Wednesday, 28 November 2012

An interesting neighbourhood

It is common to characterise a residential area by the type of people commonly found there. We refer to the stockbroker belt or a battlers' suburb conveniently ignoring the fact that there may be a wide diversity of people in those communities.

In the course of confirming the residence of Robert and Eliza Jane McALLISTER on Howard Street South, I examined the 1901 edition of the The Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory. This listed their near neighbours as follows:

  • 79. Holmes, Alex., plumber
  • 81. Walker, Wm., linen lapper
  • 83. Standhaft, P., professor of music
  • 85. Ferguson, G., carpenter
  • 87. Greer, A., brass founder
  • 89. King, Mrs.
  • 91. McKee, Mrs.
  • 93. Welch, David, seaman
  • 95. Stockman, S., linen lapper
  • 97. McAllister, R., linen lapper
  • 99. Lindsay, J., phrenologist
  • 101. Davidson, W., hackle maker
  • 80. Hutchinson, J., sail maker
  • 82. Lightbody, W., boot maker
  • 84. Russell, Wm., hide broker
  • 86. McCloy, D., caulker
  • 88. Clark, D., car driver
  • 90. Maginnis, Ed., labourer
  • 92. Thompson, Mrs.
  • 94. Henderson, A., labourer
  • 96. Welch, Chas., carpenter
  • 98. Bell, Jas., winding master
  • 100. Vacant

Some features of the list were not surprising. Two other men in the street also worked as linen lappers. The mill was probably within walking distance of their homes. James Bell from number 98 almost certainly worked at the same place. A winding master was responsible for securing the thread on the spindles before they were fitted to the loom.

Mr Davidson (at number 101) was not engaged in the manufacture of feather decorations for the bonnets of Highland warriors. The hackles that he made were combs used for separating the threads of flax at the beginning of processing.

Most of the rest of those on the list were employed in recognisable trades or as labourers; with the notable exception of Messrs Standhaft and Lindsay.

I have found no other reference to the Professor of Music at number 83. Although he is listed in the Directory, by the night of the Census there was someone else living in that house. Where did he go? Was he actually working as a musician or a teacher of music?

John Linday, the phrenologist, was aged 74 and living alone at the time of the Census although he described himself as "married". It is fascinating to speculate on what conversations he may have held with his neighbours, and on how they might have regarded him.

Taken together, they certainly made this neighbourhood hard to stereotype.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...