Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Henderson of Norwood Tower


JAMES HENDERSON (1766-1834), of Castlereagh, County Down, married Amelia Magill, and was father of

JAMES HENDERSON (1797-1853), of Newry, County Down, Proprietor, Newry Telegraph, who wedded Ann Peacock, and had issue,
George, b 1814;
Henry, b 1820;
Isabella; two other daughters.
Mr Henderson was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES ALEXANDER HENDERSON JP (1823-83), of Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast, Mayor of Belfast, 1873-4, Proprietor, Belfast Newsletter, who wedded Agnes, daughter of Alexander Mackay, Junior, of Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, Joint Proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter, and had issue,
JAMES, 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 was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JAMES HENDERSON JP DL (1848-1914), of Oakley House, Windsor Park, Belfast, who married Martha Pollock and had issue,
David, 1881;
James, 1889;
OSCARof whom hereafter;
George York, MC (1893-1917), k/a;
Richard Lilburn, 1895;
Mary Agnes Florence Elizabeth, 1899.
Sir James, Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1898, and the first High Sheriff of the city, was credited with the building of the new City Hall.

He was born at Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, the home of his grandfather, Alexander Mackay; took a law degree at Trinity College, Dublin; was 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's younger son,

COMMANDER OSCAR HENDERSON DSO CVO CBE RN (1891-1969), married, in 1920, Alicia Mary Henry.
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 large 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-two 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 (Mary Agnes) Florence Elizabeth Henderson, his aunt, died.

She decided, however, to bequeath the estate, together with a majority holding in Belfast News Letter shares, to the Musgrave (baronets) side of the family. 

Drawing by the Rev McC Auld

This was a bitter blow to Oscar and his family.

They could do nothing about the property, 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, in 1949, Rachel Primrose Forrest, daughter of Colonel John Forrest CMG, of Belfast, in 1949, and had issue, 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.

Commander Henderson's 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. 

Brum married, secondly, in 1970, 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.

Anonymous said...

Glenalmond House still very much in existence. VC

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.

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.


Demetrius said...

We were at Ballynahinch for a time in August 1967 as I recall. A very pleasant spot, especially for our young children.