Leafing through the past at Ballymacash - Ulster Star way

WITH the internet and all other facets of modern technology you never really know where your photo or details may turn up these days.

There is a plethora of material now online, including up-to-date images and those which have been taken from older sources including newspapers. Stories and pictures from the past are now appearing online preserving them for future generations.

I was searching through old copies of the Ulster Star recently looking for material relating to the north Lisburn area between the years 1960-1970. I managed to locate in excess of one thousand items relating to the area. Births, deaths and marriages pertaining to the people of that area were only a small part of every-day events which had been captured in print.

Thanks to the detail of the reporting we can now chart the development of the area in both word and picture.

The builder Isaac Lyons was in the process of selling his newly built “superior semi-villas” at Beechdene Drive in 1960. At that time other semi-detached villas on the Ballymacash Road were being built by Mayers & Shannon and were on sale for £1825. Haven’t times changed?

I became confused recently when I was talking to a former Ballymacash resident and she was relating to people and places on what she referred to as “the Antrim Road.” It took me some time to figure out that she was in fact talking about the Ballymacash Road.

Her ancestors and their neighbours would not have referred to the road only as the Antrim Road. She had been brought up in the area in an era when there were very few homesteads on either the Antrim or Ballymacash roads.

The area continues to expand and some former homes and buildings have been redeveloped to make way for more housing. Laurel Grove now occupies the grounds of the old Killowen Hospital, Old Church Place stands on the site of the former Free Presbyterian Church and there is now a development of housing called Weaver’s Mews.

I did note however that a number of houses on the Ballymacash Road had house-names displayed alongside house numbers. Rosedene, Braemar, Shimna, Cherry Lodge and Brackenhill were some of those that I noted. The names Beechwood and Shangara also appear on properties along the roadside.

Looking back through the property sections of the Ulster Star we find that Beechwood was up for sale in May 1969 and September 1971. Shangara, described in 1966 as a semi detached rural villa was also for sale.

Many other homes with housenames on the Ballymacash Road changed hands during the 1960/1970 period. Ashville, Fairlea,Heraldine, Kantara, Laurelbank, Lingula, Marmont, Mourne View, The Croft, White Cottage and Wilmount were some of the names that appeared for sale during that period.

During the early 1970 period vesting of land took place to allow further development of the area, the building of schools and the widening of roads. There were a number of protests and petitions reported, but progress was unhindered.

Protests and petitions were also raised from another group of residents in the mid 1960’s. They complained about the noise of dance bands that were regularly appearing in the Pond Park Hall. In 1965 it was reported that 64 people had signed a petition and protested against the use of the hall in this manner as it caused a number of problems including damage to property, indiscriminate parking, indecent behaviour and noise pollution.

The debate was still in the headlines in 1971 and the council was still receiving complaints. The police took the complaints seriously and in March 1971 eight motorists ended up with a conditional discharge for 12 months when prosecuted for illegal parking.

The dances at the hall attracted those from near and far. Showbands appearing there included The Hilton, the Avengers, Jimmy Johnston, Broadway, the Cherokees, Flamingoes, the Graduates and the Majestic.

On the 12th of October 1964, 32 year old international sensation Little Richard made an appearance at the ballroom. Several weeks later, at a Halloween ball held in the hall on the 31st October, the famous Julie Rogers appeared just after she had a massive hit with her song “The Wedding.” She appeared again in the Pond Park Hall in April 1966.

The Troggs, who had a number of hits in the pop-charts in the 1960’s, also visited the hall in May 1969.

You just never know who has passed through your area in former times.

Extracts from the Ulster Star (1960 - 1980) relating to the north Lisburn area will be on display for perusal at St. Mark’s Flower festival and historical exhibition, St. Mark’s Church, Ballymacash Road, Lisburn during the weekend Friday 7th October to Sunday 9th October 2011.

I would welcome anyone with memories to share, photographs or autographs of those who appeared in the Pond Park Hall to get in touch.

The Digger can be contacted via The Ulster Star Office or by email - [email protected]