters. 

In 1970 Brum married, secondly, Patricia Ann, daughter of Matthew Davison, of Belfast.

They lived at Ballynahinch, County Down.

Illustration of gate lodge courtesy of the Rev McConnell Auld.    First published in March, 2011.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if you'd get planning permission for such a large and eccentric house in the Belfast suburbs today? VC

Anonymous said...

I see the Hendersons - at least initially - leased Norwood from a David S. Ker.


Anonymous said...

The Ker family owned much of the sorrounding lands and would have leased the ground but would not have built the property

David Thompson

Irishlad said...

In the 80's i worked in Dundonald and when coming across from North Belfast i sometimes used the Glenmachan Rd simply because it was a much more pleasant route compared to the Newtownards Rd.Anyway there was a large red brick house sat atop the hill and i thought then it belonged to the Hendersons, however in recent years it seems to have disappeared..any one to enlighten me please?

Timothy Belmont said...

Would that be Glenalmond House, Quarry Road?

I think it was originally built by the McConnells of the Moat.

Capt and Mrs Henderson lived there till he retired; they then moved to Holywood.

Irishlad said...

Possibly..but is the house gone now? Any photographs of it?

Anonymous said...

Glenalmond House still very much in existence. VC

Anonymous said...

Glenalmond House is still very much in existence.

Irishlad said...

Coming along the carrageway from the roundabout at the Belmont Rd to the Holywood Rd one could see the house clearly to the right, on it's own ,top of the hill. Now if we're talking about the same house it doesn't appear to be there.

Timothy Belmont said...

Norwood Tower was demolished circa 1954; thus we have Norwood Park, Gatrdens, Drive, Crescent etc.

Anonymous said...

My Aunt worked as a cook for Lady Musgrave at Norwood Tower after WW2 I have a photograph of her and Sam White, Gardener, standing by the greenhouse.

Timothy Belmont said...

Hello JT

I'd be very eager indeed to post an image of your aunt at the geenhouse.

I don't suppose she talked much about life there?


Dora said...


My granny Elizabeth Musgrave grew up in Norwood Tower and I too wold love to see that photo of your aunt - although I realise that comment was made over a year ago!

She lives in Greece now, but when I go over this summer I will try and scan in some photos from her childhood and share.


Timothy Belmont said...

DS, I'm always eager to receive historical photos from readers. Many thanks indeed for your comments.