This is Hornby Street in East Belfast - the place where my mother's father, Tommy Graham, grew up. And the street which his family was 'burnt out' from about a century ago.
You can see in the distance one of the cranes of the Harland and Wolff ship repair yard. Harland and Wolff was once the biggest shipyard in the world. It's where the Titanic was built - and where, a few years later, my grandfather was apprenticed.
This is the only family possession that links the Grahams to Hornby Street - just about the last remnant of the Northern Ireland connection. As you can see, it's tatty and the stamp has been soaked off. It's written by 'T. Graham' - not my grandfather but his father - to his 'Dear Wife' (her name was Maggie) and addressed to 39 Hornby Street off the Newtonards Road.
According to family folklore, Tommy senior was a merchant seaman - I still have a couple of his brass seafaring canisters, designed (I think) to measure specific gravity.
This postcard was sent from the SS Pakeha, then docked at a port in New Zealand. The mariner hopes that 'Tomy is being a good Boy'. There's no date - but it's probably from about 1910 or a couple of years either side.
This is an undated photograph found online of the Steam Ship Pakeha docked at Port Chalmers near Dunedin in New Zealand. The 8,115 ton ship was built, appropriately, by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. It was acquired for war duties during the First World War, reverted to a merchant role and was sold for breaking up in 1950.
So, what else can I find out about my family's Belfast pedigree? Well, here's my grandfather's birth certificate from September 1902.
This seems to be before the family moved to Hornby Street - though Connisbrook Avenue is not far away. Thomas senior is listed as a boiler maker, the craft to which my grandfather was apprenticed. As so often in artisan trades, the son followed in the father's footsteps.
Thomas senior seems to have moved from a tough job in the shipyards to a life I imagine was every bit as arduous at sea.
My grandfather's birth was reported by his mother - and as you can she didn't sign but made a mark, suggesting that she was illiterate.
At the time of the 1911 census, Maggie Graham was listed as the head of household, presumably because her husband was at sea. Nine-year-old Tommy - the oldest of what was then five children - was the only member of the household who could read and write.
What is really surprsing is that all of the household are listed as Roman Catholics. Hornby Street was, and remains, in a fiercely Protestant working class area.
The story I remember being told is that this was a mixed marriage - Tommy senior was a Protestant and his wife a Catholic. Her mother was a McKeown and had a sweet shop. All the boys of the marriage were brought up as Protestant; all the girls - I remember one of them, Jeannie - were Catholics. But as far as the census enumerator was concerned, all the children were listed as of the same religion as the head of household.
We can put some faces to these names - here's Maggie, my great-grandmother (after whom my mother, Margaret, may well have been named) with her mother, Mrs McKeown. It was taken in 1932, probably in Glasgow. They look as if they lived stressful lives.
How come in Glasgow? Ok - well, mixed marriages weren't all that uncommon in Belfast at that time it seems, but mixed households were sometimes targetted at moments of communal tension.
In the early 1920s, at the time of the creation of the Irish Free State and deep civil unrest, the Graham family was 'burnt out' of Hornby Street - forced to flee. I don't know whether Tommy senior was at home at the time or at sea.
The family moved to Glasgow, which had strong links to Northern Ireland and where there was also a large shipbuilding and maritime sector. What I heard from my mother was that her father, Tommy junior, stayed behind in Belfast to finish his apprenticeship before moving to join the rest of the family in Glasgow and getting work as a boilermaker in Govan.
When I first visited Hornby Street in search of my grandfather, more than thirty years ago, I came across a couple of old-time residents of the street who remembered the riots of the early Twenties which caused my forbears to leave. I broadcast their accounts at the time on the BBC World Service.
In Glasgow, my grandfather did well for himself. He married - Elizabeth 'Betty' Brunton was a Scottish Protestant - and brought the family up in Copland Place in Ibrox, close to the Rangers football ground. So in very much a Protestant part of town.
Here's Tommy and Betty on their wedding day, 16th July 1928. He was 26; she was 24.
My mother was born in Glasgow in the following year. In the late 1930s, the family moved to West Yorkshire. Then in the mid-1950s - by which time my parents had met and married - my grandfather emigrated to South Africa. He died there in 1965. We never met.
My mother never set foot in Northern Ireland.
And Hornby Street today? The old terraced housing has been demolished since I last visited more than thirty years ago, but it has been replaced by good modern terraced houses. The flags and emblems indicate that the people of Hornby Street are determiedly British, pro-Unionist, and admirers of the great Protestant hero King Billy, William the Third, who defeated the Catholic army of King James at the Battle of the Boyne back in 1690.
At the end of Hornby Street, at the junction with Newtonards Road, the Great Eastern is a traditional local bar - preparing for the 'Sash Bash'.
And just a few feet away from Hornby Street is political street art which seeks to demonstrate the area's continuing support for the Loyalist cause.
Northern Ireland is (largely) at peace - but it remains deeply divided, and in the working class areas of Belfast which bore the brunt of the 'Troubles', old loyalties still linger.
I wonder what Tommies senior and junior - or Maggie who had to make a sudden dash with her family to Scotland - would make of it all?
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