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Family History Society ready to begin new season in historic building

The Digger looks forward to the forthcoming programme of events

A postcard dated August 16 1916 depicting Railway Street, Lisburn. The Temperance Institute building, now known as The Bridge Community centre, appears in the centre of the picture.
A postcard dated August 16 1916 depicting Railway Street, Lisburn. The Temperance Institute building, now known as The Bridge Community centre, appears in the centre of the picture.

1T'S that time of the year when part of the conversation with friends and acquaintances will inevitably include the phrase "the nights are drawing in again."

During September many families reintroduce themselves back to the daily routines of school, organisations and other activities. Some of us in the older age group may well will take up a new challenge and return to the schoolroom for various educational and recreational activities. For those with a few hours to spare and an interest in family and local history I can recommend a visit to the monthly meeting of the Lisburn Branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society. The Branch was formed in 1982 and is one of the twelve in Northern Ireland. It meets in the historic building at The Bridge Community Centre in Railway Street, Lisburn, formerly known as The Temperance Institute.

In January 1889 a list of persons who promised subscriptions for the Temperance Institute appeared in the local press. Amongst those subscribing were James N. Richardson (£300), Rev Joseph A. Stewart and Messrs. William Barbour & Sons (£250 each), James A. Stewart, James Theodore Richardson, Arthur Pim and J.G. Richardson (£100 each).

The foundation stone for this building was laid on June 24 1889 by Mrs. J.D. Barbour and it opened the following year. The building was to be the focal point for many local organisations.

The Lisburn Branch of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals held their first meeting there in May 1925. and one of the first netball matches held in Lisburn was played in the gymnasium between the Cathedral C.L.B. and the Methodist B.B. in March 1936.

In January 1951, the popular Temperance Institute Café reopened after a modernisation of the kitchens and complete redecoration. There are many people in the district who hold memories of events and activities in this building.

I attended several of the meetings of the local family history society earlier this year and was most impressed by the speakers and range of topics under discussion.

At the March meeting members and visitors attended a presentation on Ordnance Survey that encompassed the history of OS and gave an insight into how archives there could assist the family history researcher. At the April meeting those present were enthralled by the talk by Roger Dixon titled "Old Houses and their families."

Arthur Chapman gave a most interesting lecture on The Quakers" at the May meeting. He invited members to visit Friend's School, Lisburn where an archive of the school records going back to the mid 1600's has been established. A card index for pupils dates from 1794. He extended an invitation for members to visit any Thursday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm during school term.

One particularly useful research facility, restricted to branch and associate members, is the Society's Library and Headquarters at 45 Park Avenue, Belfast. The Society holds a wealth of material relevant to those involved in family history research, including unique material not available elsewhere.

The Lisburn Branch Programme for the forthcoming nine months has been released and meetings commence on September 8 at 7.30pm. Gillian Hunt, Ulster Scots Heritage is due to give a talk titled "Introduction to Family History It will be of particular interest to both the new and inexperienced who are intending to or are already delving into family history.

New members have also a chance to speak with those who are considerably more experienced in the field of family history research. I have found that members are always most helpful and are keen to assist.

Membership details and the society's programme of forthcoming events are available via the website Family history research is not a smooth path and many inevitably stumble along the way. For those members who are at "breaking point" the Lisburn family history website has a section titled "Help Needed" where members can post messages seeking help with various aspects of research.

The meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month (September to May) commencing at 7.30pm. New members and visitors are always welcome.

The Digger can be contacted via The Ulster Star or by email: