Squeeze Gut Entry and other old Belfast street names
This was a narrow street with a distinct ‘kink’ in its layout. It runs from Castle Street to Berry Street. With the opening of St. Mary’s, the first Catholic Church in Belfast in 1784, the street became known as Chapel Lane.
Gooseberry Corner off Claremont Street was situated in the district of Ballymacarret. A separate village on the banks of the Lagan, Ballymacarret only became part of Belfast in 1853. In 1865-66 Gooseberry Corner consisted of a few houses. Among its residents were Mrs Smilie and Jane Johnston washerwomen and Miss Clark, a dressmaker. James Fraser, Assistant County Surveyor, Co Down resided in Gooseberry Cottage.
My Lady’s Road
This road was developed from a lane known the Rookery Loanin. It was designed to prevent the Marchioness of Donegall from seeing the destitute poor of the Rookery, on her journeys from her home at Ormeau into Belfast. It runs from the Ravenhill Road onto the Woodstock Road.
This street got its name from the number of tobacco clay pipe makers living here, such as the Cunninghams and Dohertys. The Hamiltons are listed as having a pipe manufacturing business here as early as 1819 right up to 1912. Pipe Lane is now Winetavern Street in central Belfast.
Mustard Street ran from Royal Ave towards Carrick Hill, and consisted of 80 small houses. It was named after Richard Caldwell and Co. Flour and Mustard Factory. The street was demolished around 1890 and redeveloped mostly for commercial and industrial premises. It was then renamed Library Street after the recently opened Public Library at its corner.
Goose Lane ran from Bridge Street towards the North Gate of Belfast town. Local farmers used to herd their flocks along this lane to graze at Point Fields. As the town expanded and developed the Lane’s name was changed to North Street. In the eighteenth century this was a very affluent area,the home of Belfast’s leading merchants and business men.
In the early records Pigtail Lane is listed as running off Club Row in the Ballymacarret district, but in 1865 it is said to be off the Ballymacarret Road. In this year it is described in the Belfast Street Directory as ‘six small houses, principally occupied by weavers’. However, in the last record I can
find, that of 1870, only one weaver is still resident, Mary Jane Stewart, at number 8.
Hercules Street is one of the oldest streets in Belfast, running from Hercules Place (now Castle Place) to North Street. It is thought the thoroughfare was named after Sir Hercules Langford, a prominent business man and ‘free Burgesse in the Corporation of Belfast’ in the seventeenth century. The street was mainly occupied by fleshers, now known as butchers, and as the animals were killed on the premises, it was probably not a very salubrious area. In 1880-81 the town council demolished Hercules Street and its neighbourhood, replacing it with a wide avenue stretching from Donegall Square to York Street. Around 4,000 people had to be rehomed in the process. This new boulevard was to reflect the growing civic pride of Belfast’s elite and was named Royal Avenue.
Hercules Place at Castle Place was a smaller street but with a wider variety of occupants, though also mostly small business people. In 1850 James Whisker at No 33 was a victualler; Mary Ann Montgomery at No21 was a milliner and bonnet maker, while Mrs Hoy at No 17½ had an interesting
career as a leech importer.
In 1768 Fr Hugh O’Donnell, a native of Glenarm, rented a cramped property on a 31 year lease (the maximum allowed to Catholics at this time) in Mill Street in which to celebrate Mass. This was accessed via a narrow damp alley called Squeeze-gut Entry, which ran off College Court and faced
Marquis Street in the Castle Street area of Belfast.
Built around the 1830’s this was a row of basic houses backing onto Carrick Hill. It was notable for its flight of steep stone steps leading to Birch Street. Rev. O’Hanlon in his book ‘Walks among the Poor of Belfast’ 1853 describes this area and its inhabitants in very disparaging terms. By 1870 the Court
had 19 occupants, mostly labourers. The last record of Pepper-Hill Court is in 1894 when it is just listed as ‘a number of small houses’.
Lettuce Hill was probably named after Letitia, Countess of Donegall. This was a narrow street of sixty small houses, off Barrack Street. Although most of the inhabitants are unnamed, we know in 1861 Michael Long, a shoemaker lived at No 34 and John Henry, a bone dealer lived at No 19. The street was demolished in the early twentieth century and replaced with John Street.
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