Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Morning Star

THE MORNING STAR, 17-19 Pottinger's Entry, Belfast, is a two-storey public house, reputedly dating from ca 1820.

It is one of the longest-operating licensed premises in the city.

The building occupies the corner site of Pottinger's Entry and Pottinger's Court, an alley which was first mentioned in a map of 1715.

The Bar comprises two storeys, with a pilastered front, moulded base panels, and etched glass windows.

The current building had certainly been erected by at least 1850, when maps depicted the building along its current layout.

Griffith's Valuation recorded that it was occupied by John and William Riddel in 1860 (the Riddels were iron and metal merchants who utilized the premises on Pottinger's Entry as a store and workshop).

The premises were valued at £25 in 1860; however, by 1863, the site had been converted into a licensed "spirit shop and stores" operated by Mr J Steenman.
Mr Steenman was recorded as the occupant of the site between 1863-81, although the Belfast Street Directories state that the "wine stores" were administered by the Malcolmson Brothers in 1868, George McChesney in 1877, and William Nixon in 1880, presumably the publicans.
In 1892, the property was acquired by James McEntee and Henry McKenna, two publicans who also owned pubs in the area around Castle Street.

The property was recorded as a "Licensed House" and had been increased in value to £65.

McEntee and McKenna's partnership had been dissolved by 1900, when Henry McKenna was the sole occupier of the site.

In that year the valuer increased the rateable value of the premises to £95 and noted that McKenna paid annual rent of £60 to William Riddel.
Henry McKenna's public house also included a bottling store which was located off Pottinger's Entry, in Pottinger's Court.
Mr McKenna continued to operate the public house until 1926.

In 1913, the site was first referred to as The Morning Star Bar in street directories. 
The Irish Builder records that in 1924 renovation work was carried out to the bar which repaired damage incurred during an arson assault. The Morning Star was burnt out in a sectarian attack, part of the sectarian violence common in the post-partition years of 1921-23. Renovation work was carried out by Messrs F & J McCardle.
In 1935, the bar was administered by the Madden Brothers, having passed from Henry McKenna in 1924.

There was no further valuation of the pub carried out for the next two decades due to the disruption of the 2nd World War.

The Morning Star narrowly survived the Belfast Blitz of 1941 whilst many neighbouring building on High Street and Bridge Street were levelled.

The Morning Star is, without doubt, the earliest building currently standing on Pottinger's Entry; however, the exact construction date of the two-storey building is difficult to determine.

The Morning Star maintains a historic tradition stretching back as early as 1810, when the Belfast Newsletter supposedly made reference to the building as "one of the terminals for the Belfast to Dublin mail coach".

However, the building was probably not utilised as a public house or tavern at this time, and it was not until 1863 that the building was first referred to as a licensed premises.

The Morning Star was refaced in 1892, when Messrs McEntee and McKenna took possession of the site and added its Victorian features.

Much of the current bar dates from the 1924 renovation of the building following a sectarian arson attack.

Law states that the renovation was carried out shortly after the Madden Bros. acquired the Morning Star Bar from McKenna in 1924.
The Maddens also owned the Ivy Bar in Church Lane; Dufferin House in Whitla Street; the Sportsman's Arms in York Street; and spirit stores in Duncairn Gardens.
The current horseshoe bar and the exterior sign are amongst the features installed as a result of the Madden Bros. 1924 reconstruction.

Having undergone a further extensive renovation in the 1960s, The Morning Star was listed in 1986.

Marcus Patton OBE, writing in 1993, described the public house as a
two-storey stucco building of considerable character, tall pilastered front with etched glass windows and boldly moulded base panels; projecting sign in brass and glass with bronze urn on top; a winged lion stands guard over the corner entrance.

The features described, including the exterior sign, continue to adorn the façade of the public house.

Although it is not possible to identify the precise origins of The Morning Star, the building is significant as the sole surviving remnant of the former street-scape of Pottinger's Entry, one of Belfast's original entries dating from at least the early-18th century.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Umbrella Collection

I have a Number One umbrella, for special occasions; a Number Two, which is used more often; and a country umbrella, which has a National Trust logo.

The Number One is manufactured by Swaine, Adeney and Brigg

It is a Prince of Wales Malacca umbrella, with a sterling silver nose-cap and collar. The collar displays an engraving of the Prince of Wales's feathers and Warrant. 

This umbrella is of solid construction and feels sturdy. Click on the image above to see intricate detail.

The Number Two is a lighter umbrella with a Whangee handle. This belonged to my father and I'm rather fond of it.

The country umbrella is considerably larger in size and canopy than the town umbrellas; heavier, too.

A fourth umbrella is broken and, consequently, no longer used. 

It was a gift from my late father, bought in Harrod's before Fayed got his hands on the store. 

This umbrella has an ebonized handle with a gold-plated nose-cap. I'm open to offers, though the canopy would require restoration! 

I might consider offering it for sale on an auction website at some future time.

First published in 2010.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Stormont Visit

I paid a visit to that noble and august edifice, viz. the Parliament Buildings, at Stormont, Belfast, yesterday.

I had an appointment with a member of staff, who very kindly took the time to show me many of the principal state reception rooms, including the Senate Chamber, Assembly Chamber, Members' Dining-Room, etc.

Major construction works are presently being undertaken in the building. I gather it needs a new roof.

The main restaurant or dining-room is in the basement, where we had tea and scones.

I was sorely tempted by the splendid Ulster Fry, though desisted lest I metamorphose into Billy Bunter.

There is a grander dining-room upstairs, near the centre of the building.

My favourite room is the former Senate Chamber, which is largely intact from any major alterations.

Its plush red leather upholstery and ambiance is, I gather, quite reminiscent of the House of Lords at Westminster.

It was indeed poignant to see a large picture of Sir Norman Stronge, Speaker of the NI House of Commons from 1945-69 (I had the honour of meeting Sir Norman once or twice in the early 1970s).

I spent about two hours in the building before driving out the side entrance, along Massey Avenue.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Lisburn Road Walk

20 Windsor Avenue, Belfast

I had a very early appointment at Belfast City Hospital yesterday morning - at eight-thirty - which necessitated another visit to the same unit precisely three hours afterwards.

I had some time to kill.

So wearing the old British Warm overcoat, the woollen scarf, and gloves, I decided to walk up the Lisburn Road.

I haven't walked along this busy arterial route for about eleven years.

I seem to recall there having been more charity shops. There are still several.

I stopped to have a look at old Ulsterville Presbyterian Church, at number 139, which has been transformed into a restaurant called Saphyre.

I walked as far as Drumglass Park, former seat of the Musgrave Baronets.

20, Windsor Avenue (top), was once the home of Thomas Andrews, designer of RMS Titanic.

This is now the headquarters of the Irish Football Association.

Most of these large villas had been converted into flats by the 1970s.

Windsor Park rang a bell (not the soccer grounds!). I recalled an old pal who is now incarcerated - if that is the word -  in a nursing home there.

Accordingly, I paid him a visit for about an hour. They were kind enough to offer me a cup of tea.

It's a pleasant enough place. It even has BT Openzone; though I was concerned to see my friend bedridden.

I had to keep an eye on the time, so closer to eleven o'clock I bade him Farewell and walked back to the hospital.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Brackenber Dinner

Old Boys! Unearth the Number One nose-bag and do make an effort to attend the annual Brackenbrian bash within the hallowed opulence of the Ulster Reform Club, Royal Avenue, Belfast.

The annual Old Brackenbrian dinner is being held on Friday, 6th February, 2015, at 7.45pm.

There will be a bar!

I attended the dinner last year and, as usual, it proved to be a most enjoyable occasion. I wrote about it here.

The dress code is "smart-casual". 

The cost of the meal this year will remain, yet again, at £30.

Old Brackenbrians are requested to reply early and include the payment - cheques should be made payable to Brackenber House Association (or BHA).

Old Brackenbrians are encouraged to make every effort to attend (please cancel all prior engagements!); and also try to contact old colleagues who may have been absent in recent years to come and see if we can make this year the biggest turnout for many years.

Please reply before the 2nd February, 2015, to (please note different recipient for replies):

Gordon Harvey Esq
54 Greenwood Glen

If you are replying by email, please reply to:

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Belmont Hamburger

Having gone to a certain degree of diligence earlier, I present The uncommon Belmont Hamburger: Half a pound of lean Ulster beef, mixed with seasoning, garlic, and tomato purée.

The chips, comprising two Maris Piper potatoes, were personally chipped, and triple-cooked.

The sauce consisted of mayonnaise, mustard, a pinch of caster sugar, and fine raw onion.

The ancient nose-bag quivered with glee, and its performance was not inadequate.

Orangefield Revisited

I revisited Orangefield Park this morning. Much work has been undertaken in the Park since my last visit a few years ago.

The Knock River has been diverted through the park; new bridges abound; and new, enhanced paths and lighting.

Little or no evidence remains of the Blakiston-Houstons' country estate, except perhaps a number of old trees.

Orangefield Lane entrance in 2015; the site of twin gate lodges

The Orangefield Lane entrance has been completely renovated and a footbridge now crosses the river.

Twin gate lodges once stood here.

The name "Orangefield" aroused my curiosity.

Photo credit: Matt Maginnis © 2013
Orangefield House was finally swept away by Belfast City Council in the early 1970s.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Sheriff Appointments


COUNTY ANTRIM: John Pinkerton Esq, Ballymoney

COUNTY ARMAGH: Mrs Anna Louise Shepherd, Tandragee

COUNTY DOWN: Patrick Cross Esq, Downpatrick

COUNTY FERMANAGH: Mrs Hope Kerr, Enniskillen

COUNTY LONDONDERRY: Mrs Helen Mark, Limavady

COUNTY TYRONE: Dr Lisheen Webb, Benburb

COUNTY BOROUGH OF BELFAST: Councillor Gareth McKee, Newtownabbey

COUNTY BOROUGH OF LONDONDERRY: Mrs Harvinder Torney, Londonderry