Matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs...

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Where: N Ireland, Belfast, UK

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When: 01 January 1907

Try to find the date or year when this image was made.
At first sight this image of York Street in Belfast looked like a painting from the English artist L S Lowry, with matchstalk men and women on a busy street. The two “boys” in the middle of the street in particular looked the part, but the wonders of MegaZoom bring the whole thing to life. What are the “boys” doing out there, and what more can we find out about the scene?

Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: Circa 1865-1914 1906-1908

NLI Ref: L_CAB_02410

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 6224
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio thelawrencephotographcollection glassnegative nationallibraryofireland yorkstreet belfast ulster northernireland trams carts junction antrim ireland béalfeirste aontroim cúigeuladh

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  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 06/Apr/2021 07:52:39

    You wait days, weeks for a clock - and then THREE turn up together! 🕦

  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 06/Apr/2021 07:58:03

    Five minutes earlier - catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000325930

  • profile

    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 06/Apr/2021 08:02:16

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia I will have to talk to the powers that be to ascertain if you can count two visible faces of a multifaceted clock as two clocks rather than one clock?

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 08:11:14

    Previously, on NLIVision: Hair Cut for thruppence

  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 06/Apr/2021 08:13:00

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland Perhaps if the two faces are showing different times as here? I think because of parallax error (?).

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 08:14:44

    Electric trams means 1906 onwards.

  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 06/Apr/2021 08:17:45

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley I bet that "Hair Cut" photo is the same day, nearly twenty minutes later.

  • profile

    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 06/Apr/2021 08:29:57

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia Parallax errors have always left me feeling perplexed.

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 09:14:05

    Haircut one has a couple of visible posters: BUDGET , maybe A TOUGH ... and IRELAND something WITH BAT AND BALL blah blah LANCASHIRE'S something RED LETTER The second one sounds like an Ireland 11 playing Lancashire at cricket?

  • profile

    philipgmayer

    • 06/Apr/2021 09:23:19

    L. S. Lowry was the Manchester painter I think you're referring to. www.christies.com/features/10-things-to-know-about-LS-Low...

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 09:27:37

    Gibraltar Clock News (not Chalet de nécessité news) Belfast News-Letter - Friday 20 July 1894:

    A PUBLIC CONVENIENCE - We notice that the genial and popular proprietor of "The Gibraltar," York Street and Brougham Street, Mr. R. J. Smyth, has not only largely enhanced the appearance of "The Gibraltar," but has done a public good. He has erected a very large and handsome three-faced clock over the front door in York Street, and it is so placed that the public in Brougham Street and coming from either end of York Street can see the time. The clock is made by the eminent firm of GIBSON & CO., LIMITED of Donegal Place, and reflects credit on them.

  • profile

    O Mac

    • 06/Apr/2021 09:33:05

    Changed beyond all recognition..not a building left standing. 160 York St maps.app.goo.gl/pwCzhsMnnjKTjiAM8

  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 06/Apr/2021 09:54:04

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] "Take Off You Clothes, We Need To Talk" - 90 degrees to the right of your streetview! goo.gl/maps/Dvn6vxcDYaUAPod48

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 09:55:40

    More on the Gibraltar Bar. A peek inside when it was sold in 1911 - Irish News and Belfast Morning News - Tuesday 22 August 1911: Irish News and Belfast Morning News - Tuesday 22 August 1911 and: Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 19 July 1906: Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 19 July 1906

  • profile

    O Mac

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:03:02

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/ Stick to counting clocks. ..two faced.

  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:06:08

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnspooner Anything yet on 'The Elephant Tea Rooms House' ?

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:10:39

    Other goings on at the Gibraltar Bar:

    - March 1912 - a daring robbery. A safe containing between £20 and £30 in silver and 20s in gold was taken. ( Belfast News-Letter - Monday 18 March 1912) - October 1912 - Shooting. Robert Patterson shot and wounded John Hosie at the Gibraltar Bar on 5th October ( Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 12 October 1912) - December 1916 - Fire. A prompt response from the HQ in Chichester Street and substations in Whitla Street and Shankill Road meant the fire was extinguished before spreading beyond a store room (Belfast News-Letter - Tuesday 26 December 1916)

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:21:49

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia Only that there was an Elephant Tea House in Newry (26 Hill Street), and an obituary in 1911 of Mr Thos M'Erval, which says he was "apprenticed at the old and well-known Elephant Tea House of William Gilmore, High Street, Belfast". He was born in 1839, so that would put his apprenticeship in the 1850s. And High Street is nowhere near York Street. So in short, no.

  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:23:42

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnspooner/] Truncated ?! Via Trove, in 1902, Peter O'Rorke, a fishmonger at 149 York Street came into an enormous £ 7,000,000 fortune - trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/226970170?searchTerm=y...

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:32:58

    In November 1983 The Belfast Telegraph advertised "an ideal Christmas present" - mounted views of Belfast from the turn of the century, "Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland from their famous Lawrence collection." One of the six photos in the set is of "York Street showing the Station and the Elephant Tea House". £4.99 to £7.99 depending on size.

  • profile

    Foxglove

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:40:25

    1972 owner of the Gibraltar bar (Gerry Woods) was killed during a UVF attack, according to McKittrick et al "Lost Lives" (item #232) was the first of a long series of sectarian murders in North Belfast

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:50:04

    www.lennonwylie.co.uk/alphanames1908ab.htm lists Charles Barr & Co at the Elephant Tea House, 172 York Street. In May 1907 Charles Barr of 172 York St was granted £4 10s 2d compensation for criminal injuries (damage to plate glass) In 1918 Charle Barr of 172 York St was fined 10s for "having on 31st December exposed lard for sale at a price exceeding that officially fixed." Don't expose your lard! He's still there as "grocer, York Street" (as a witness in a court case) in 1927, and 1938 (wedding announcement of his daughter).

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 10:59:27

    Tram 86 has an ad for Andrew's Liver Salt, wikipedia says Andrews Liver Salts was first sold from 1894... The trademark "Andrews Liver Salt" was registered in 1909. Not much help, but it reminds me of the old ad: picture of a sad man Bottom fallen out of your world? Take Andrews, and the world will fall out of your bottom!

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 11:02:34

    Inglis' Bread ad no help, business started in 1871 and was huge from 1882. Van Houtens cocao hopeless too.

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 11:19:07

    A search of the Irish Times archive of 1906-1915 for Ireland Lancashire Cricket Belfast gets a few hits in 1908, 1909 and 1911.

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 11:47:11

    On the Haircut shot, beside the pawnbroker is Taggart. 1907 street directory gives Mrs. Taggart, confectioner, at #285, next door to W. Mayben, pawnbroker. Both there in 1908, 1912 too. Taggart is gone in 1918 census, no help with date range. In the distance there is a low building outside the station, called ...E STAND, which I though might be a taxi rank office. But lennon-wylie says: Coffee Stand - S. P. Kerr, proprietor Northern Counties Committee of Midland Railway Locomotive Department Dining Rooms?

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 12:05:27

    EAS_0411 in the archive is a closer view of the station. The Coffee Stand sign is there in full.

  • profile

    suckindeesel

    • 06/Apr/2021 12:23:53

    Front of tram carries an ad for Milkmaid Milk, still sold today by Nestle, late 19th century www.nestle.co.nz/media/pressreleases/allpressreleases/con...

  • profile

    suckindeesel

    • 06/Apr/2021 12:33:51

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley Something going on with tram 144, is he changing over the trolley wire for a different line?

  • profile

    Foxglove

    • 06/Apr/2021 12:55:19

    yes I have been looking at this too, both appear to be in a "uniform"; one appears to have a stick in the rail and the other is either pulling on a cable or has raised a stick into the air. I can remember as a child the trolley buses ( not a tram) would sometimes loose connection between the bus and overhead cables so the conductor would remove a long wooden pole from the side of the bus and reconnect the overhead "working" with the electric cables. Here, they could be working to ensure that the 144 stats connected to the electric feed ????.

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 12:57:31

    L_CAB_01254 is an earlier shot, with horse trams.

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Apr/2021 13:06:39

    STP_0377 is early, too, being an STP. No iron railings, so earlier than 01254.

  • profile

    suckindeesel

    • 06/Apr/2021 17:00:13

    The tram carries an ad for Hughes Bread on the side. Bernard Hughes was a Belfast baker who, during the famine years, invented a cheap nutritious bap, called the Belfast Bap. It included peas in its ingredients which could lead to a touch of wind, resulting in a street rhyme: “ Barney Hughes's bread, Sticks to your belly like lead, Not a bit of wonder, You fart like thunder, Barney Hughes's Bread!”

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 17:06:30

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley The Irish Temperance League had 24 coffee stands (whether in Belfast or wider area isn't clear). Anyway, on 15th November 1906, proprietors of 24 coffee stands were entertained to tea by the directors. The vice-president of the executive was a Mr S. P. Kerr. At a conference of the Irish Temperance League in January 1909 he's Mr S. P. Kerr J.P. In April 1898 he had spoken at a Temperance Conference in Dundee The Scotsman - Saturday 08 January 1910

    Mr. S. P. Kerr, the Radical candidate for North Fermanagh, is vice-chairman of the Irish Temperance League. He has during the greater part of a long and strenuous career worked and spoken strongly in favour of temperance, so strongly, in fact, that on more than one occasion the licensed trade has brought pressure to bear upon the railway company in whose service he was to have him muzzled on the subject.
    His opponent the incumbent Mr Fetherstonhaugh was pro-temperance anyway, and the Temperance League disowned Mr Kerr for standing against him.

  • profile

    Foxglove

    • 06/Apr/2021 17:18:41

    many thanks to Such Diesel, I knew the rhyme but never understood the farting connection - just thought it was another bit of Belfast humour

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 18:04:29

    The Coffee Stand at York Street Terminus was opened in August 1880. The object was "to provide wholesome and cheap refreshments, and a comfortable and pleasing room to partake of same". It was capable of holding about 20* comfortably. Among those present at the opening was S. P. Kerr. Coffee was advertised at 1d per cup. *or 30 depending on which paper you read.

  • profile

    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 06/Apr/2021 18:21:39

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnspooner https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] https://www.flickr.com/photos/foxglove https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Fantastic work today, thank you all for your comments. My pennies worth - I think the two lads were there to switch the tracks to the requirement of the passing trams?

  • profile

    Foxglove

    • 06/Apr/2021 19:10:39

    thanks NLI Flickr volunteers

  • profile

    suckindeesel

    • 06/Apr/2021 20:22:36

    Looks like the NCC Rly Hotel, adjacent to station on left, in the right background, via mickeyashworth https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9602589486/in/photolist-fCxMiG-21ZvYw7-iNTVkr-23j6afj And all that now remains of the station, via Milepost98 https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjyrailphotos/11688754003/in/photolist-fCxMiG-23j6afj-21ZvYw7-iNTVkr The York Rd works, with chimney, behind the station/hotel still exists. This is where two of the Enterprise trains is stabled each night.

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 06/Apr/2021 20:45:34

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland] Like this woman changing points in Munich c 1900 There are mentions of "points-boys" in the Belfast press, inclucing reporting hospital admissions after being hit by trams. Also a letter from a passenger whose tram had taken a wrong turn, possibly the fault of the points-boy, "who no doubt was engrossed in the pages of a 'Penny Dreadful'". In February 1908 there was a proposal to get rid of point boys, which seemed to win general approval. The new electric point-switching apparatus had been installed at 12 out of 30 sites by September 1908. Mr Bloxham said the rest of the system would soon be converted "which would enable them to do away entirely with the point-boys". References to point-boys pretty much dry up after 1908.

  • profile

    suckindeesel

    • 06/Apr/2021 22:17:02

    That Munich picture looks exactly like what's going on in ours. There are three people involved in this procedure, two on the ground and one onboard (driver motorman) So the third person is one of those "point boys", making this pre 1908. This would narrow date range considerably to 1906 - 1908 It is, of course, to do with changing points to select a different route. The trolley wire would end before each set of points, requiring the conductor to pull down and swivel the pole to connect with the next section of overhead, I think. No. 144 is displaying destination Antrim Rd and Chichester Pk, an intermediate stop. So likely route is Castle Junction to Antrim Road via Duncairn Gardens, which included Chichester Pk, Brougham St (Gibraltar Bar) and the York Rd. station.

  • profile

    an poc

    • 06/Apr/2021 22:32:42

    This documentary might be of interest - tomorrow (Wednesday) on TG4. Andy Kelly salvaged images from the the Poole studio. www.wlrfm.com/2021/03/26/documentary-on-waterford-archivi...

  • profile

    suckindeesel

    • 06/Apr/2021 22:34:23

    There was a young man who said, "Damn At last I perceive that I am But a creature that moves In predestinate grooves: I'm not even a bus – but a tram!" Undaunted, he added, "O cuss! The situation grows steadily wuss: I'll go on my way, Whatever they say, For I won't be a tram – I'm a bus!" Anonymous

  • profile

    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 07/Apr/2021 04:30:14

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] I will have a look.

  • profile

    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 07/Apr/2021 04:31:22

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnspooner It is not often that I get something right!

  • profile

    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 07/Apr/2021 04:33:00

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/foxglove Thank you, much appreciated. Mary

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 07/Apr/2021 12:39:35

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland Not to be confused with "points-boy" is "pointsman" - a policeman directing traffic at a junction (point duty). Also "railway pointsman". And "trace-boy" which was the points-boy's equivalent in the days of horse-drawn trams. And "switcher" which I think was a seldom-used synonym for points-boy.

  • profile

    billh35

    • 10/Apr/2021 17:30:12

    The Midland Hotel was to the right of York Street Station which was commonly known as "the LMS" (as opposed to Great Victoria Street Station which was known as "the GNR" even long afer both companies had gone). The boys were employees of the Corporation Tramways department and their duties were to operate points at busy junction. Tram 144 is indeed turning from York Street into Brougham Street which would lead to Duncairn Gardens once it crossed North Queen Street. The street on the right is indeed Ship Street which led to Garmoyle Street and the Dufferin and York docks.