Monday, 30 January 2017

BH Memoirs: VIII

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN MATTHEW BLAKISTON-HOUSTON DL (1898-1984), OF BELTRIM CASTLE, COUNTY TYRONE, AND RODDENS, COUNTY DOWN, WAS BORN AT ORANGEFIELD HOUSE, NEAR BELFAST


HE SERVED IN THE FIRST AND SECOND WORLD WARS; WAS AIDE-DE-CAMP TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF AUSTRALIA, 1929-30; HIGH SHERIFF OF COUNTY DOWN, 1944; DEPUTY LIEUTENANT OF COUNTY DOWN, 1946; HIGH SHERIFF OF COUNTY TYRONE, 1954


Just before the War the Belfast Corporation had bought Orangefield farmyard and 46 acres of land as park.

We leased the farm buildings from the purchasers at a very high rent, so I purchased Carrowreagh Farm of 220 acres and left Lettice and Joe Barbour (the land steward) the enormous task of carrying out the necessary alterations and moving into it.

My leave had been extended a further two months at the request of Basil Brooke, our Prime Minister.

As Roddens House was burnt down in 1939, Lettice and the children had temporarily been living in the land steward's house.

We purchased Beltrim Castle, Gortin, County Tyrone, in 1944, but as it was occupied by American forces, we were unable to move in until 1946.

In January, 1945, I stood for the two member constituency of County Down, for the Imperial Parliament.

The Rev Dr Little and Lord Castlereagh were the two sitting members, but Castlereagh decided not to stand again.

I was one of thirteen candidates – Unionist – to present themselves to the delegates and came out top, with Sir Walter Smiles second.

Dr Little, annoyed that he was not automatically accepted as an official candidate would not allow his name to go forward on the official candidates list.

He then, with another man called Brown, elected to stand as an unofficial Unionist.

Smiles and I were thus the official candidates, and Little and Brown went to the polls against us as unofficial Unionist candidates.

The result, after a very bitter election, was Little and Smiles elected and I came next.

What a horrible life it would have been!

This was my second and last attempt to become an MP at Westminster.

I had been a member of the Down County Council since 1936.

I did not distinguish myself in local government but I’m sure I can claim to be the first member of the Down County Council to give a forwarding address for minutes and correspondence as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!

THIS CONCLUDES MY EXTRACTS OF THE BLAKISTON-HOUSTON MEMOIRS.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

1 comment :

Irishlad said...

Great series Tim,lapping It up..