Choosing Images for Panel Two

Choosing Images for Panel Two

1914-1950

The Mater Hospital

The Mater Hospital

The Mater Hospital- the group decided to depict a hospital that women from the port and docks area would have gone to and to represent the changes in healthcare during this period. The Mater was founded in 1883 by the Sisters of Mercy.

Women Get The Vote

In 1918, women over the age of 30 got the vote in Britain( although the voting age for men was only 21). In 1928, the age for women to vote was lowered to 21.

embroidering the ballot box to represent women's right to vote

embroidering the ballot box to represent women’s right to vote

The Partition of Ireland

In December 1921, Michael Collins signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty. 26 counties became independent and formed the Republic of Ireland and six remained under British Rule in the State of Northern Ireland.

Ireland after partition

Ireland after partition

 

Myrtle Hill’s Talk ‘Women in the North of Ireland World War One and Two’

To give us ideas for themes, historian Myrtle Hill came to Arts for All and gave a talk about the role of women in Northern Irish society during the period of the two world wars. The notes and images from the first part of her talk (focused on the period of World War One) are in the section ‘Choosing Images for Panel One 1850-1914’.

World War Two

Unlike the First World War, during World War Two, the front line was no longer the only place of danger and destruction and Belfast was badly blitzed and East Belfast was especially targeted. The port of Belfast exported a large amount of Ulster’s agricultural and industrial production to England and was therefore a target of the Luftwaffe. After the first air raid many people fled from the city and camped out in the countryside and many children were evacuated out of the city. Air raid wardens were male and female. A ‘war bride’ Nelly Bell, spent her wedding night in an air raid shelter.  Although the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland were neutral, Northern Ireland was involved with the war and supplied a lot of food across Britain. Women were involved in farming and belonged to the ‘Land Army’. As in World War One, women produced munitions and, in the linen factories, made parachutes. Debates began over whether women should go out to work or stay at home to look after children and so the Nursery Movement was set up, which put pressure on the state to facilitate women so that they could work outside the home.

Everybody’s lives were in danger during the blitz (men, women, children and animals). A baby elephant was taken out of Belfast zoo and raised, for a while, in a woman’s back garden in Whitewell. Everyday life was a challenge and the blitz highlighted the terrible living conditions that people had been living in before the attacks.

Visit to the War Memorial Museum

The Blitz in Belfast

On the 21st of March we went to the War Memorial Museum for inspiration, because both World Wars will be represented in the tapestry. During World War One, Belfast City came under attack. The docklands and factories were targeted. Belfast was a threat to the enemy because of its munitions production and access from the docks. During the war, 140 warships were built by Harland and Wolff- and this included six aircraft carriers. Factories in Belfast produced millions of shells and uniforms and Short and Harland built 125 Sunderland flying boats and 1,200 sterling bombers.

In 1941, Belfast was hit by air raid attacks from the Luftwaffe. On the 7th and 8th of April, the first raid was carried out by 8 bombers-this caused destruction to the docks and the aircraft fuselage factory was demolished. On the 15th and 16th of April (second raid), the Luftwaffe dropped 673 bombs and 29,000 incendiaries, primarily on residential areas of the docks. The third raid was on the 4th and 5th of May. Approximately 237 tons of high explosive and 96,000 incendiaries fell on Belfast and the docklands.

The people of Belfast were not properly equipped for the attack. Air raid shelters and anti-aircraft guns were inadequate. The blitz caused the deaths of 1,000 people and half of the housing stock of Belfast was damaged. [1]

[1] Information from http://www.niwarmemorial.org/gallery-exhibitions/the-blitz/#sthash.DvVfw9IY.dpuf

 

drawing of a blitzed house

drawing of a blitzed house

Sheila the baby elephant being looked after in a back yard in Belfast during the blitz.

 A drawing of the elephant in a back yard. The elephant will be decorated with embroidered Indian motifs because three of the stitchers in the group are from India.

The coat for the elephant in colourful Indian embroidery

The coat for the elephant in colourful Indian embroidery

 

Embroidered elephant under a washing line

Embroidered elephant under a washing line

Women’s War Work

The War Memorial museum also had information and displays concentrating on women’s contribution to the war. Thousands of women served in St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, the Red Cross and Civil Defence Nursing Reserve. 4,000 women were employed by Mackie’s, on the Springfield Road, in the production of shells, bomb components and ammunition. In the textile factories, women manufactured camouflage nets, parachutes, thousands of uniforms for the armed services and this included 90% of all the shirts.

The Woman’s Voluntary Service aided families affected by the blitz, by distributing Red Cross parcels and clothes. Women who belonged to community and church groups, sent comfort parcels to soldiers, ran canteens and planned dances. Women in the Civil Defence Services worked in the operations rooms and assisted the Air Raid Wardens at look- out posts and air raid shelters. Women also joined the WRNS, WRAF, WRAC and served with the armed forces in war theatres at battle and at home. Women in the WRAF helped to run the RAF operations room at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. The WRNS ran a shore-to-ship signal station at Belfast Castle. [1]

[1] information from http://www.niwarmemorial.org/gallery-exhibitions/womenofulster/#sthash.M0OfkJE.dpuf

Margaret McCoubrey

 

The suffragette and labour activist, Margaret McCoubrey, will feature on panel two. We chose to depict Mc Coubrey because she is directly linked with the port and docks area- she was a labour councillor for the dock ward.

Margaret Mearns was born in Eldersley near Glasgow in 1880. She trained as a shorthand typist and was secretary for the managing director of the first private telephone service in Scotland. She became the deputy head of the Skerries Business Training College at the age of twenty four. She married John Taylor McCoubrey, who was from Belfast and they moved there and lived on Candahar Street, Ormeau Road in 1905. McCoubrey became involved in the suffrage movement in 1910 and was also an active militant.

When the first Word War began, McCoubrey joined the peace movement and offered protection to conscientious objectors. She was general secretary of the Co-Operative Guild and was on their board of management between 1910 and 1916. She taught economics and the history of the Co-Operative Society in the educational department. McCoubrey was a contributor to several periodicals. She belonged to the Independent Labour Party and became labour councillor of the dock ward in 1920. McCoubrey also directed Drumalla House where members of the Belfast Girls Club Union went on holiday. [1]

 The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force

When the group were deciding on images for panel two, we agreed that they wanted to include an image that would represent women’s war work. Women carried out numerous jobs during World War One, but because there were other areas of history that we felt we needed to reference, we decided to choose one figure that would embody the role of women during the war. We opted for a female pilot. During her talk, Myrtle Hill told us that women were employed by the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was established in 1939 and was led by Katherine Trefusis-Forbes during World War Two. Women who worked for the WAAF had to carry out three different types of work- (1) driving (2) clerical work (3) cooking, waitressing and running messages. Women aged from 18-43 could join and after two weeks of training they were sent to their postings. The Battle of Britain created a massive struggle for the RAF and so the WAAF’s role changed. Members were no longer expected to just do jobs like cooking, driving and waitressing. Women were trained for various posts including radar plotting, photographic interpretation and the maintenance of barrage balloons. Many women were posted at Fighter Command airbases which were attacked in the first raids, during the Battle of Britain, by the Luftwaffe. Many WAAFs aided as the eyes of Fighter Command as they calculated the activities of the incoming Luftwaffe airplanes. After the victory of the Battle of Britain many WAAFs were reassigned to the Royal Observer Corps.

By December 1943 there were 182,000 women working for the Women’s Auxiliary Air service. Although their work was valued by many people, in a male dominated military there were cases when women faced sexism. One of their responsibilities was to maintain barrage balloon sites in order to make the Luftwaffe planes fly higher which made it more difficult to achieve an accurate target. Barrage balloon operators had a vital role during the Blitz. The media remarked that it took sixteen women to operate a barrage balloon while it would only take ten men to do the same job. However, despite some instances of chauvinism, it was acknowledged that the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force carried out fundamental work during world war two. [2]

 The Air Transport Auxiliary

The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was founded in 1938 by British Airways Limited. At the outbreak of world war two, it became an operational unit. The ATA was a civilian organisation and ATA pilots had the task of ferrying RAF and RN warplanes from factories to maintenance units and front-line squadrons and back again if they needed repairing or due to overhaul. The ferrying of aircraft was the ATA’s principal duty. Over the duration of the Second World War more than 309,000 aircraft were ferried by ATA pilots. At the beginning if the war, the planned role for the ATA was to fly light aircraft to distribute medical supplies, dispatches and post etc. However after six months, the first recruits-both male and female, were delivering trainer aircraft, fighters and even bombers from factories and stores to RAF airfields. One of the ferry pools was in Belfast. Pilots could be sent on several flights a day and sometimes stayed the night away from home. Aircraft taxis brought pilots to their first ferry job of the day and when possible collected them at the end of the day. In 1939, there were 28 pilots in the ATA but five years later there were 650.[1]

[1] Information from http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/about-ba/history-and-heritage/explore-our-past/the-air-transport-auxiliary

drawing of a female pilot

drawing of a female pilot

 

The Short Sunderland Flying Boat

drawing of a Sunderland Flying Boat

drawing of a Sunderland Flying Boat

The aircraft manufacturer Short and Harland employed a workforce of approx. 20,000 people. Their most famous aircrafts were the Short Sunderland flying boat (used in a campaign against Nazi U-boats in the Atlantic ocean) and the Short Stirling long- range heavy bomber (used by bomber command).

Female factory workers from the Altona and Long Kesh bases standing in front of a Stirling bomber while visiting the main Shorts factory in 1944

Female factory workers from the Altona and Long Kesh bases standing in front of a Stirling bomber while visiting the main Shorts factory in 1944

Other factories in Belfast that contributed to the war effort were Harland and Wolff, James Mackie and Sons, The York Street Flax Spinning Co, the Linen Thread Co, Brookfield Spinning Co. and Wm. Ewart’s Rosebank Weaving Co. During World War Two, the shipping company Harland and Wolff manufactured large variety of vessels including aircraft carriers (for example HMS Unicorn and HMS Formidable), the cruisers- HMS Penelope and HMS Belfast and 131 other naval vessels and 140 merchant vessels.

The linen factory James Mackie and Sons turned to manufacturing Bofors anti-aircraft shells and the linen factories supplied linen to cover the Hawker Hurricane and glider planes. [1]

[1] Information from http://oracleireland.com/Ireland/history/war-2.htm

a drawing of the cogs and wheels of a loom to represent the linen industry in Belfast

a drawing of the cogs and wheels of a loom to represent the linen industry in Belfast

stitching the cogs and wheels

stitching the cogs and wheels

parachutes were manufactured in Belfast

parachutes were manufactured in Belfast

embroidered parachute

embroidered parachute

The Tram in Belfast

Drawing of a Belfast street scene with the tram which was replaced with trolly busses in 1954.

Belfast street scene with tram

Belfast street scene with tram

Herding Cattle to the Docks

 In the 1950’s, cattle would have been herded to the docks where they were put on ships to be exported.

drawing of a herd of cattle

drawing of a herd of cattle

cows in crewel stitch

cows in crewel stitch

Importing Tea

The image of the tea plant represents the importing of goods through the docks.

drawing of a tea plant

drawing of a tea plant

tea plant in stitch

tea plant in stitch

Duncairn Picture House

The Duncairn Picture House was opened in 1916 and seated 1,200. It was fondly known as ‘’the donkey’’ by its patrons. It closed on the 22nd of November 1969.

drawing of the Duncairn Picture House and a cinema ticket

drawing of the Duncairn Picture House and a cinema ticket

embroidering the cinema ticket

embroidering the cinema ticket

Floral Hall

Floral Hall was built in the mid 1930’s and was opened to the public in 1936. It served as a dance hall and was Belfast’s pre-eminent venue for entertainment (used by 130,000 people in 1947 alone). The modernist dance hall was situated on the slopes of Cave Hill with a view of Belfast Lough. Generations of people from Belfast and further used the venue for dancing. Later the Hall hosted performances from show bands and concerts and it was also used for roller discos. At the time, it was at the centre of the Bellvue Gardens but the site is now part of Belfast Zoo.

drawing of Floral Hall

drawing of Floral Hall

Dancers at Floral Hall

Dancers at Floral Hall

 

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