Those with longer memories of life on the Newtownards Road will frequently reminisce about the shops and business that gave such vitality and energy. Places like Mahood’s Bicycle Shop or Burke’s Draper and Outfitters at number 213-223, or Irvine’s Shoe Shop at the Arches.
No story is complete without ice cream from Desano’s or Fuscos, after fish and chips from somewhere like the Fish Supper Saloon at Hanvey’s, 83 Newtownards Road or maybe Vincent’s Fish Restaurant.
The Bloomfield Bakery at the corner of the Newtownards Road and Bloomfield Avenue was the largest in the city and had at one time over 80 carts and 100 horses serving the city. They also had the contract to provide the bread and sundries for the 36th Ulster Division prior to the Division going to France in 1915.
The Road even had its own organ builder by the name of F Pancott, and at 439 was the British and Argentina Meat Company.
The Strand Spinning Mill now called Portview was a very modern Mill that gives employment to many women and young girls it was the last purpose built Mill to be built in Belfast.
Beside the mill was Browns. Having outgrown the Bloomfield Road premises Browns moved to the Newtownards Road in 1936. Surveying 50 years of activity in 1954, from furniture removers to taxis and wedding limousines to funeral services, Elizabeth Brown wrote, ‘During the past 50 years our path has often been beset by obstacles which at times seemed insurmountable, but God’s grace supporting human perseverance brought us safely through. Celebrating 100 years in 2004, the then director, James Brown, agreed.
At number 74 was the Medical Institute for Working People run by Dr Cardwell and in Cuba Street the first commercial Motor Carriage to be built in Ireland. It was known as the Chambers car and one can be seen at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. There was also a gentleman who operated a bakery from the front and undertakers from the rear of his premises.
And finally, many people have stories of queuing up on a Saturday morning outside of Pat Jordan’s bakery for apple tarts or tatie bread. The business, which was listed in a 1920 street directory, still exists today and is operated by the same family. Those in the know say the apple tarts are still as good.
thanks to local historian Bobby Cosgrove for his invaluable help in compiling these stories