Report by Sandra Millsopp
Bangor Historical Society welcomed Aidan Campbell to its meeting on 9 February 2017. Aidan has raised money for charity by producing books of photographs on different areas of east Belfast such as Castlereagh, Cherryvalley, and Gilnahirk. The current number of books is 14 and the total raised stands at £135,000. He started by raising money for Marie Curie and other charities have been added to this. He has been awarded a BEM for his work.
The talk was about some of the big houses of east Belfast and was illustrated by old photographs. J. Connopís 1864 view of Sydenham, Belmont and Glenmachan and old maps of the area showed how much it had changed.
Connsbrook House was built by Hugh Frazer in 1813 and named after the river. It was demolished a few years ago. Aspenville was the home of James Entwistle who was credited with bringing the Sydenham name to the area. It was demolished about 20 years ago. It was later called Beechgrove and was the home of the wine merchant Edward Gullery. It is now the site of Sycamore Grove.
Edgecumbe, built in 1837, stood on a 26 acre site and was the home of the Workman family. It was used by the military in World War II and then became a residential home. It too was demolished some years ago. Norwood Tower was built in the 1850s and was the home of the Henderson family, owners of the Belfast News-Letter. The 50 acre-site was sold after the Second World War.
Craigavon was built about 1870 for James Craig, father of the Prime Minister and part-owner of the Dunville Distillery. It passed to his son and became a centre for opposition to Home Rule. The house later became the UVF hospital. Marmont was built in 1864 and is now the Mitchell Special School.
Knocknagoney House was built in 1880 and survives as a police facility. Schomberg House was erected in 1860 for the Ewart family, linen merchants. The Schomberg name is retained for the housing development on the site, close to Campbell College. The latter stands on the site of Belmont House, built for Sir Thomas McClure. Netherleigh House was owned by the Robertsons of Ledlie, Ferguson and Robertson, later the Bank Buildings. It is now a government building in Massey Avenue. The Hall-Thompson family also lived there before moving to Cairnburn.
Glenmachan was another Ewart family home, built in 1863 and demolished in the 1950s. A family photograph taken in 1919 included Albert Lewis and his two children, C. S. and Warnie. Their mother was a Ewart. Redburn House, built in 1865 was owned by the Dunville family. It had 70 rooms and 16 house staff. Marino House, built as a bathing house about 1750, has been extended over the years.
Chairman Ian Wilson thanked Mr. Campbell for his interesting talk and praised his encyclopaedic knowledge of Eest Belfast. He announced that the annual outing would be on 20 May. The next talk will be given by Keith Haines on Fred Crawford, Carsonís Gunrunner, at 8pm on Thursday 9 March in the North Down Museum.