Lisburn Miscellany

Published 1976

Lisburn Historical Society


by Fred Kee



This book is dedicated to my dear wife, Ada



I am deeply indebted to the members of the Lisburn Historical Society for the publishing of this book, especially to Trevor Neill. The chairman, and the committee; Harold Duff and Valerie Harkness, who proof read my articles; John Chapman and the Historical Society for the illustrations. I am particularly grateful to Judy Cinnamond for the illustration on the cover.

  To the staff of the Public Record Office, where I spent many happy hours gathering information, and to all those worthy citizens of Lisburn who contributed knowingly or unknowingly b the contents of this book, I say "Thank you."
Fredrick Kee 

Printed by William Sweeny, Reid & Company Limited
and published by the Lisburn Historical Society




Articles Written by Fred Kee and published in the "Ulster Star"
Old Courts and Alleys of Lisburn:

Do You Know Your Own Town?
Bridge Street of Bygone Days
Bow Lane-Now Busy Bow Street      
The Fairyland at Chapel Hill 
The Towns Truly Rural Longstone
Aristocratic Castle Street                
The Heart of the Borough     
Oldest Fireplace in the Town       
A "Working-Class" Street        
Street Names of a Bygone Age     
Help for the Widows from the Canon
Burial Ground in the District      
The Town's Old Schools
Market Days                  
A Look into Lisburn's Water Resources
More Thoughts on the Water Supplies
Lisburn Gasworks-Gone but Not Forgotten
Lisburn's Workhouse is Not Forgotten
Assassination of a Five-Year-Old
The Thompson Home
The Thompson House
Headstone at Grave of William Thompson,
M.A., 1883

28th February 1970   
13th March 1970   
4th April 1970 
18th April 1970   
23rd May 1970   
20th June 1970
4th July 1970   
1st August 1970   
15th August 1970   
10th October 1970
17th October 1970   
5th December 1970   
13th January 1970   
27th February 1971   
29th May 1971           
19th February 1972
28th April 1973   
26th July 1974 
13th September 1974
17th April 1974   

17th April 1974













IN the following articles, written about the Lisburn area and published in "The Ulster Star" at various times, I have derived most of the material from my own experience as the Public Health Inspector under the Antrim County Council and the Lisburn Rural Council, but principally from my work for the Lisburn Urban Council. I was Inspector from 1928 until 1982 and saw the old courts, lanes and entries gradually disappear, the occupiers dispersed to new developing areas and the old homes crumble into heaps of bricks and rubble.

  My job was to recommend to the Councils that these slum dwellings should be taken down and that new housing be provided. It was not until approximately 1960 that demolition commenced. Are the people any happier in their new homes? I don't know; at any rate, they are healthier. Here's a little story to illustrate the complexity of the situation:

  When Barnsley's Row was a street of empty derelict houses about 1970, with gaping holes for the windows and doors, and rubbish of all sorts littering the inside of the houses, which had become a danger, I was having a last look down the row one fine Saturday morning. As I came out of one of the houses a young woman was standing on the road. "Excuse me; aren't you Mr. Kee?" "Yes," I said. "My mother knew you very well; that's our house you were in:" She told me her mothers name, and I had been in and out of the house often. Then she says, "Mr. Kee, there's a horse-shoe in the back wall above the yard door; would you see if it is still there." "Sure." I went in again and there was the horse-shoe nailed to the outside of the wall. I told her it was there. "World you please get it for my mother, she would like it as she had always good luck while she lived in that house." I got the horse-shoe and she put it in her handbag, gave me a big smile said "Thanks very much," and went off, giving me a wave of her hand as she turned the comer. It makes you think!

  Lisburn at 1928 was a small, compact town, with a population of approximately twelve thousand persons. It was still growing but slowly, and it was not until about 1950 that the building of houses really commenced. One of my first assignments as, Sanitary Inspector was the abolition of 1,000 dry `privies;' and the provision of W.C.s, which gives you some idea of the large number of primitive dwellings in the town. The Town Hall was in Castle Street, and the staff was as follows:-Town Clerk, T. M. Wilson; Assistant Clerk, T. H. Macdonald; Clerk, George McGow; Town Surveyor, R. E. L. Clarke; Clerk, James Hasley; Yard Foreman, S. Leckey; Medical Officer of Health, Dr. D. C. Campbell; Health Visitor, Miss McClelland; Sanitary Inspector, Frederick Kee; Water Inspector, John Haire; Gas Works Manager, A. S. Brook; Assistant, Walter Tyler; Veterinary Inspector, Frank Russell; Town Solicitor, John T. McConnell; Clerk of Markets, Robert McCreight; Weighmaster, Ed. McNeice; Rate Collector, Thomas Waring; Sewage Works Foreman, David Robinson; Captain of Fire Brigade, Wm. Megran.

  The domestic scavenging system was carried out by the Council. and James McDowell, of New Street, off Millbrook, supplied the horses, drivers and carts. If you wanted your bin emptied you paid sixpence and got a receipt. If you had a "privy" and ashpit you paid one shilling and sixpence, and, of course, the pits were full to overflowing, so that the owner got his money's worth. It was a filthy job, but no one seemed to mind, it brought you a week's wages.

  Shortly after, in August, 1928, I recommended that the bin charge be reduced to threepence, and the Council agreed. Eventually, the Council decided to get a motor-vehicle and a Shelvoke & Drury freighter was purchased and was the first mechanical vehicle to be used for domestic scavenging in Lisburn. The day of the horse and cart was over. The collecting of refuse also soon became a charge on the rates, although the Councilors resisted this very strongly, as it would raise the rates by about threepence, a little over the present one new penny. Keeping down the rates was the object every Councilor placed first in his priorities. No wonder progress was slow. From James McDowell's horses and carts to the great vehicles you see now has been a long haul. What next? The Income Tax office is on the site of the tipping ground at Hillsborough Road.

  The Sewage Treatment Works was at New Holland, Hilden. Its name was derived from the Huguenots who came from Holland. The system was settlement tanks and then land filtration, and finally the Lagan. A bit smelly!

  The water supply was from Boomer's Reservoir, and it was usual to turn the water off at night during a dry summer.