area around Ballyhackamore was once the centre
of racing in Ireland and the Sandown Road was in fact
part of the course.
Strandtown was so named
due to the golden strand which stretched from the bottom
of Connsbrook to Holywood, and was popular as a beach
for outings in summer time.
Two of the most important industries
of Belfast in the last century were based at
the bottom of the Newtownards Road. No, not the shipyard,
but a glassworks and a pottery (Downshire) which gained
a worldwide reputation. These businesses are long since
forgotten but in their heyday they represented the trend
for growing commercialisation in East Belfast which
culminated in the rise of Harland and Wolff to the status
of best in the world. Add also the influence of the
Belfast Ropeworks, Sirocco, and Shorts, and it's not
hard to understand why the East has always been the
engineering heart of the city.
A number of prominent East Belfast
citizens were involved in the 1798 rebellion
all true Presbyterians of course and they
are recorded for ever in the archives of the court records
and some can still be traced to family plots in local
William Holmes Smiles, who
founded the Belfast Rope Works in the early 1870s, was
the son of Dr Samuel Smiles, the author of the Victorian
classic, Self Help. William Smiles lived at Westbank
on Palmerston Road. Mrs Lucy Smiles was half-sister
to Mrs Beeton, the Victorian cookery expert. They had
eleven children and, with William Smiles riding at the
front, the entire family (both parents and all children)
went for a cycle ride every Saturday afternoon from
Westbank at Strandtown to Newtownards, Bangor, Donaghadee
and back. One of the children was Lt-Col Sir Walter
Dorling Smiles, who became an MP and died on The Princess
Victoria sinking in 1953.
The Coates family, who created
the Lagan Foundry in the Lagan Village (at the bottom
of the Ravenhill Road), built and owned Woodstock Road,
Moore Street, Swift Street, Hamilton Place, Woodstock
Place, Ravenhill Road, Victor Street, Glenwherry Street,
Mount Street, Henryville Street, Malcolm Lane, Radnor
Street, Halcombe Street, Spring Street, Grovefield Street,
Well Street, Lawnmount Street, My Lady's Road, Shamrock
Street, Glentoran Street, Rathmore Street, Wallace's
Row, Murray's Place, Ballarat Street, St Kilda's Street,
Bendigo Street, Dunvegan Street, Carrington Street,
Park Parade, Coates' Row, McMullan's Lane, Bennett's
Place, Dann's Row and Albertbridge Road!!
The obituary of Sir Edward Harland
(December 1895) in The Northern Whig stated that
"He cared during [the early days of Harland &
Wolff] very little for his personal comfort, or even
for the not very agreeable effluvia from the river.
He had not, he said, suffered from the stench; he did
not see therefore why others should consider it a nuisance.
During those years, when he was engaged in building
up his fame and fortune with his ships, he had to content
himself often with somewhat hard fare. He not long ago
talked of the days when he went to work with a herring
for breakfast in his pocket".