3: Caring Services
The first school in Dunmurry was located opposite
the N.S. Presbyterian church and with two teachers it
served both boys and girls from 1832 until 1909. After
the 1892 Education Act x it was joined, in
1896, by Trinity and Stevenson schools. By 1901 the
former was run by three teachers and the latter by two.
The starting age of part timers at school was raised
from 8 to 12 years in this year but not until 1930 were
half timers' regulations changed.
Trinity at the south end of the
village was associated with the local Presbyterian
church while Stevenson, at the north end, came as the
result of a family benefaction. Pupils came to both
schools from a catchment area which included the
village, Seymour Hill, Derriaghy, Suffolk and Finaghy.
And from the early 20th century these schools
really became interdenominational in character.
At Trinity1 the average
yearly intake between 1896 and 1915 numbered 49, of
which 25 were girls. From 1916 until 1935 this average
intake increased to about 50, of which 26 were boys, and
thereafter this annual average rose to 64, of which 34
were boys. Records for Stevenson2 suggest an
annual average intake of 26 boys and 24 girls from 1896
until 1914. By World War I the teaching staff had risen
to 3, between 1915 and 1941 the annual intake averaged
31, of whichu26 were boys. There were short-term
influxes as the result of refugees fleeing from Belfast
after the German bombings there in 1941 that killed 863
and injured 2361 persons. Indeed both Dunmurry and
Finaghy schools were used as temporary rest centres
where local teachers and other volunteers provided
support and succour.
Samples of school reports provided by
their inspectors are of interest. Firstly, they suggest
that actual numbers of pupils attending a particular
school fluctuated. Secondly, they indicate that pupil
numbers varied between the two schools. Thirdly, the
total number of pupils attending these schools did
reflect the growth of population. Finally, they yielded
pupil totals that were soon to be affected by the 1930
opening of a new Public Elementary school in the
village, in Glenburn Road.
Estimated pupil numbers at:
x There were four independent
Education Authorities in Ireland until 1921.
Teaching staffs were gradually increased to a principal
with three or four teachers at these two schools, aided
by the short-term appointments of assistants. Staff were
paid monthly at rates related to their seniority and
they enjoyed six weeks holiday in the summer, two weeks
over Christmas and one week at Easter. From the records
it is clear that many of them gave dedicated service to
both the pupils and the schools. Pupils might expect to
spend two or three years in an Infant section, followed
by six or seven years of more advanced lessons. As well
as "the three Rs" (reading, writing and arithmetic) the
curriculum also included drawing, geography, history and
It needs to be recalled that the
Ministry of Education was established here in June 1921
and that between 1923 and 1947 only primary education
was compulsory. Not until 1947 was the statutory leaving
age raised from 14 to 15. As the result of a new
Education Act in 1947 the school scene was to be
transformed by the provision of primary, secondary and
further education. Henceforth Counties and County
Boroughs were also expected to have Education Committees
with designated responsibilities.
In 1928/29 it was officially agreed
that a new Public Elementary school would be built in
Dunmurry3 to accommodate 300 pupils and in
October 1930 it was in being4. Both Trinity
and Stevenson schools were then gradually run down. The
P.E. school register indicates that pupil numbers had
increased significantly by 1938. Pupil totals were
briefly swollen in 1941 but then temporarily declined in
1944 and 1945.
During the second World War years
Larkfield House, off Blacks Road, was first occupied by
American troops but in 1946 part of the site became an
Emergency Training College for ex-Service personnel.
Subsequently there has been another role change with the
establishment of Larkfield Secondary School5.
Nearby, both Princess Gardens girls grammar school' and
Rathmore Convent school were also established. In the
case of Rathmore a preparatory school was opened in
1949, permission was granted for a grammar school in
1953 and then by 1957 St. Anne's primary school was
Population growth and housing
developments soon resulted in the establishment of new
primary and secondary schools in Seymour Hill. Clear
indications of additional needs after 1960 can be judged
from the local school rolls for 1994/5. In Dunmurry
village the primary school served 171 pupils whereas
Seymour Hill provided for 272 primary pupils and St.
Anne's catered for 40 children. Secondary education at
St. Colm's (Twinbrook) provided for 522 children,
Dunmurry High School served 402 children and 231 were on
Larkfield's rolls. Hunterhouse (formerly Princess
Gardens) and Rathmore provided for 667 and 1357 pupils
respectively, with the latter being a coeducational
school. And yet by this date a considerable number of
young people still maintained a well-established habit
of travelling in term time to educational facilities
either in Belfast or in Lisburn.
x Ground for Princess Gardens was
released in 1945.
In 1829 the Rev. Dr. H. Montgomery
and his followers left the established Presbyterian
church in Dunmurry, appropriating the church buildings,
manse and churchyard6. Out of this split
emerged the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian church and a
new Presbyterian church, which was to be consecrated in
the village during 1863. Roman Catholic and Anglican
interests had to be satisfied elsewhere until a much
later date. The former looked to Derriaghy or
Hannahstown for most of the 19th century and
not until 1995 did St. Anne's (Dunmurry) become a parish
church in its own right. Like the nearby convent and
school this church was based upon Rathmore House and its
grounds. The House stood empty after World War II until
1948 when it became used as a convent. An empty storage
facility in the grounds was also converted into a chapel
for public use in December 1948 and was so used until
replaced by a well-appointed church7.
By the time that the present Anglican
church at Drumbeg was consecrated in 1870, a Sunday
School had already been established in Dunmurry8, with
the assistance of Drumbeg's select vestry. Public
pressure for an Anglican church to serve the needs of a
growing population in Dunmurry eventually resulted in a
petition being presented to Drumbeg's select vestry in
December 1903. Not until 1906, however, was a suitable
site acquired and permission given for a chapel of ease
to be built. Thus in 1908 some 308 persons attended the
consecration service at St. Colman's on Church Avenue.
Dunmurry. Time, population growth and sustained effort
were next needed before parish status was achieved in
Early in the 20th century
the percentages of population in Dunmurry townland
subscribing to the main religions were 42½
% Anglican, 38%
Presbyterian and 13½ % Roman Catholic. Of the
remainder the Methodist church had become significant by
1911. In succeeding years the places of worship and the
number of their adherents increased, firstly with the
establishment of two gospel halls in the village and
then by a Baptist church at Blacks Road.
The post World War II housing
developments at Seymour Hill and Conway brought new
Anglican and Presbyterian churches, as well as those for
Methodist, Free Presbyterian and Moravian congregations.
The rector and select vestry at St. Colman's first took
on responsibilities for Anglican incomers to Seymour
Hill where a combined church/hall was dedicated in 1958.
Public demand then led onto parish status being attained
in 1964 followed by the consecration of a new church
building in 1970. As for the Roman Catholic church and
parish in Dunmurry the established church at Derriaghy
played a supportive role similar to that played by St.
Colman's over St. Hilda's at Seymour Hill. A landmark
event in the history of the Presbyterian church in
Ireland is associated with Seymour Hill, when the first
female minister (Ruth Patterson) ever to be appointed on
this island took up her duties there.
x From the 1901 and 1911 Census
Sampled information from local church records gives an
indication of changing fortunes in some Dunmurry
congregations. Marriages in St. Colman's, for example,
between 1908 and 1953 showed a low annual average rate
of two until 1933 followed by an increased rate of four
until 1946 and then another rise to seven annually after
1946. The average annual baptism rate between 1908 and
1918 was 13 in contrast to the average of 22 between
1939 and 1948. The actual baptismal totals in this first
period showed males and females to be in equal numbers
whereas males were more numerous in the latter period.
Funerals averaged 14 per year between 1909 and 1918 but
this average rose to 17 between 1939 and 1948. The
numbers of deceased males and females were virtually the
same in the periods selected9.
In the Presbyterian church the yearly
average rate for marriages in the latter part of the 19th
century and the first decade of the 20th
century numbered seven whereas between 1947 and 1956
this average has risen to 10. Baptisms in the 1950-60
decade produced an average annual rate of 26. The
Communicants Roll Book of members present at communion
services indicated that five year averages of
attendances over the years rose from 92 early in the 20th
century to 160 after 195110.
At the nearby N. S. Presbyterian
church the Baptismal Roll indicates that the average
annual rate of baptisms soon doubled in the immediate
post World War II years. This church possesses the only
village graveyard and a name record of those interred
there. The total number of females buried there between
1911 and 1930 outnumbered males whereas between 1900 and
1950 the male and female burial totals were almost
equal. This name record has further interest, however,
for it suggests that there have been lengthy family
associations with this church and certainly back to the
beginning of the 19th century11.
As well as providing religious and
personal services to their own congregations the local
clergy and church halls soon became involved in other
social events. The religiously inspired "Catch My Pal"
recreational hall was well established on the village
main street by 1916. The hall of the Non-Subscribing
church and then Trinity Hall have both been used
regularly for the local Petty Sessions. Understandably
the available church halls were put to various uses in
World War II for Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.) and Civil
Defense purposes. Clearly the churches and their members
have provided an important and ongoing contribution to
the infrastructure of the local community.
Medical and health care
In 1852 the Dunmurry Dispensary Committee was
established to serve a defined district about the
village. From a small beginning its membership soon grew
to 23. Its presence was quickly made known by public
notices, the establishment of a dispensary in the
village and the appointment of a doctor seeking to give
medical help to poor persons12. By the spring
of 1855 this Committee issued the first of many reports
on the local incidence of water borne diseases related
to poor water supplies and insanitary domestic
conditions. Its members also became involved with the
early establishment of effective vaccination programmes
in their district. And so by 1906 this district was
served by a resident Medical Officer and Sanitary
Inspector, assisted by a Dental nurse, based upon "The
Hill" in the village.
Records suggest that the number of
village based doctors had doubled in the First World War
years and then had doubled again by the end of World War
II. Early in the 1950-60 decade this number of resident
doctors had risen to eight, but not all of them
practiced in the village, but provided their services
The Dunmurry District Nursing Society
was established in 1896 seeking to provide services to
sick, poor people. It continued its activities into the
20th century and the growth of its influence in the
latter part of the 1920-30 decade is indicated by the
fact that their own nurse attended c 66 maternity cases
and 90 general cases in the year. Like a Local Relief
Committee, also providing a range of humanitarian acts
at this time, much depended upon the availability of
local subscriptions and local volunteers13.
It was not until 194514
that the pressing needs for the medical welfare of
mothers and children were officially recognized then
followed by the provision of a purpose built clinic on
the Upper Dunmurry Lane. The full time appointment of
medical officers and qualified sanitary officers came in
1946. Home nursing and after care services became a
responsibility of Local Authorities only in 1948. Also
in these aftermath years of World War II the services of
a residential dentist became available to the village.
Dunmurry's public library" was relocated in the Upper
Dunmurry Lane clinic on March lst 1963. This
increased the pressure on space available for the Health
Care services already there.
Clearly some additional information
is required to set the foregoing material within a wider
provincial context. Firstly, Poor Law Unions were the
sources of District Dispensary Committees and they were
established in the 19th century but continued
to function here until 1946. They were focused upon
sizeable towns across the province to serve these towns
together with their surrounding rural districts, within
a 10 mile radius. Dispensary Districts were set within
Poor Law Unions and created by a subdivision of their
areas of influence. Dispensary medical relief involved
both doctors and nurses under the administration of
Boards of Guardians. Because the Poor Law Union based
upon Lisburn town involved part of Hillsborough's local
Government area the name of Lisburn was used for
Secondly, prior to the Government of
Ireland Act 1920 the development of social care across
the province was slow. Social care then progressed
steadily as Stormont governments followed social care
provisions in Britain. A number of Unemployment Acts (N.I.)
between 1920 and 1925, for example, introduced
compulsory schemes to provide both "standard" and
"extended" benefits. Schemes for the alleviation of
unemployment problems were also provided with grants
from both Westminster and Stormont.
x The local library had
previously been located at the British Legion
Hall on Ulster Avenue.
Thirdly, a most significant set of
changes began shortly after World War II. Especially
important was the National Insurance Act (N.I.) of 1946,
which covered unemployment, sickness, old age and
special needs arising, such as family allowance,
maternity, widowhood and orphanhood15. The
National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946
broadly covered all persons classed as employed in the
aforementioned Act. With the Public Health and Local
Government (Administrative Provisions) Act, also
introduced in the same year, eight Welfare Authorities
(i.e. six Counties and two County Boroughs) were charged
with welfare functions previously carried out by Boards
of Guardians. Shortly afterwards, in 1948, Assistance
Boards were created by Act to be followed a year later
by a Welfare Services Act which extended the powers of
the Welfare Authorities. The scope of changes in health
and social care has subsequently promoted the physical
well being of most citizens in the province.
Caring Services Bibliography
- SCH804/1/1, 2, 3 and 4 in P.R.O.N.I.
- SCH498/1, 2 and 3, also SCH499/1/1 and 3 in
- LA47/2FA/11 in P.R.O.N.I.
- SCH804/1/5 and 6 in P.R.O.N.I. Also
Lisburn Standard Oct. 31st 1930 for official
- LA47/2FA/20 P.R.O.N.I.
- A history of congregations in the
Presbyterian Church of Ireland, 1610-1982.
Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland.
- Verbal information provided by a local
parishioner (F. Hughes).
- Neill M. Ecclesia de Drum.
Universities Press Belfast 1995.
- St. Colman's Funeral, Marriage and Baptism
records inspected on site thanks to Rev. T.
- MIC/IP/453 (1 and 3 Communicant Roll Books);
MIC/IP/453/A/3 Baptisms; MIC/IP/ 453/B/7
Marriages. All in P.R.O.N.I.
- T1602/3 and T1602/1 in P.R.O.N.I.
- History of General Practice in Dunmurry.
A summary statement provided by Dr. D. White
"The Hill" Dunmurry June 1998.
- LA47/2FA/16 in P.R.O.N.I.
- LA47/2FA/18 Report: Recommendations on
Maternity and Child Welfare for Dunmurry. (See
also Lisburn Standard May 25ih
1928 for report on District Nursing Society's
- Ulster Yearbook 1956. H.M.S.O.
4: Change and
Many former residents of Dunmurry townland became
increasingly reliant upon branches of the textile
industry scattered across the area. From small
beginnings in the 18th century branches of
the linen industry flourished in the 19th
century, with significant effects upon population
numbers and their distribution.
One of the older family enterprises,
i.e. the Hunter's, was associated with Dunmurry bleach
green from 1790 until 1873 when it was replaced by
Crawford's. In 1837 Hunter's employed some 50 men, but
30 years later involved 31 men and 9 women who worked a
six day week and up to 12 hours daily. The Charley
family acquired Seymour Hill facilities in 1822 and by
1837 employed c 40 men on bleaching activities there. At
the same time on the nearby Glenburn estate 28 men were
also engaged on the same work. More distant, to the
southeast, the Lambeg Bleaching, Dyeing and Finishing
works employed 28 to 34 persons between 1884 and 1886.
By 1907/8, however, this labour force had risen to 201
men and 33 women1 working a six day week at
daily pay rates of l0p to 20p or 2/- to 5/- for men but
6p to 7½p or 1/2d to
1/6d for women. To the west the McCance family
established themselves early in the linen trade at
Suffolk, adding their own bleach works later at Kilwee.
There 18 men and 9 women were employed in 1896, but 30
years later the Kilwee labour force had risen to 60.
Early in the 20th century
these enterprises had been joined within the village by
Barbour's spinning mill and the Milfort weaving factory.
And yet by 1960 in spite of this growth and
diversification there was only one remaining bleaching
plant in operation at Seymour Hill. There, Blackstaff
Spinning and Weaving Company first rented and then took
possession of what had been Charley's mill, with a
workforce of 60, to carry out bleaching, dyeing and
finishing processes. This occurred in spite of Charley's
having good business contacts in Ireland, Scotland and
England, as well as, in 1925, an annual wage bill of c
Barbour's mill closed in 1939 but was
then used for the wartime production of bakelite. Disuse
between 1945 and 1957 was followed by renewed use for
the Balmoral Bedding Company who employed 170 men and 30
women to make furniture, bedding and carpets. The
Milfort Weaving Company operated between 1907 and 1926
when another family based business (i.e. McKinney) took
over the plant to establish the Lilliput Laundry. By
1960 this enterprise employed 160 men and 50 women
(again of local origin).
Crawford's Print Works occupied
Hunter's works in 1873 and soon employed c 100 persons
producing linen and cotton goods. This production ceased
in 1930 but the property was next taken over by
Stewart's for the making and the finishing of clothing
until 19642. (Subsequently there has been a
subdivision of this property for its use by a variety of
small scale working units.)
Residents in the local area, unlike
those is some other towns and villages, were fortunate
in that Belfast and Lisburn were readily accessible as
alternative places to seek work when, after 1924,
adverse and fluctuating conditions really began to
damage local textile enterprises.
It is also relevant to remember that
the provincial unemployment rate between 1922 and 1928
averaged 19% whereas between 1934 and 1939 it had risen
to an average of approximately 20%. In the 1922-28
period there were over 2000 officially sponsored
Unemployment Relief Schemes affecting road and street
works, public utilities and agricultural holdings across
the province at a cost of c £2.7 million. Nearer to home
the 1937 Labour Exchange unemployment rate was 19.3% in
Belfast and 18.7% in Lisburn (compared with 3.6% in
Belfast and 5.7% in Lisburn 20 years later)4.
Both major outmigrations and minor inmigrations affected
the provincial population figures in the interwar years.
And in the Second World War some 60,000 job vacancies in
Britain were filled by workers from this province5.
Little wonder, therefore, that many of the older
generation in the Dunmurry area can recall the direct
and "knock on" effects of economic hardship, limited job
opportunities and simple life styles that were forced
upon them until the years following 19506.
During the 19th century
and the interwar years of the 20th century
the local labour force was used to long working days for
low wages. Indeed it was not until after World War II
that the Wages Council Act set better wages for male and
female employees at a time when the production and use
of synthetic fibres became increasingly important in the
province's textile industry. Even though successive
Governments introduced Acts to promote the
diversification, expansion and development of provincial
industry, the uptake locally was limited until after
19457. Between 1945 and 1964 Government
sponsored industry did attract nine new enterprises,
many of which were located on a designated Industrial
Estate, beside The Cutts in S.W. Dunmurry. In 1958, for
example, the Tellmit Gauges Company sought a location on
this Estate, for an initial workforce of 75. This same
year R.F.D. with a workforce of 160 and occupying
wartime buildings, sought to expand its operation in the
village. Again in 1960 Wandleside Warren Company, making
electrical equipment, was involved with leasing
arrangements for an advanced factory in the same Estate8.
Grundig began a lengthy association with this location
between 1960 and 1983, providing another source of local
employment in that period. But, as has already been
indicated, there has been a continuing willingness
amongst local people to innovate in the reuse of older,
disused industrial properties to maintain the presence
of small scale enterprises. They have also been prepared
to accept the inflow of new residents who, while not
necessarily working in the village scene, have enriched
the social fabric of the community in diverse ways.
In 1901 it is estimated that 46% of
the local population provided a labour force composed of
males and females. At that time 46% of this labour pool
was engaged in textile work. By 1961 it is suggested
that while 45% of the resident population provided the
labour force, considerable changes had occurred in its
work places. At this time the labour force in local
industry could have been equalled by persons engaged in
service activities to the community. It also seems
probable that a greater proportion of local people were
now travelling to work, away from their places of
residence, than ever before. Even so the services of the
baker, greengrocer, fishmonger, mineral water salesman
and coal merchant were still on offer at house doors
during the working week, in the village and surrounding
Functions in and about the village
Consideration has already been given elsewhere9
to the number of different activities within Dunmurry
during the 19th century, when primary
production associated with the land was to be surpassed
by secondary enterprises associated with linen
manufacture. A brief statement and summary diagram of
the number of different functions provided within the
village, between 1901 and 1961, can suggest some of the
changes that have occurred there (see Table 1).
By 1901 the village population
exceeded 1000 and the number of different functions
(i.e. the Functional Range) totalled 3010.
Because of duplications, however, there were 41 actual
outlets for these functions. In that year Dunmurry
possessed a Functional Range (F.R.) similar to that at
Carnlough which had a population of 592, whereas
Castlederg. Kilrea and Portstewart with comparable
populations to Dunmurry possessed F.R. values of 51, 56
and 30 respectively.
Dunmurry's F.R. had risen to 35 in
1916 whereas Ballycastle with the same population total
possessed a F.R. of 76. Some former functions had been
lost in the village but these were more than offset by
gains. Village clubs and associations had now been
established. Petty sessions were held monthly and
additional personal services were forthcoming. Milfort
weaving factory and Miss Gamble's "Ladies School" were
also in place.
Although Dunmurry's F.R. had risen to
only 39 by 1926 it now possessed most of the basic
functions and services to be found in other provincial
settlements of comparable size, i.e. church, school,
post office, grocer, pub or hotel, carpenter, draper,
tailor, butcher, newsagent, police, hardware shop,
doctor and chemist. Noteworthy additions by this date
included an Ulster Bank agency, confectioner, motor
garage, British Legion hall and Cooperative store.
(Source Belfast and Province of Ulster
- Approximate village population
- Village Functional Range (F.R.)
- Actual outlets available
- Institutional outlets (church,
school, police, post office, doctor,
nurse, registrar, dentist, chemist,
- Apparel outlets (draper, shoemaker,
shoe repairs, tailor, dressmaker,
- Food and drink outlets (butcher,
grocer, Cooperative store, confectioner,
tobacconist, greengrocer, dairy, baker,
- Housing and building (contractor,
carpenter, house agent, general store,
plumber, painter, electrician,
- Transportation and communications
(railway station, motor service point,
motor engineer, printer, newsagent)
- Industrial (linen thread, weaving,
bleaching, dye works, body shop, A.S.R.
equipment, laundry, industrial supplier)
- Recreational (Orange Hall, Catch My
Pal, British Legion, Golf Club, Youth
Club, playing fields)
- Other personal services (optician,
financial, insurance, coal, gardener,
hairdresser, solicitor, osteopath)
There were c 2100 villagers by 1933
when the F.R. stood at 35 as the result of more social
and economic changes. Dunmurry P.E. school had been
opened and Lilliput Laundry and dye works now functioned
in the former Milfort factory.
In 1946 when post World War II
recovery was beginning the village F.R. stood at 38.
Although the services of a contractor, greengrocer,
petrol filling station and ladies' fashion shop had been
added the functional outlet total remained at 49, as it
had done since 1926.
Village population exceeded 3000 in
1953 when the F.R. was 44 but the functional outlets had
multiplied to 81. The presence of an insurance agent,
estate agent, funeral furnisher, car service station and
bakery reflected the growth of more specialist services
and increased population numbers. Less than 10 years
later the F.R. amounted to 55 while the outlet total had
reached 98. The former Barbour mill was now used for
furniture making, the Ulster Transport Authority (U.T.A.)
body shop had become a fabrication plant for Air Sea
Rescue Equipment (R.F.D.) while Crawford's former
textile mill was in use by Stewarts clothing firm.
Welfare clinic services, car and tractor agencies, for
example, were other indications of the widening range of
The N.I. Housing Trust development at
Seymour Hill made early provision for some basic social
services to be available. Thus by 1959 five shops and
three churches were in place. In 1961 the service
provision included a baker, grocer, butcher, draper,
newsagent, confectioner and sub post office. Also near
at hand were a hotel, linen enterprise; doctor, Orange
Lodge hall, a primary school and another church.
Records provided in the Belfast and Province of Ulster
Directories11 indicate that some resident
traders carried on their business affairs
uninterruptedly for lengthy periods of time. Many of
these persons made their marks on various aspects of
social life hereabouts and their numbers are now worth
Between 1900 and 1926 some nine
individual traders each provided at least 10 years
interrupted service. These included a blacksmith,
tailor, grocer, carpenter, coal merchant, publican,
hardware dealer, shoemaker and dressmaker (see Table 2).
From 1926 until 1946 there were 18 traders providing at
least 10 years of continuous service. Newly included
were a builder, grocer/newsagent, stationer/ newsagent,
dressmaker, confectioner, chemist, greengrocer and motor
engineer. There were 10 traders providing at least 10
years uninterrupted service between 1946 and 1961.
Indeed upon inspection not less than 18 of these traders
had served for at least 20 years continuously between
1901 and 1961.
Many professionally qualified
residents have also served locally for periods of 10
years or more between 1900 and 1961. Their numbers
included six clergymen, i.e. Revs. R. Arnold, J. Kelly,
R. Davey, R. Ellis, J. McCleary and G. Ferguson.
Similarly involved were eight general practitioners,
i.e. Drs. G. Gaussen, R. Hunter, W. Colhoun, M. Colhoun,
J. White, E. White, C. Alexander and R. Johnston.
Amongst the 10 long serving school teachers were Messrs.
Marlow, Burns, Chesney, and Foster; Mrs. Hamilton; and
Misses Spence, Trainer, McFarlane, Gamble and Lewis.
The presence of large houses in their
own grounds across the district and the past
involvements of their occupants with the local community
have been noteworthy. Family names possessing lengthy
associations with these particular properties between
1900 and 1960 include Barbour (Conway), Charley (Seymour
Hill), Paul (Dunmurry House), Anderson (The Park),
Bunting (Larkfield), Dixon (Wilmont), Hall (Rosemount),
Bryson (Huntley) and McCance (Woodburn). Many of these
properties were either lost or changed their function in
the 20th century but they are worth recalling
as reminders of the way that change can soon eradicate
items with culturally significant associations in a
From these brief considerations and
remarks such as those recorded in "Dunmurry Reflections"12
by local people it seems that there was a stable
population base hereabouts in the recent past. This in
turn fostered a shared sense of continuity amongst local
people. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that
incomers to Seymour Hill and then Conway took several
years to settle down and then generate their collective
feeling of "togetherness" in their new housing estates.
The social fabric is a product of the combined effects
of relationships and shared experiences between
residents of a settlement or a district, over a period
of time. Expectations of life, personal interests,
interactions with neighbours and resources available for
non-basic activities serve either to enrich or stultify
the nature of this fabric. Directly and indirectly
religious and political affiliations, as well as
official agencies can also influence attitudes and the
activities associated with them. Hereabouts the
influences of the Church have tended to decline whereas
those of political affiliations and statutory agencies
have tended to increase as the 20th century
progressed. Like the individual and group awareness of
residents to the physical, built and social environments
to which they are exposed the social fabric has added
its share to the well marked "sense of place" that
pervaded Dunmurry in the first 70 years of the 20th
Before 1910 an indication of active
group interest was shown locally by the establishment of
a golf club in 1905 and the building of an Orange Hall
in 1908. By the end of World War I collective public
interest was expressed over the state of Main Street
(Kingsway) and its traffic, the dangerous railway
crossing to Church Road (Ashley Park) and the felt need
for proper street lighting. Late in 1922, J. Milne
Barbour offered land for a small public park in the
village, an individual gesture soon to be officially
accepted and named after the donor. By the mid 1920s
Dunmurry residents were again expressing shared
dissatisfactions over the incidence of water borne
diseases, unsatisfactory sanitary conditions and
careless disposal of household refuse, complaints
readily endorsed by the local Dispensary Committee. And
before this decade ended a thriving village football
club was established, proposals for a Mission Hall
accepted and a flute band actively present.
The village population exceeded 2000
by 1930 and in spite of, or maybe because of, poor
economic conditions the range of shared social
activities multiplied. As a result of felt needs a long
to be used Scout and Guides hut appeared, in contrast to
a short lived village Quoiting Club. Official
permission. by licence, was given for Trinity Hall to be
used for entertainment purposes in 1936 and shortly
afterwards it was also granted to the Orange Hall and
then to St. Colman's Hall. Public awareness by now had
directed attention to the need for the services of a
Fire Brigade. This prudent request was soon to be
satisfied by arrangements with Belfast Corporation.
With 1938 came new unifying
challenges involving Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.) and
Civil Defence (C.D.), in the face of a common, external
threat. A year later there were six A.R.P. posts, two
First Aid parties, one Rescue party, one Decontamination
crew and two Auxiliary Fire patrols in the local area.
Space in Trinity Hall, Dunmurry House, the Orange Hall
and Lilliput Laundry was soon pressed into war service,
just as extra space was next found in Dunmurry House for
the local Women's Voluntary Service (W.V.S.).
German air raids on Belfast in the
spring of 1941 produced an inflow of refugees into the
village and the use of Dunmurry and Finaghy P.E. schools
as Rest Centres from mid April until late May. One
consequence of these unfortunate experiences was the
decision to erect A.R.P. shelters in the district. The
village was also declared to be part of a Neutral Area
reserved for the future billeting of homeless,
non-priority persons as the result of further air raid
damages. Not surprisingly, St. Colman's church hall, in
use as a Control Centre, also came to be considered as a
communal feeding centre for meals to be charged at rates
similar to those in the Belfast British Restaurants
sponsored by the Government to provide basic meals at
Moves to wind down A.R.P. and C.D.
arrangements came in 1945 as residents began to adjust
themselves to continuing austerity and the fact that
future physical developments in the district would
involve Antrim County Council as well as Lisburn Rural
District Council. By now the District Nursing Society.
which began in the late 19th century was
inadequate to meet maternity and child welfare needs.
New proposals were forthcoming and included the building
of a nurses' home and clinic on land gifted by J. Milne
Barbour, along with the establishment of a dedicated
working committee that included local residents.
The pressing need for temporary
housing resulted in vacated Army Nissen huts at Ballybog
being converted into three bedroom and two bedroom
houses in 1947. Residents in both Dunmurry and Finaghy
were now pressing for public playing fields at this
time. When Fullerton Park was officially opened in 1950.
at Dunmurry, applications to use its facilities had
already been received from the Church Lads Brigade, the
Boys Brigade, Dunmurry Boys Club, two local football
clubs, a tennis club and a hockey club.
During the 1950-60 decade, when the
village population exceeded 3000, a succession of
sectional interests demonstrated their presence and
intents once more. A Ratepayers Association of 60
members was formed in 1953 and immediately sought
improvements to the state of the Glen burn, roads and
footpaths in parts of the village, along with better
traffic control and more street lighting. In the same
year a Senior Citizens Club looked for a site and also
support for their own clubhouse in the village. Within
six months these objectives had been achieved and their
Maxwell Hall was aptly named after an important local
supporter of this initiative. (It was to serve its
purpose well, before its untimely removal in recent
In 1901 the population in Dunmurry
townland was predominantly Protestant by religious
persuasion, with the greatest number of them residing in
the village. Most Roman Catholics dwelt in the western
part of the townland. By 1961 noteworthy increases of
Roman Catholic residents had occurred in and near
Suffolk, as well as at Dunmurry, Seymour Hill and
Killeaton. Over the same period the structure of the
local population had also changed, bringing with it a
transformation from a small upper class and large
working class to one in which a sizeable middle class
gradually emerged13. Not surprisingly a
number of distinctive neighbourhoods came to be
recognized in the properties of the mature and older
parts of the village14. On the other hand it
is interesting that in spite of the rising number of
motor vehicles using the Al through route along Kingsway
this street has remained the preferred linear location
for business, trade and institutional affairs in the
To this point the influence of local and external
factors upon developments had, for the most part, been
peaceful. Wartime service in the Forces by some
residents did, unfortunately, have sad consequences for
their families and friends. After 1960 the patterns of
social life were to change locally, for both predictable
and unpredictable reasons, as the century progressed.
Change and Continuity
- D/1770/4/10 Lambeg's wage books 1907-08.
- Common R. Water and Society in Ulster.
Northern Geographical Essays. House J.
(edit) University of Newcastle 1967.
- Ulster Yearbook 1938. H.M.S.O.
- COM63/1/479 and COM63/1/174 in P.R.O.N.I.
- Ulster Yearbook 1947. H.M.S.O.
- Neill D. Social Services in British
Association Handbook. Belfast 1952.
- Isles K. and Cuthbert N. An economic
survey of Northern Ireland. H.M.S.O. Belfast
1957. Sections concerned with manufacturing,
linen and distribution of industry provide
- Lisburn Herald 1958 carried
observations on R.F.D., Wandleside and Tellmit.
- Common R. Some Observations on Dunmurry's
Past. Regency Press. Belfast 1999.
- McManus M. The Functions of Small Ulster
Settlements in 1854, 1899 and 1916. Ulster
Folklife (39) 1993. Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra,
- Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory.
Belfast Newsletter Ltd. Belfast.
- Dunmurry Reflections compiled by Hall
M. (Island Publications) Regency Press. Belfast
- Belfast Urban Plan, Main Report p124.
Building Design Partnership. Belfast 1964.
- Elliot A. Dunmurry - a former mill village
near Belfast. B.Sc. thesis Geography Department
As a professional geographer,
resident in Dunmurry since 1960, I am well aware of the
planned and unplanned developments that have occurred
locally between 1960 and 2000. Some indication of these
events is provided from the following:
- Northern Ireland from the Air. Common
R. (edit) Queens University Belfast 1964.
Locally relevant information is provided in
chapters on "The Settlements" and "The Future".
- Northern Geographical Essays. House
J. (edit) University of Newcastle 1967.
Information on Dunmurry is available in my
chapter on "Water and Society in Ulster".
- Common R. Irish Troubles. Town and
Country Planning 1970. Concerns are expressed
about the need for proper public consultations
over planning projects.
- Common R. The 1970 Glenburn floods and
their implications. Irish Geography 1971.
These problems resulted in a chapter in my
Geography Department Research Paper No. I
produced at Queens University 1977. (Flood
protection work followed later.)
- Common R. A community under siege
1970-1977. Renewal Design and Print. Lisburn
1980. The terrorist campaign and civil disorder
within a one mile radius of Dunmurry Post Office
were the concern of this publication.
- Common R. The Borderlands of Belfast in
1981. Church of Ireland Gazette. Lisburn
March 1981. A wider survey of the troubled
conditions in and about Belfast.
- With the assistance of M. McAnespie three
short papers were privately produced and copies
delivered to selected recipients: 1994. An
analysis and assessment of the state of the
built and semi-natural environment about
1995. Recreation and amenity land about Dunmurry
1996. A proposal for a dedicated cycle linkage
on the linear parkland of Dunmurry.
Rocks of the Silurian period were laid down
between 430 and 440 million years ago, in the
The Tertiary era occurred between two to 70
million years ago.
Bronze, Neolithic and Iron Ages
Archaeologists estimate that Neolithic
farming settlers lived here 4000 to 5500 years
ago. They were succeeded by folks of the Bronze
Age 3000 to 4000 years ago who were succeeded by
folks of the Iron Age 1650 to 2100 years ago.
Anglo Norman Period and
The Anglo Norman period in Ireland ran from
1 150 to 1550 A.D. to be followed by the
Plantations between 1550 and 1700 A.D. Both
periods were associated with the influx of
people and varying degrees of political and
A world wide economic slump began in 1929.
Recovery in the early 1930s occurred sooner and
more effectively in Great Britain than it did in