Old Belfast Street Directory
Welcome back to Kerr’s Corner. The other day I picked up a copy of an old Belfast street directory. This City of Belfast Street Directory and Bus Guide was published by the City Directory Company; ‘Northern Ireland’s leading publishers of Directories, Guide Books, Brochures, etc.’ It’s not dated, but an advertisement for the car hire firm, Moley’s Motors of 49 Victoria Square, advertises ‘new Farina-style Austin A40’s and A55’s, new Morris Oxfords…’ for hire. I checked out these cars on www.motorbase.com and discovered that the Austin models and the Morris Oxford were all produced between 1959 and 1961.
The guide lists all the streets in the city and curiously enough, the ‘Rathcoole Estate (Served by UTA Bus from Smithfield Depot).’ Where ‘Streets progress alphabetically from the Shore Road entrance.’ Most taxi-drivers and long-term residents of the estate are well aware of this fact.
City Streets are listed by where they intersect with main roads. Ballysillan Road is at 771 Crumlin Road and Ballysillan Park is at 252 Ballysillan Road. This can be useful if you’re trying to locate the site of streets, like Moyola Street or Hardinge Street, that have long since been swept away by redevelopment.
The compiler of the guide had a somewhat sardonic sense of humour. Of St Anne’s Cathedral, he writes, ‘The citizens of Belfast (or those of them who from time to time have had a say in these matters) appear to have a particular aptitude for erecting their most noble or most spectacular buildings – except their cinemas – in the places where their nobility or spectacle are least likely to be seen. That is why it is one of the pleasant duties of this Guide to draw your attention to this new Cathedral which is still in the process of being completed.’
Since then, the creation of the Cathedral Gardens at the College of Art and the Writers’ Square facing St Anne’s have improved its setting. They still haven’t finished it, though! There’s still no spire on the top.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the guide is the range of adverts. Who now remembers Duff’s Restaurant and Grill in Callendar Street or the Piccolo Coffee bar in Wellington Place? Certainly not me. We will look at some of these old adverts in a future Kerr’s Corner. In the meantime, you could do worse than look out the Glenravel Publications series of books of pictures of life in our city in the twenties, thirties and forties. Check out their stall every Friday morning in St George’s Market.