Kerr's Corner

Kerr's Corner is a regular feature in East Antrim and Newtownabbey editions of The Wizard. David Kerr would like to hear your memories of life in your own area. Maybe you'll trigger some thoughts for a future column.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

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 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.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Notes in the margin

The ink had barely dried on last issue’s piece on the Class of 74 when I met an old classmate I haven’t seen since leaving Rathcoole Secondary School nearly thirty years ago.

I was standing in Fountain Street discussing the ‘science of self-realisation’ and the merits of Krishna Consciousness with an earnest young man when a man who seemed vaguely familiar interrupted us. He recognised me but I had to be prompted. He was John Jenkins; once a regular star in the annual school plays and now a successful builder in the East Antrim area. He told me that he’s often thought of holding a school reunion. I think it’s a great idea! Kerr’s Corner will keep you posted if anything develops out of it.